By DAVE NICHOLSON | The Tampa Tribune
Published: March 30, 2012
PLANT CITY –
When Mary Davis heard that her former professor, Maribeth Mobley, was going to be honored with the prestigious Heritage Award, she knew she had to be there.
In the 1990s, Davis was a single mother with five children and struggling with her classes at Hillsborough Community College’s Plant City campus.
“She was my mentor and supported me with a lot of encouragement. She helped keep me focused,” said Davis, who after her 1998 graduation from HCC earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida.
Davis, a Plant City business owner, credits Mobley with putting her on the path for success.
Davis was among dozens of friends, family members and others on hand Thursday as Mobley was presented with the award from the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center.
The nonprofit group selects the award winners based on their community involvement, work on historic preservation and other factors, including a requirement that they be widely beloved in the community, archives founder Ed Verner said.
Mobley was the honored at the 10th annual gala sponsored by the history center, which has thousands of photographs, negatives and historical documents in its collection at 106 N. Evers St.
Mobley, who has taught English, humanities and world literature at HCC, has been a board member at the photo archives since its 2000 founding.
Mobley, 59, was born in Bartow and moved to Plant City as a child. She left after she got married and held various jobs, including at a convenience store and shrimp processing plant. The Plant City High School graduate decided to go back to school when HCC opened a Plant City campus in the early 1970s.
After graduating from HCC, she earned degrees from USF, including a doctorate in 1991.
She began teaching at HCC in the mid-1970s.
“She always kept one foot on the Plant City (HCC) campus,” said Jodi Smith-Stevens, a former student who helped present the award to Mobley.
Smith-Stephens said she took every class Mobley taught because of her skill at making classes interesting and informative.
“She took students all over the world without ever leaving their seats,” she said.
Mobley has won numerous awards, including the 1991 Woman of Achievement honor from the Plant City Business and Professional Women’s Club.
HCC Plant City campus President Felix Haynes called Dr. Mobley “a tremendous professor and educator.”
“She has made major contributions to the Plant City campus and all of HCC for many years,” said Haynes, who said the Heritage Award was very much deserved.
When it was Mobley’s turn at the microphone, she said she was the one who felt thankful.
“I have been so blessed to have had your lives interwoven with mine because it has enriched my life,” she said.
During the evening, Verner also presented Bill Parolini Awards for Meritorious Service to city Library Director Anne Haywood and photo archives information technology director David Patton.