During this year’s Heels & Wheels: Delaware Walk & Bike Summit, held on Friday, March 21 at the University of Delaware, Director of Milford Parks & Recreation Gary Emory was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The summit is designed to bring walkers, hikers, bicyclists and runners together for an educational conference, discussing the economic and social benefits of offering recreational activities throughout the state of Delaware. Governor Markell spoke to those in attendance, over 250 participants, of the importance of healthy communities in Delaware.
“The evidence is clear that many economic benefits come with trail development,” said Governor Jack Markell. “They improve quality of life, make Delaware a more attractive place to live, and help support businesses. We’ve made progress creating new and better trails and pathways, whether for recreation or commuting, and this summit will help us keep that effort moving forward.”
At the closing presentation of the summit, Delaware State Senator David Sokola presented Emory with the Lifetime Achievement Award. A student at the University of Delaware, Gary graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Parks & Recreation, a degree that was only developed two years before he received it. Beginning with the Milford Parks & Recreation Department in 1978 at the age of twenty-four, he worked under Dave Coil, the founder of the department in Milford for three years before taking on the Director’s position in 1981.
In the last three decades Gary’s largest accomplishment is the creation and maintenance of the Mispillion Greenway Riverwalk,which consists of 23 phases connecting Maple Street to Goat Island by way of pedestrian and bicycle paths. Always an advocate for creating healthy lifestyle opportunities Gary was an integral part of the land acquisition, planning, developing and maintenance that has allowed the town to revive the Mispillion River. Many lifelong residents remember when the Mispillion River was a place that people avoided just twenty years ago. Emory had the opportunity to speak to those in attendance about his 35 years of service to the Milford Parks & Recreation Department.
“Looking back on my career, thirty-five years ago the greenway connecting Milford was a dream, in the mid-70s it became a study, the vision began to form in 1978 when the Parks Department was created and today it has become a reality.”
Despite all of Gary’s many successes and his ability to always be thinking about the future of Milford’s recreational opportunities, he remains very humble and thankful for his thirty-five years of service.
“I love Milford, I am lucky to have had the opportunity to serve my hometown,” commented Gary. “I feel like the job was custom-built for me. Serving the youth is something I enjoy doing and it is what kept me going.”