Saturday won’t be the same in McAllen. Larry Pressler will no longer be the city’s Director of Parks and Recreation. Friday is his last day in the position he accepted in 1977 after four years with the department. McAllen is going to miss Larry Pressler.
Five Things Many People Seem to Know About Larry Pressler
5. Larry joined Parks and Recreation in 1973, serving as Superintendent of Recreation and Aquatics.
4. The after-school programs at 11 schools in McAllen ISD are part of Larry’s incredible legacy. Those programs serve approximately 1,100 children per day during the school year and 6,000 per day during the summer.
3. The walking trails along Bicentennial and Col. Rowe Boulevard…Larry Pressler.
2. The completion of the Bill Schupp Park Amphitheatre and Sunken Gardens is Larry’s Swan Song.
1. Larry bleeds maroon.
A Few Things People May Not
Know About Larry
Larry Pressler is an expert welder. He should be. He started welding when he was only 10 years old. Because he was a “ranch boy,” he was a member of Future Farmers of America throughout high school in Fredericksburg. During that time, he designed a horse trailer and welded the entire thing together without any help. His family still uses that trailer on their ranch today.
Larry is also a history buff, intrigued by stories of his German family. It was in 1861 that they started the family’s ranch near Fredericksburg. According to a letter former McAllen Mayor Othal E. Brand, Sr. sent to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in 1992, Larry’s family is part of the Texas Land Heritage Program. Brand writes that this is “an honor bestowed on Texas families who still live on and operate ranches founded by their families 100 or more years ago.”
Larry is a trailblazer. *When he was promoted to director of the department in 1977, he became the youngest Parks and Recreation Director in the state. *He is co-founder of the U.S./Mexico Border Conference on Parks and Wildlife. *Larry drove around town with former McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Cathey. The two focused on areas of town where both schools and parks were needed. The school purchased property in those areas and the city bought property right next to it so they could create the school-city parks so many people enjoy today. They are a result of Larry’s vision, his sweat and his persistence
Larry is an inventor. Years ago, Larry invented and patented a rotating trash can rack. Two trash cans fit in the rack. “It’s like a Lazy Susan,” Larry said. “The cans rotate into the alley and then back into people’s yard after trash is picked up.” He advertised his product, manufactured in Mexico City, worldwide in fence magazines. He contracted with Kuwait City for 10,000 units. The plan was to ship the racks to Veracruz and then export to Kuwait City. Right as the contract was scheduled to be finalized, the U.S. attacked Kuwait and the deal was off. Larry has an entire pad of inventions he will pursue during his retirement.
Larry has developed inventions for his department, as well. “We have to be resourceful in Parks and Rec,” he said. “We manufacture stuff in our welding shop here at the office all the time and have it galvanized.” Lately Larry’s been trying to figure out a way to remotely open and close the gates at the city/school parks. Under Larry’s watch, the department developed a Trunking Radio System that allows Parks and Rec to use dead space in the police department’s remote radio system. “Our irrigation computer sends messages through the system to the 80 irrigation systems at McAllen park sites to water the grass,” he said.
A Conversation with City Manager Mike Perez & Asst. City Manager Brent Branham, About Larry
Mike: “There were only about eight people in the department when Larry started. Now he manages about 150.”
Mike: “So many have gone through Larry’s recreation program and are now business people here…people like banker Providence Boneta.”
Brent: “Yes, his tree of Parks and Rec people spread all over. And speaking of spreading all over, did you know Larry planted all of the trees at the La Vista Park himself?”
Mike: “That’s Larry. The trail at La Quinta Mazatlan was personally hacked out by Larry and Omar (Rodriguez, Larry’s former assistant who is now the director of the McAllen Convention Center). And Larry helped dig all of the holes for the Lion’s Club flag project along Bicentennial and along 2nd Street (Col. Rowe Boulevard). Unless you’ve worked with Larry, you don’t know how hands-on he is. He likes to dig a hole and plant a tree and then he comes back with a master plan for a park. We joke with Larry. He’s used to being a leader and getting the job done, but I’m curious to see if the cows on the ranch are going to listen to him. I think they’re just going to moo at him and eat some more hay. But, seriously, Larry loves McAllen. We know he’s going to miss McAllen.”
