CITY OF LACEY LOSES LONGTIME PARKS ADVOCATE AND LEADER

LACEY, WA, April 26, 2019:  The City of Lacey is saddened by the recent passing of Jim Sheler, who served as the city’s first Parks and Recreation Director from 1974 until retirement in 2009.  “Jim established an incredible legacy for our community and indeed the greater South Sound,” said Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder. “He was an untiring force in laying the foundation for one of the finest municipal park systems in the region.”
 
When Sheler arrived at Lacey, the fledgling city had been incorporated for only eight years.  Its newly-created parks department had no permanent employees, no dedicated budget, and only three parks—Wonderwood, Lake Lois, and Homann—comprising a total of 54 acres. 
 
Over the next 35 years, Sheler oversaw expansion of the city’s park system to 26 locations encompassing more than 500 acres—including Rainier Vista Community Park, Woodland Creek Community Park, Huntamer Park, the Regional Athletic Complex, and Lacey’s community and senior centers.  Sheler also initiated the city’s highly-regarded comprehensive recreation program, which serves more than twenty thousand participating residents and visitors annually.  By the time of his retirement, Lacey’s parks department employed thirteen people, and had an annual budget of $3.2 million.
 
In 2010, the Washington Recreation and Parks Association (WRPA) honored Sheler with its Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes outstanding commitment and contributions to the field of parks and recreation.
“Jim was truly passionate about Lacey and building a park’s system that would benefit and be enjoyed by all ages,” said City Manager Scott Spence.  “He was the personification of outstanding public service, and one of the most dedicated professionals I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”  

A public Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, May 3, at 1:00 p.m. at Mills & Mills Funeral Home, 5725 Littlerock Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98512.  Contributions to the “Lacey Parks & Recreation Jim Sheler Memorial Fund” can be made in-person or via postal mail to Lacey Parks & Recreation, 420 College Street SE, Lacey, WA 98503.

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