Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Trailblazers: 40 Years and 3,000 Acres

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Trailblazers: 40 Years and 3,000 Acres

Article excerpt

Graham Skea retires after decades of hard work and success.

Name: Graham Skea

Title: Recently retired commissioner of Orange County, N.Y., Department of Parks and Recreation

Member since: 1980

Graham Skea spent nearly 40 years directing the Orange County parks department, using grit and ingenuity to grow a lush 3,000-acre parks department from the dry ground of the crude county division that existed in 1967. While building this green empire 40 miles north of New York City, Skea received a number of accolades, including the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society's Pugsley Medal in 1982, NRPA's National Distinguished Professional Award in 1993, NRPA Citizen Branch's Professional Excellence Award for Outstanding Leadership in 1997 and NRPA's American Park and Recreation Society's Distinguished Fellow Award in 2000. He credits his park fortuity to rubbing elbows with park and recreation notables, but it is certain that Skea has become the man to know.

Credit for success: "The key to the success that I've had was the opportunity to go to a northeast regional conference sponsored by the National Recreation Association. I was able to meet Bob Crawford, who was at the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation. He had pioneered an outstanding system and created new, challenging parks and playgrounds. He became my idol. It was people like him, and being able to go to national conferences, I was able to rub shoulders with the best in the business. I picked the right mentors. …

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