Big shoes to fill
Parks and Recreation Director Ed Englehart leaves a lasting legacy, retiring after 20 years of service to Marshfield
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — When Ed Englehart, the now former parks and recreation director for the city of Marshfield, looks around the city, he hopes that he left it in a better place than when he began his service in 1995.
Retiring after 20 years in Marshfield, Englehart is reluctant to take credit for the many projects and improvements his department oversaw during his time. Whether it was the development of the Steve J. Miller Recreation Area Complex, the trail system in Marshfield, Griese Park, the Marshfield Skatepark, the construction of a new Wildwood Station building, or the recent successful effort to raise funds for a new bear pen at Wildwood Zoo, Englehart is both humble and deferential about the progress the city has made during his tenure.
“I think it’s been very critical, what has been done, is because of the private sector stepping forward,” Englehart said in regards to many projects the city has successfully accomplished over the years.
He added that the city staff was excellent to work with during his time.
“We have a very good staff, and I just hope they can keep that cohesiveness and level of cooperation between departments,” he said. “I think we have a good group of employees, and you have some skilled employees too.”
When he thinks back over his career and all of the improvements and changes he has overseen during his tenure as parks and recreation director, he thinks first of the people with whom he has worked.
“The one thing that quickly comes to mind is the people that were involved in making those things happen,” Englehart said.
Englehart’s roots are in Iowa, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation education with a focus on administration from the University of Iowa. He then worked for just over two years as a program supervisor at the Dubuque Recreation Department, and following that he moved to Vinton, Iowa, and served as the parks and recreation director for just shy of a decade. After his time in Vinton, Englehart spent about 10 years as a supervisor and then assistant parks and recreation director in Muscatine, Iowa.
Englehart wanted to get back to being a department head, and his wife Deb said that Wisconsin would be a place she would consider moving to because she had some familiarity with the state and had visited numerous times. Englehart was hired as Marshfield’s parks and recreation director in 1995. At a recent common council meeting, Deb was the first person he thanked as he spoke about his retirement and time with the city.
“Deb, thanks for everything. Deb’s been with me all but a few years of my 40-year career in parks and recreation,” Englehart said to a crowd of citizens and city staff at the meeting.
City Administrator Steve Barg at that same meeting remarked on Englehart’s long-term service to the community.
“You know you spend five years somewhere, that’s pretty good. Ten years, you get to the point where you’ve given two decades of your life to a pursuit of any kind, and that’s honorable, and his public service has just been exceptional, and the city of Marshfield has been blessed,” Barg said.
Floyd Hamus, co-founder of V&H and an active member of the parks and recreation scene in Marshfield, said it was Englehart’s work ethic that most impressed him as they collaborated on a number of projects, including Hamus Park, the new grizzly bear pen, and Wildwood Station.
“He’s a hard worker. He did a wonderful job for the community without a doubt,” Hamus said. “There’s always an awful, awful lot of work behind the scenes that most people never know when they walk through a facility once it’s completed.”
Hamus added, “It was an awful lot of fun to work with him over the years.”
Englehart’s longtime administrative assistant, Amy Beauchamp, worked with him over the course of more than 14 years and spoke fondly of the person he is and all that he accomplished.
“Ed had great pride in what he did at the parks and recreation department and was very committed to making Marshfield a desirable place to visit and reside. Between the miles of pedestrian trails, quality athletic fields and facilities, a popular zoo, and recreational opportunities for youth and adults, Ed has done and accomplished so many great things for the Marshfield community,” Beauchamp said, adding that those that knew him would “always appreciate his dedication, integrity, and sense of humor.”
Englehart said that he and Deb have no big plans for retirement but that they want to stay active in the community. He also said he plans to play more golf with his new free time, take some trips, fish, and bike more often.
“I guess I’ve got some gas left in the tank, but I want to sit back and decide what I want to do,” Englehart said. He added that it would be difficult to step back from his life’s work but that he was ready for somebody new to take over his position.
His replacement has not yet been selected, but whoever it is will have big shoes to fill.