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After 44 years, making fiberglass animals and running KC parks, McHenry will retire

Kansas City Parks and Recreation Director Mark McHenry will retire after 44 years with the department.
Kansas City Parks and Recreation Director Mark McHenry will retire after 44 years with the department. Kansas City Parks and Recreation

Mark McHenry began his career with Kansas City parks mowing grass and plowing snow. He will cap it as “the best park director in the country.”

That’s how former Parks and Recreation Commissioner Anita Gorman described McHenry, who announced he will retire at the end of 2018 after 44 years as a steward of Kansas City’s acclaimed parks and boulevards.

Gorman said McHenry has two characteristics that have served him and the city well.

“He has natural good taste,” she said, “and the other thing is he knows how to get along with people. You just don’t hear about him fighting with anybody.”

In his announcement, McHenry recalled building fiberglass animals for Penguin Park, as well as cutting logs for cabins and other structures at the Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Hodge Park.

He worked his way up to oversee the Park Maintenance Division and to deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department before becoming director in 2003.

McHenry supervised the $71 million expansion and makeover of the Kansas City Zoo and was project director for the restoration and expansion of the Liberty Memorial. He coordinated response and recovery efforts in the wake of a paralyzing ice storm in 2002.

During his tenure, the parks and boulevard system were listed on the National Register of Historic Places and voters approved a half-cent sales tax for parks that generates $35 million a year.

“It has been an enjoyable career and I look forward to enjoying our parks and boulevards as a retired resident,” McHenry said.

He will be succeeded as director by Deputy Director Terry Rynard, who will be the first woman director of the Kansas City parks department in its 126-year-history.

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