Shawnee County Parks and Rec official Terry Bertels to retire after 33 years

Shawnee County Parks and Recreation on Thursday announced the upcoming retirement of deputy director Terry Bertels, shown here. (2015 file photo/Topeka Capital-Journal)

Terry Bertels played a key role in shaping what this community offers in terms of parks and recreation.


Bertels, deputy director of Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, is retiring and will end a 33-year career in parks and recreation when he works his final day with that department on Nov. 9, the department announced in a news release Thursday.

“Terry Bertels is not an attention seeker, but his integrity and his quiet, calm, competent leadership style have earned him the respect of all who deal with him,” said John Knight, director of Shawnee County Parks and Recreation.

Bertels has shown a commitment to his profession and an unwavering desire to serve his peers, his co-workers and the department’s patrons, Knight added.

Bertels became acting director of Topeka’s parks and recreation department in 2005, was subsequently chosen to hold that position on a permanent basis, then accepted employment with Shawnee County when city and county parks and recreation operations were consolidated under county control on Jan. 1, 2012.

Bertels played a key role in that merger and the reorganization of the departments, becoming the new department’s deputy director for properties, planning and assets, according to Thursday’s news release.

It said that with the city, Bertels expanded hiking and biking trails, built a state-of-the-art greenhouse in Gage Park and an art wall in Aaron Douglas Art Park, added a building to the Ward-Meade Historic Site, renovated playgrounds, hosted national sports tournaments, added Americans with Disabilities Act improvements to parks and oversaw events that included the Sunflower State Games and Special Olympics.

As a Shawnee County employee, the release said, Bertels managed the development and construction of the $9.2 million Midwest Health Aquatic Center, as well as $1.25 million in renovations at Dornwood Park, including rebuilding two baseball/softball fields and adding a spray park.

The release said Bertels has also hosted and planned Kansas Recreation and Park Association conferences; furthered the Senior Olympics and Sunflower State Games in Kansas; and mentored co-workers who have advanced in the parks and recreation profession.

Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.