Barney Wilson, the city of Kent’s first parks and recreation director, died on Wednesday.
He was a passionate visionary and dynamic leader in our community for 37 years, according to a city of Kent Parks and Recreation Department Facebook post on Friday. Wilson started as a shared King County/City of Kent employee in 1957 and became Kent’s first parks and recreation director in 1969 when the department achieved “official” department status through city ordinance.
Wilson’s tenure left a legacy that includes Kent Memorial Park, Russell Road/Hogan Park, the Kent Commons, the Kent Senior Center, miles of trails, numerous neighborhood and community parks, Riverbend Golf Complex, the Cultural Arts Division and Arts Commission, world-renowned Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks Park, along with awards and accolades for professional excellence.
To his family, Wilson was a loving husband, father, and grandpa who enjoyed boating, the sun in Arizona, taking care of his house at the beach, sharing a good joke and spending time with people he loved. To the city of Kent, the Kent Parks and Recreation Department, and the broader community of Park and Recreation professionals across the state and country, he will remain a legend forever, according to the Facebook post.
No age was listed for Wilson.
“This is incredibly sad,” said Zandria Michaud, a city of Kent Parks and Recreation Commission member, in a Facebook comment. “Barney Wilson had the foresight to invest in, preserve, and set aside an incredible amount of open space for Kent’s future generations. Kent would look very different if not for his vision of the Kent Parks system. Condolences to his friends and family.”