EVANSTON — Quietly amid the pandemic, a staple at the local rec center called it a wrap on his 40-year career. Evanston Parks and Recreation District Division Manager Steve Liechty rode off into the sunset over the summer.
“Working for parks and recreation for 40 years was a great job,” Liechty told the Herald. “Throughout my life I was always involved in sports and, in 1973, was named outstanding athlete my senior year in high school. What I loved the most about working with parks and rec was the opportunity to develop programs for a diverse population, regardless of their individual skills or abilities, and help people develop lifetime skills to stay active and healthy.”
Since all or most events were canceled due to the current health crisis, a private party at the recreation center was held for Liechty in June.
Liechty’s career extends back to his college days at Brigham Young University, when he worked a summer job with the recreation department there. In April of 1980, when Liechty graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management, he was hired by Dennis Poppinga, the first director for the new department with an office at City Hall. Liechty’s position at that time was recreation program coordinator.
The office moved to the current recreation center when it opened in October 1984. In 2000, Liechty was promoted to recreation division manager. Poppinga and Liechty worked together for 35 years until Poppinga’s retirement in 2015.
During his time with EPRD, Liechty served a two-year term on the board of directors for the Wyoming Recreation and Parks Association, 12 years as the Wyoming State Chair for the Hershey Youth Track and Field Program and 10 years on the board for Jr. Jazz
Liechty’s family has a long history in Evanston — they moved here when he was only 11 years old. He has 10 siblings, seven brothers and three sisters, and five of them also reside in Evanston and are active in business and civic careers. Liechty said his parents passed away a month apart, many years ago. His wife, Jerri (Albertson) Liechty, was born and raised in Evanston and currently works part-time as a school crossing guard. Together they raised four children in Evanston; two still live here and the other two live close by, in Ogden. They have seven grandchildren.
Liechty said, at 65 years of age, his plans for retirement are to stay active and keep up on exercise. Eventually, when the COVID virus is contained, he and Jerri hope to travel. Now he works as a substitute bus driver for the school district.
“My career was very rewarding … helping other people get healthy,” Liechty said. “I plan on skiing in the winter and golfing in the summer. I don’t want to become sedentary and lazy. Also, Jerri and I are very involved in our church and that is very important to us. I was bishop of Ward 8 from 2004 to 2010, and I will always be an active member.”