And McAllen is
Going to Miss Him
We can’t send Larry off to College Station, where he and his wife will make their home, without wishes from some of the people whose lives have been touched by Larry Pressler:
“When I came to work for Mr. Pressler in the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of McAllen, he told me, ‘Welcome to the family.’ We are all one big family here. We look out for each other and take care of one another. That’s what family members do. I have been part of this family for 10 years and being his secretary makes it extra hard to say good-bye. He is the best boss anyone could ever have. He has taught all of us so much. We have learned a lot from Mr. Pressler. I will miss him, the department will miss him and the city will miss him. He is going to retire and work on more fun things now because we all know Mr. Pressler never stops working.”—Jolinda Hernandez, Administrative Secretary
“Larry is a stickler for detail when it comes to planning. He wasn’t always this way. In fact, he took on this trait by learning the hard way. The International Friendship Run is one of Larry’s favorite events and back in the early years it would start at the Plaza Principal in Reynosa with their mayor shooting the official starter’s pistol. The first year of the race, Larry took for granted that the Reynosa officials would have a ‘starter’s pistol’ for the mayor to begin the race. Well, they didn’t, so the mayor took a pistol from one of the police officers assisting with the race and shot the gun with live ammo to start the race. Ready, set, GO! Larry, may you enjoy a wonderful and ‘lively’ retirement as you have all your years in McAllen.”—Omar Rodriguez
“I wish for him to take one month at least to do nothing but rest and enjoy his new life.”—Gracie Garza, Supervisor of Accounting, Parks and Rec
“I hope you carry that enthusiasm you have had for the past 35 years into your retirement years.”—Juan Berrones, Mechanic, Parks and Rec
“I met Larry when I first came to McAllen in 1974 when signing up to play softball. He used to be good looking. I had the pleasure of working on many projects with Larry, including a 10-year stint on the Parks board. I remember him coming up with the dumbest idea ever..linear parks on 2nd and on Bicentennial. He was going to get state grants. He was nuts. That would never happen. Oops. Larry’s foresight and vision are why we are where we are today with our parks system. Larry’s guidance with Quinta Mazatlan has made it the envy of the World Birding Center. We can never repay Larry for what he has given to McAllen. He will be sorely missed, and most importantly, with him gone, now I am the ugliest guy in McAllen.”—Rick Guerra, McAllen businessman
“I wish him the very best of luck in all his future adventures. Hope life brings great health and prosperity for him and his family. I admire him for his ambition, hard work and dedication. I hope to follow in his footsteps one day.”—Irene Garza, Secretary, Parks and Rec
“Your service will be remembered and appreciated for yeas to come. People like you never really retire. They just shift gears and go off in a new direction. It was my privilege to work with you.”—Monica Montilla, Management Assistant, Parks and Rec
“May your retirement be the most meaningful growth phase yet with time shared with your family, and may you find renewed passion and purpose in this next phase of your life.”—Marlen Dianas, Recreation Secretary, Parks and Rec
“I met Larry Pressler when I worked at City Hall during the summer of my junior year in high school (over 35 years ago). I remember thinking he was so energetic as he zipped around City Hall. As an impressionable young person, I aspired to develop that type of energy and enthusiasm for my future job or career. I’m proud that I have been able to work directly with Larry on a couple of projects that have been meaningful to me. He has been supportive, helpful, fun and enthusiastic, as I expected he would be. My wish for Larry is that he enjoy every day of his retirement and that he continue to mentor others with his infectious enthusiasm, dedication and enjoyment of the tasks at hand.”—Elva Cerda, banker with Frost Bank
“I wish you an old Irish blessing: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”—Cheryl Corona, Receptionist, Parks and Rec
“You don’t replace a Larry Pressler because he is one-of-a-kind. I judge people by their performance when no one is watching. Larry always strived to perform at the highest level. He will be truly missed by many here in our city. He leaves behind a great Parks and Recreation Department and his footsteps are all over our city. I wonder how we are going to feel during both of our parades without Larry.”—McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez
Vaya con Dios, Larry…you will be missed.