When Leavenworth's public outdoor pools reopen in a few months, something won't be the same. The head of the city's Parks and Recreation Department's supervisor of aquatics and special events will have put her swimsuit, swim fins, and earplugs in a box and stored it somewhere.
In truth she probably never wore any of the above in her 18-year tenure with the Parks and Recreation Department. But when she retires at the end of the month, Pam Simpson will no longer have the title of the longest tenured supervisor in the Parks and Recreation Department.
According to her boss Julie Anderson, the city will lose "a great teacher and true friend, a team player whose job was putting others first."
I met Simpson about five years ago when I was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Department Advisory Board. Her monthly status reports were always concise, informative, and gave board members the impression she knew what was going on in her department.
I wondered why the "pool boss" was at flea markets, Touch-a-Truck events in the Riverfront Community Center's parking lot, Haunted Havens in October, and at other events far from her swimming pools.
Then I saw her official title, that of supervisor of aquatics and special events. Ah, the myriad special events, all of which consumed someone's time, talents, experience, and dedication. For the past 18 years, that someone was Pam Simpson.
She was in charge of events from January to December. In January, not a month with a lot of pool use, she ran dog obedience, yoga, and aquacise classes. February brought the first flea market of the year in the Riverfront gymnasium and the sweetheart tea dance, March had an Easter egg hunt, and a kids tryathlon, April events were training classes for upcoming swim and lifeguard classes.
May had her running the popular Touch a Truck, supervising pool readiness, and more pool-training classes. June saw the completion of training classes, July had pools in full session, and August had her revising lifeguard schedules as they left for school.
September had the popular "pooch party" when doggies from throughout the city jumped, or were gently nudged, into a pool before it was drained and winterized for another brutal Leavenworth winter.
October in recent years has meant Haunted Havens, a wildly popular haunted event at Havens Park that leaves the youngsters screaming, but happy and ready for Halloween. It has been refined each year, and each year the kids have loved it more.
November has had her planning for the next year, and supervising final swim events at the Riverfront's indoor pool. You'd think she could rest in December, but there is breakfast with Santa, lifeguard training, and end-of-the-year reports.
Page 2 of 2 - With her many years of experience she got to know the public, and especially regular customers, quite well. My favorite comment from her came at her last appearance at a parks board meeting when she told of a temperature innovation at the indoor pool.
When she made the announcement of the introduction of the new equipment, she said "After it was installed, (name censored for privacy reasons) complained the water was too hot. He's a regular complainer, so when he said that, I knew the temperature was about exactly where it should be for everyone."
That made me know the Parks Department is going to miss her 18 years experience. Wonder how long it will take her successor to learn the idiosyncrasies of the many patrons of the vast park department? I'd guess a while.
Good luck Pam, and thanks for a job very well done.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.