BROOKSVILLE — An 18-year Brooksville Elementary School fixture has been gone for a couple of years now.
Charles "Mr. Ted" Rahal was 101 when he died and 101 when he stopped volunteering at the school.
He has not been forgotten.
That was evident at a recent flag presentation in honor of the beloved volunteer. The school's fifth-graders gathered in the front office for a ceremony to replace the school's old American flag with a new one — a special one that flew over the nation's Capitol.
"This flag flew over our nation on Dec. 7, 2012," said principal Mary LeDoux.
The flag and a new flagpole were paid for by the Brooksville Ridge Kiwanis Club, represented by John Ehlenbeck. Kiwanis was involved because Mr. Ted, as he was affectionately known, was an honorary member.
"It's a designation reserved for people who have done special work for the club itself and/or the community," Ehlenbeck said, citing Mr. Ted's volunteerism. "He volunteered up until a few months before he passed."
The donation of the flag was a testament to Mr. Ted's patriotism.
"I think he had a tremendous appreciation of the United States of America," Ehlenbeck said
The program to dedicate the new flag began with head custodian Joel Blount raising it, assisted by fifth-grader Michael Stults, 11. The rest of the activities included a poetic reading, a song and the Pledge of Allegiance, all done by students.
Some of the students remembered Mr. Ted and shared their thoughts.
"He always came in our classroom and helped us with math," said Hayley Leschner, 11.
"He always had a smile on his face," said Jade Johnston. "Like the Kiwanis representative said, he never had a bad day."
Alec Priede, 11, remembers Mr. Ted helping children when he was in prekindergarten.
"He'd be working around the playground doing something, anything he could do to help."
Michael Stults never knew Mr. Ted, but still held him in high esteem.
"The year I came to this school was last year," he said. "But I could tell he was a great man. He helped a lot."
The flag is accompanied by a plaque and photo. The plaque describes the flag and its origin, along with this sentiment: "In recognition of many years of volunteer service and for the gift of love to the children of Brooksville Elementary School."
The photo is of Mr. Ted on a horse. He once said: "When I get to be 100, I want to ride a horse."
Brooksville Elementary secretaries Jeannie DuBose and Debbie Matherly arranged it, hence the photo.
Demetrius Cannon, 11, never knew Mr. Ted, "But I knew he'd be just like me," he said. "I'm very funny."