Radford looks to the future
Having spent all his time preparing to leave, South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Director Don Radford said he’s hardly thought about what he will do when he’s gone.
“I’ve been trying to do all I can while I’m here, so I can leave the department in the best possible shape,” he said.
After serving 20 years with the city, Radford will retire on Sept. 5 – about seven months earlier than he had originally planned – as part of the Destination 2000 budget reduction plan.
Although he will miss some aspects of his job – and some he won’t – Radford said he is looking forward to new challenges. His future will likely include some private consulting and possibly filling in at temporary administrative positions throughout the state.
Radford plans to stay at Lake Tahoe until at least next spring, when he will make a decision about a permanent move.
“I do have accommodations in Southern California, and I plan on bouncing around, checking out other states and possible places to go,” Radford said. “I really want to do something in the area of public/private recreation.”
Radford’s career in parks and recreation began in 1961, when he served as a community center director in Long Beach, Calif. Before that, he was involved in youth sports and was a playground leader in Santa Ana, Calif.
After studying business administration and physical education at California State University, Long Beach, Radford worked for 11 years as a superintendent of recreation with Pomona City Schools. In 1977, he moved to South Lake Tahoe as a recreation superintendent. He was promoted to director in 1993.
“I always wanted to be involved in athletics, and I thought I would be a coach,” Radford said. “I thought coaching would be too political, so I ended up as a department head in Tahoe – one of the most political places on Earth.”
Radford said he is glad for the opportunity to work for the city, and is most proud of the amount of recreation that takes place with so few resources.
“I think the image of parks and recreation has improved, and I think most of the people in the community have been involved in the programs,” he said. “A lot of times it’s taken for granted, but I think most people feel their kids have benefited from the programs.”
However, he said he can’t help but wish his leaving could have been on a more positive note.
“I am disappointed parks and recreation was not a high priority in the city, but I guess I’m biased because I can see the need for recreation,” Radford said. “It’s not a frill, and can’t be given or taken away. It’s innate to the quality of life of any community. And if you don’t have it, you don’t have a community.”
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