|After 28 years, Superintendent of Parks Bill Cobb retires from JCPRD as of March 21|
After more than 28 years with the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses Bill Cobb has announced he'll be retiring on March 21.
Cobb said he's lookng forward to golf, fishing, and the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and young grandsons, ages nine and two-and-one-half. He said his wife, Teresia, retired about a year ago from AT&T after nearly 29 years and he's confident he can get her to retire again from the law enforcement supply company she's gone back to work for. Cobb said some tentative travel plans are in the works, as well as house and yard work.
Cobb's accomplishments during his long career were honored in late January during the Kansas Recreation and Park Association's annual meeting in Wichita when he was presented with the KRPA's Distinguished Fellow Award.
"During his years of service, Cobb has made significant contributions to the administration and operations of Johnson County Park and Recreation District and the natural resource management of over 9,400 acres of parks, open space and trails, and recreation facilities, including two public golf courses, two horse stables, four regional parks and three subregional parks, two nature parks and one community park," a KRPA publication states.
"It was a huge surprise and tremendous honor," Cobb said of the award. "When I looked at the program that they passed out at the awards banquet, and all the names of the people who were honored in the past, it was very humbling to say the least for a guy like me."
Cobb is one of four employees who started in January 1980 as young rangers and who are still with the District. The others are: Special Projects Coordinator Bob Beverlin; Superintendent of Park Safety and Interpretation Mike Ray; and Outdoor Education Manager Bill McGowan.
"At the time that was happening, we were all pretty close and had to support one another to get through some adversity to try to transition from what was in place at that time, which was largely law enforcement-oriented, and make the change to more education programming for the public," Cobb said.
"All three of those guys are pretty special to think that we've been here as long as we have," McGowan said. "There's a special bond between all four of us because we came in during a time when the District was going a new direction and we had a lot of trials and tribulations together."
To this day, members of the District's Park Police Department continue to have the dual role of law enforcement and outdoor education that was pioneered by these four employees.
In November 1983, Cobb was promoted to Park Manager for Shawnee Mission Park, in part because of his previous experience as a park maintenance worker and ranger with the Linn County Conservation Board near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was promoted again in 1983 to Superintendent of Parks and Golf Course, the administrative position he still holds.
"I have been extremely fortunate from the very beginning of the career I've had with the District to be a part of such a great place to work and the opportunities to advance that I've had," Cobb said.
"Bill led the Park Division through amazing growth while consistently faced with a lack of resources," Ray said. "Bill is a good man who has always strived to do the right thing. He should be proud of what he has accomplished as I am proud to have worked with him."
During his time here, Cobb has seen the District expand from 3,100 acres of park land to more than 9,400 acres and has been involved in multiple park and facility developments, including the Streamway Parks, which were approved by voters in 1986.
"Bill matured in his job, and I intend that to be the most positive statement that I can make for any manager," Beverlin added. "I have seen Bill accept every challenge as the growth in his responsibilities increased along with the District’s growth."
Cobb's long involvement with KRPA has included service as a past president, on conference planning committees, chairing the parks and natural resources branch, and hosting numerous KRPA golf tournaments.