MIAMI COUNTY — John A. Wannemacher will be leaving the Miami County Park District better than when it was founded.
Wannemacher, a retired attorney, is one of three county park board commissioners and will retire at the end of the year after serving on the board since 1973.
The Miami County Park District held a reception on Monday in Wannemacher’s honor at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.
Wannemacher has served as president of the park board since 1975. He began his service 44 years ago, along with the late Scott Garbry and the late Curtis Reynolds, when the park district was formed with 5 acres and no budget. The park district has since expanded to more than 2,100 acres and 15 parks around Miami County.
Wannemacher was tapped as a commissioner by Judge Sam Faust.
“Judge Faust appointed me and I had no idea at the time what it involved,” Wannemacher said with a laugh. “After a time, it became a passion. I like the outdoors and being very much involved.”
Wannemacher said he is most proud of the levies that were passed and the taxpayers’ support of the park district over the years.
“I was at the right place at the right time with some of the land that we acquired, so I suppose that’s my contribution,” he said.
Scott Myers, executive director of the Miami County Park District, said Wannemacher was a great leader of the parks.
“He has given us great guidance and at the same time, he has left us a lot of room to be professionals to let us do what we do,” Myers said on Monday. “He provided us guidance over the years and didn’t meddle in the day-to-day operations.”
Myers said Wannemacher was instrumental in the county’s bike trail system and was a champion of the parks during levy campaigns.
In 2009, the park district dedicated the John A. Wannemacher Nature Reserve, a 110-acre park on Monroe-Concord Road.
“Anybody that has provided the service that he has provided to the park system and the community, it was very fitting to have a park named after him,” Myers said.
Wannemacher again shared the story of visiting the Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary’s boardwalk and seeing three men in wheelchairs who enjoyed their time in the woods on wheels.
“That story will always stay with me. It still gets me right here,” Wannemacher said as he patted his chest.
The Troy Area Chamber of Commerce selected Wannemacher as the 2017 Distinguished Citizen at the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual recognition banquet in November.
Wannemacher is married to his wife, Sally, and they have three children and several grandchildren.
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