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The NRPA community sadly lost a great fighter and advocate for parks and recreation, Michelle Arlene Park, on March 22. She is survived by her soulmates Jody Stowers and Sandy; sisters Vicki Lewis and Dana Manning; brothers Wayne Holzlohner, Robert Park and Allan Park; and uncles, aunts, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida, Park attained a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She dedicated her entire professional career of 40 years to the park and recreation field. Among other roles, Park served as executive director of the Maryland Parks and Recreation Association, executive director of the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association and director of professional services at NRPA. While working at NRPA, she contributed articles to Parks & Recreation magazine and occasionally served as a guest editor.
After her time at NRPA, Park stayed engaged with the association and shared a presentation, titled “Show Me the Proof! Effective Partnerships for Reducing Juvenile Crime,” at the 2012 NRPA Annual Conference. She ended her career as the assistant director of the City of Gainesville (Florida) Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs (PRCA) department, where she made a significant impact. To celebrate her work, the City of Gainesville PRCA established two long-term honors in her name: “The Michelle Park Family Recreation Scholarship” and the Michelle Park “Spirit Award.”
Park leaves behind a legacy of mentoring, expanding parks, guiding agencies to achieve agency accreditation, and being kind and caring above all.
Chris Brummett is Production Coordinator for Parks & Recreation magazine.