Expecting to stay in Aiken on a three to five-year plan, Glenn Parker's 30 years with the City of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department as director will soon come to an end.
After serving as a superintendent of recreation, Parker became director with the department in 2001. He then was put in charge of hiring employees, monitoring the budget and overseeing capital projects, while also watching over the department's various commissions.
As progress and development of Citizens Park became a large and successful project, the “crown jewel” for Parker became the department's progress as a whole.
“When I first came here, it was just a recreation department,” Parker said. “It was that typical Southern city. We did baseball, football, basketball and day camps, and then we expanded ... Now we've become a parks, recreation and tourism department, and we've really taken tourism under our wing. That, to me, has been great. We're doing so much here in Aiken that other cities don't get the opportunity to do. It's been fun.”
Parker said he's not necessarily retiring – more like transitioning.
“I'm not really retiring,” Parker said. “I've got one child in college now, and then another going next year so I'll have two kids in college who both want post graduate degrees, and to go to medical school. I'm too young and too poor to quit doing anything.”
Now just seemed like a good time, he said. Parker said he may be leaving, but his skills are still marketable.
Professionally, doors are open for another move, but it's something personal that is driving Parker for the time being.
“Last year I had the opportunity to go to Nicaragua on a mission trip, and my church (Millbrook Baptist) went down and started building a church,” Parker said. “I hope to do more of that kind of stuff, and maybe go this summer again or just go more throughout the year. It's a very rewarding experience for me. We sit here and complain, but then you go to somewhere like Nicaragua and see how blessed we are.”
Even though it doesn't seem like 30 years to Parker, he said it's been a great experience.
“I just really want to thank the Friends of the Railroad Depot, Hopelands and Rye Patch,” Parker said. “We've worked so closely with them and they have really supported the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.”
Parker's last day working for the City will be on May 30, and it's not necessarily a going away party he wants – it's just not his style.
“Buy me a cup of coffee,” Parker said. “I'll be very happy with that.”