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Retired St. Charles Park District Employee Boasts Longest Career in Illinois’ Parks and Recreation History

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St. Charles Park District, 101 S. 2nd St., St. Charles, IL  60174
Submitted By:  Erika Young, Public Relations & Marketing Manager  630-513-4319

Glemza began working for the St. Charles Park District in August of 1942, a few years after construction of the Pottawattamie Pool was completed. The pool was made possible due to a government grant that Glemza’s father, Algert Swanson, helped obtain. The $367,000 grant was one of the largest awarded at the time and enabled the Park Board to complete Pottawatomie Golf Course, Pottawatomie Swimming Pool, and the amphitheater in the park. In addition, the funds were used to renovate the ball field and bleachers. This public improvement project was a significant historical achievement that aided the St. Charles community during the times of the Great Depression.

Glemza’s happiest memory related to the Park District was the day that the Park Board received a telegram confirming that St. Charles would receive the grant money. "It was during the depression and many people were out of work. This provided the opportunity to hire many people and helped St. Charles so much. I remember how exciting it was to receive the news that St. Charles received a grant, which was one of the biggest at the time," she said.  In June 2009, the Park Board officially changed the name of Pottawatomie Pool to Swanson Pool, to acknowledge the generous and long-lasting contributions made by both Carol and her father for so many years.

Over the years, Glemza served the Park District in many capacities. Initially, she began by working summers as a cashier and manager at the pool. She then went on to help keep the Park District’s accounting books. "In the mid-60s, we got our first director, and I became full-time. The Park District established a partnership with the Baker Community Center to have offices there, because before that, we didn’t have any offices. So I came to the Baker Community Center and I was business manager for many, many years. Then, I became administrative assistant to the director and to the Board," explained Glemza.  

She has truly enjoyed her many years working for the Park District. "I liked everything about it! I really liked helping people to have fun. Our parks are beautiful and offer so much to the public in the way of recreation, so I’ve just enjoyed seeing people enjoy themselves," she said.

Ray Ochromowicz, Director of Parks and Recreation for St. Charles, feels Glemza was an invaluable member of the Park District. "She is a walking, talking history book of the St. Charles Park District and St. Charles community. When someone wants to know some historical fact, we don’t hunt through files, we converse with Carol. We are fortunate that while she has retired to enjoy more time with her family, she continues to volunteer as the secretary to the Park Board and to two Park District related foundations."

Peter Murphy, President and CEO of the Illinois Association of Park Districts, is equally impressed with Glemza’s years of service. "Carol Glemza began working for the St. Charles Park District in 1942, when there were 72 member Park Districts in the Illinois Association of Park Districts.  Today, there are more than 300! There’s something special about the people in the parks and recreation field. They are dedicated individuals who contribute an enormous amount of time and energy working to improve the quality of life in their communities. Carol was one of those employees who caught the spirit of parks and recreation early on in her career, and she carried it throughout her 69 years of service. She will truly be missed, but she has helped to build one of the best Park Districts in the State of Illinois. We commend her on her service and know that during retirement, she will continue to enjoy the parks, programs and facilities she helped to create."  

Now that Glemza has retired, she plans on traveling and spending more time with her family. She continues to volunteer for the Park District, the St. Charles Park Foundation and the Henry Rockwell Baker Memorial Community Center. "I’ll miss the people I worked with, and I’ll miss the Park District’s operations because it is very interesting and provides so many opportunities to people in a recreational way. I’ve enjoyed this so very much and I’ve enjoyed the wonderful boards that we’ve had over the years. They have done so much to make this a great Park District.  It has been a pleasure working for them." Glemza can rest assured that the people of St. Charles and the Park District will miss her as well. 
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