Mary E. Grogan previously worked as Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Modesto, CA; Recreation Superintendent for the City of Modesto; Recreation Supervisor for the City of Modesto; and Recreation Leader for the City of Fresno, CA. She received her B.A. degree in Physical Education from Fresno State College and graduate work from San Francisco State College and the University of California at Berkeley. Professional organizations she was affiliated with include: National Recreation and Park Association; California Park and Recreation Society; League of California Cities; and Chi Kappa Rho. Some special recognitions include: Fellowship Award, California Park and Recreation Society (1971); Who's Who of the West (1966); Who's Who of American Women (1965); and Citation Award in recognition of outstanding service to the field of recreation from the California Park and Recreation Society (1964).
The following appeared in the AAPRA Bulletin, 1995
Mary E. Grogan - A Lady of Leisure?? Not true, you say! During her college years, in fact even before she graduated from high school, she was already working as a Recreation Leader for the City of Fresno.
After receving her degree from Fresno State University, Mary was hired as Recreation Supervisor for the City of Modesto. She became the Recreation Superintendent, the Acting Director, and then Director of Parks and Recreation. For the next 35 years, she built the department and enhanced the quality of life for people in the city and in the surrounding areas. She retired from this position in June 1992. She said that she would not trade her career, and that she loved every minute of her job. However, each of us knows when it is the right time to retire and she appreciates the freedom to decide what to do with her time.
When asked to name two accomplishments during her tenure that bring her special pride and pleasure, she described an early policy adopted by the Modesto City Council (with her encouragement) that a park site would be acquired and developed adjacent to each elementary and high school as well as the community college. This action took the politics out of park locations. The policy also promoted cooperation between the city and the schools in the development of swimming pools and multipurpose facilities. It seems fitting that one of these sites is named Grogan Community Park.
Mary reviewed the development of Two Rivers Regional Park. This was cooperative venture by the City of Modesto, the City of Ceres and Stanislaus County. It is a linear regional park along the Tuolome River with its own Regional Park Board. She seemed especially pleased that a four-mile stretch of the park is named "Grogan's Groves"!
She also takes pride in the extensive street tree planting program throughout Modesto - noting that trees are especially selected for their fall color.
Mary is the first and only woman to serve as President to her State Society and the National Recreation and Park Association. When asked about the value of these organizations to young people entering the field today, she emphasized the importance of networking and the opportunities for ideas to enhance the services provided for people in our communities. She promotes the attitude of, "What can I do for the national movement?" People who ask what being a member will do for them - are asking the wrong question!
A highlight of her involvements was being appointed to the NRPA Goals Committee. She pointed out that the work of this committee helped NRPA become truly a national organization with representation on Regional Councils, the Board of Trustees and other boards and committees coming from all parts of the country. She hopes NRPA will implement the findings of the Vision 2000 Committee.
The Academy is in a different category in that it is not open for people to join. Its members are experienced professionals and Mary, a charter member, believes that this is its value and its uniqueness. People do exhaust their opportunities for service in state organizations and NRPA. The Academy provides new pathways. The Academy can and does take on projects beyond what NRPA can do. Its members have a lot to give and represent many facets of the profession. She especially commends the Legends Program for recognizing our pioneers and preserving our history.
When asked what message she would give to park and recreation majors who are nearing graduation, Mary recommended that they focus on the need to understand what citizens want and deserve. She would encourage them to see obstacles as challenges and to find ways to provide the things that make life worthwhile in our communities.
So, what is this deeply involved, deeply committed professional doing now? She has been sitting on oral interview boards and doing a little consulting. But she quickly pointed out that she guards her time and is choosy about volunteering. She has enlarged her cabin in the mountains and enjoys spending time with nieces and nephews in the three generations of her family. She loves to travel, to sew, and to read. She also like to "goof off!" After all these years, she relishes her freedom.
Mary Grogan, a leader of leaders, who has contributed pragmatic advice, ideas, and policy to so many groups, organizations, and governmental bodies, is now directing - and enjoying - her own leisure time.
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