Parks and Recreation Director announces retirement

Kevin PowellCity, Parks & Recreation

Parks and Recreation Director announces retirement

Ernie Shaw has announced he will retire from the City of Lawrence in June 2017. Ernie’s service to the city began in 1975, immediately after graduating college from Pittsburg State University with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management. Over the next four decades, Ernie served the department in various capacities from building supervisor to Assistant Director. In 2007, Ernie assumed the duties of the Director when Fred DeVictor retired.  As the Director, Ernie guided the department through the construction of Sports Pavilion Lawrence, a facility which he sees as a game-changer for improving the health and wellness of many members of our community.

“I am fortunate to witness the daily impact of the Sports Pavilion facility,” said Shaw.  “The facility, staff and programming offered, and at all LPRD facilities, improve the quality of life for our residents.  Sports Pavilion Lawrence contributes to the local economy in a way that we have not seen before. I realize there will always be questions, right or wrong, about the process. However, the outcome and final product has shown the community wanted and needed this facility. I see the impact of SPL only growing in the future and the economic impact of sporting and community events in our city have yet to be fully realized.”

Throughout his four decades of service, Shaw has been honored for his work on behalf of Lawrence Parks and Recreation and the Kansas Parks and Recreation Association at local, state and national levels. Ernie also achieved a masters degree in 1988 with an emphasis in business/parks and recreation management from The University of Kansas.

Shaw said he is extremely proud of the professional, dedicated staff, city employees and the Lawrence community he’s worked with for many years.  The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department has been recognized on numerous occasions for their overall impact on the community and as a national leader among Park and Recreation agencies across the country.

“I have always enjoyed being part of a team more than any individual endeavor,” said Shaw.  “I really believe that in order to love what you do, you have to enjoy the people who are part of your daily routine; this is the key to making a job a pleasant experience you really look forward to doing each day.”

City Manager Tom Markus said that Ernie’s work is evident and will have a lasting legacy on the City of Lawrence.

“His passion for the Parks and Recreation programs and services is only surpassed by his strong support and caring attitude toward the employees of Parks and Recreation,” said Markus. “Ernie will be missed and we all wish Ernie a happy, relaxing and well-earned retirement.”

Markus said the city would begin a national search to replace Shaw.

As Shaw begins to close out this chapter of his professional life, he reflected on how the Parks and Recreation industry has changed in his 40-plus years within the industry.

“When I started, summer was our busiest season running summer sports leagues, playground programs, the municipal pool and maintaining existing parks and facilities,” said Shaw.  “Now, we work long hours year-round developing more than 550 programs each season, manage over 4,000 acres of parkland and maintain recreation facilities which contribute to the overall quality of life of our residents. Our programming, parks and facilities reflects our community and the varied populations we serve. We touch every age, socio-economic level, and demographic we can possibly reach. We strive to ensure our parks and recreation offerings are accessible to all of our residents and contribute to them building a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Shaw noted Parks and Recreation has an impact on the local and national economy far greater than many can imagine. For example, local and regional public parks and recreation programs in the United States contribute over $140 billion in economic activity and generate over one-million jobs. Parks and Recreation facilities are the places in the community where people go to get healthy and stay fit. The development of parks and protected public lands consistently improve communities by protecting groundwater, preventing flooding, improving air quality and providing vegetative buffers for wildlife habitats.  Parks are a place for our children and families to connect with nature and the outdoors.

“I have said, and will continue to say, that a strong Parks and Recreation Department is a core community service,” said Shaw. “I could not imagine living in a community that did not value these services. We’ve worked for years to lay a strong foundation.  In the future, it will be imperative to the health of our community to build on what we’ve accomplished. I look forward to the future, watching LPRD grow and navigate what is to come.”

Shaw has one son who is an engineer with the City of Lawrence, a daughter-in-law who is a teacher with USD #497 and two wonderful grandkids.  He has been married to Joyce, the love of his life, for 46 years. In retirement, he’ll live and tinker on his farm north of Lawrence. He and Joyce plan to travel, spend time at their vacation home at Table Rock Lake, and most importantly spend as much time with family and the grandkids as possible.

“I will always have a passion for the Parks and Recreation field,” said Shaw. “I will continue to be an advocate for this great profession.”


Media Contact: Brandon McGuire, Assistant to the City Manager; (785) 832-3466 OR Ernie Shaw, (785) 832-3450