After 35 years with Castlegar Recreation, Verona Walker retired May 1 and looks forward to enjoying her own leisure time.
Walker’s employment with Castlegar Recreation began even before she took on a permanent position. When she was 16, she was hired as a summer program coordinator.
“I started as a summer coordinator when I was 16 and then I worked at the Bob Branson pool as the cashier,” she said.
In 1981 she was hired on full-time as the program coordinator. At the time, Castlegar Recreation only had two positions, program coordinator and director, but a lot has a changed since then. By the time Walker retired, her position was recreation supervisor and she was working alongside Jim Crockett, manager of recreation, Audrey Polovnikoff, recreational and cultural programmer, and Chris Briggeman, aquatic and fitness programmer, at the Castlegar & District Community Complex.
The complex itself has undergone a number of changes since Walker started there.
“The facility’s changed a lot, because when I first started, where we have our meeting rooms was actually our main office,” Walker said.
Technology has also changed since then.
“When I started I used to do the programs and we had the old electric typewriters and we had a gestetner machine.”
And it’s not just the facility and technology that changed. Walker estimates that in her 35 year career she worked with approximately 200 different people.
“With lifeguards, and front office staff, and program people,” she said. “It’s interesting because many of the aquatic people who started when they were 17, well know their kids are coming through the doors, and we’re teaching them swim lessons. And a lot of those people have gone on to be doctors and nurses, and have great careers.”
Walker enjoyed the flexibility and variety that came with the job.
“One thing I can say about a job in recreation is no two days are the same, because you’ve got different people, different problems, different interesting events happening, so it’s always changing.”
But in her 35 years with Castlegar Recreation there was one thing Walker hadn’t had the opportunity to do yet, and she insisted she be given the chance before she retired.
“One thing I had said to them, ‘Before I leave this facility,’ — because I’ve worked with the ice, I did all the ice scheduling… — I said, ‘I have to drive the Zamboni,’ so I got to drive the Zamboni,” she said.
Now that she’s retired, Walker looks forward to giving back to the community by volunteering some of her time.