Christmas Parade to honor Pat Familar

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, November 30, 2023

GATESVILLE – For their 2023 Christmas Parade, the Gates County Lions Club will honor Patricia Louis Brown Familiar, a county native who just recently celebrated her 40th year as the Manager of the Gates County Public Library.

Pat Familar

The annual parade is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 in downtown Gatesville. Line-up begins at 2 p.m. on New Ferry Road adjacent to the new courthouse.

Familiar was born Dec. 4, 1941, to Hardy and Lois Brown of Hobbsville. Directly after her 1963 graduation from East Carolina College (now East Carolina University in Greenville) with a BS in Primary Education, she joined the Peace Corp, Group 10, in the Phillippines. She spent two years volunteering in the program, and then traveled internationally (Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Israel, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, England) before returning to Gates County where she taught third grade in Elizabeth City at Central School.

A year later, she returned to the Philippines to marry a fellow teacher, Magligtas V. Familar. After marriage, the couple studied and earned their Master’s Degrees from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where Pat received her Master’s in Library Science. Together they returned to Dumaguete, Philippines, where they both taught at Silliman University. Shortly after the birth of their eldest daughter, martial law was declared and the country was in a state of unrest and distress. Pat and her family relocated back to Gates County where she continued to grow her family and strengthen ties with their community.

Upon her return, Pat taught third grade at Buckland Primary School for two years. As her family grew, she stopped teaching, but never stopped giving to her community. For several years, she volunteered and played the piano in Gates County’s Primary and Elementary Schools, so the school children could learn music through song, something she started when she was teaching.

She continued to play the piano for group singing and school programs, even for the first few years after she took over the role of Gates County Public Librarian in September, 1983 – a job that is one with her heart, and one that she has loved for the past 40 years.

Pat oversaw the library in three different locations, and dedicated herself to its care and well being. She mopped up after rain and dried books in the flat-roofed building across from Gatesville Elementary School (the current GITS building); she mopped up after rain and dried books in the old courthouse (now used for county offices); and finally is in a new building that doesn’t require mopping after it rains. She personally moved the furniture and books to each new location.

She loves the library and the staff, loves the patrons, loves her community. She remains in contact with many school teachers on projects and reports, and makes sure she has materials at the library that would be helpful to the students’ research. And before the time of easy internet searching, if materials were lacking in her home library, she made copies from materials in other libraries. She searches, saves, purchases and recycles ideas, crafts, gifts, and other things to produce her Summer Reading Program – one of her most loved programs – where she has read hundreds of books and hugged hundreds of children.

“Miss” Pat combines all her skills and love of teaching, all her skills and love of children, of books, of community, of people, and wraps it up into being a skilled and loving librarian.

It is no wonder that several years ago she was featured in a local magazine as a “hero” of Gates County. Or that on September 19, 2023, Pat was honored by the Gates County Board of Commissioners for her dedication to the library and her community, citing “her contributions to the quality of life for multiple generations of library patrons.” And on October 19, 2023, she was recognized by the state of North Carolina when she won the William Roberts Award for Distinguished Library Service. This award recognizes excellent service in North Carolina public libraries. Pat experiences great joy from knowing children, their parents, and grandparents… from having fostered the love of reading, learning, and community that comes from a library.

Pat is also a very active member of Zion United Methodist Church in Hobbsville, the UMW, and is the proud mother of four daughters, Armina (Mina), LoisMarie (LoMa), Julie and Kristy, their spouses, and five grandchildren.