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Gary Evans lands top Oregon parks honor

by:  Gary Evans

Gary Evans, the city's longtime assistant parks and recreation director, has won the top Oregon Parks and Recreation Association award.

The city announced this week that Evans landed the state's Dave Clark Professional Honor, an annual award given to a professional parks and recreation leader and association member who, 'through incentive, inspiration and demonstration of leadership, has made noteworthy contributions over a period of time to the recreation and park movement.'

Evans has worked in the field for more than 40 years. That includes three decades in Lake Oswego, where he began as manager of the public golf course in 1981, supervising cultural, sports and fitness, tennis and golf programs, as well as the city swim park. Over the years, the department grew in both parks and programs, and Evans took on supervisory duties of the tennis center and water sports center. His tenure has lasted through four different parks department directors.

A lot has changed since Evans began his Lake Oswego career. Back then, George Rogers and Waluga were the only active community parks in the city, Roehr Park was a tangle of blackberries, and the water sports center didn't exist. Luscher Farm was simply property outside of city limits. Rossman, Millennium Plaza, Pilkington, Glenmorrie and Foothills parks were not on anyone's radar. But Evans was involved in the development of these, helping to build what most residents think of as the city's park system.

He was also the lead project manager for the National Recreation and Parks Association and in 2006 was a finalist for a American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration Gold Medal Award - one of the loftiest honors a parks department can achieve. More recently, Evans won an award from the Oregon State Marine Board for the seven years he spent working to develop the Foothills Park dock.

Although Evans retired this summer from his full-time job, he plans to continue working part time in Lake Oswego's parks department, helping with the transition of a new assistant director.

'When Gary departs for his next adventure,' officials said in a public announcement, 'his organizational skills, sense of humor and his leadership will be sincerely missed.'