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News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 47. March 30, 2004
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Kenneth R Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds
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Fritz Hedges
FRITZ HEDGES, 1943-2004

I write in sadness and continuing disbelief about the death of Fritz Hedges on Saturday morning, March 27, 2004. He was 60 years old.

He died doing what he loved best with the one he loved best. He and Belinda Gigliotti were bicycling in Edmonds when Fritz fell behind. Belinda went back and saw that he had fallen from his bicycle. A passing motorist called 9-1-1. Paramedics worked for a long time but could not revive him.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Fritz earned a bachelor's degree from Tulane University. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1969, including a year in Vietnam, then settled in Seattle and earned a Master's degree in urban planning at the University of Washington in 1972. He joined Seattle Parks and Recreation in 1971 as an intern in the planning section.

Fritz's enormous influence and contributions at the Department are difficult to measure. Over his career of 30-plus years, he worked on nearly every major parks and recreation initiative, mainly as a planner, beginning with projects funded through the massive Forward Thrust bond issue. In his next position as an environmental planner, he analyzed project impacts in the early days of Environmental Impact Statements, including the EIS for Discovery Park. He progressed to senior planner and Deputy Director of Planning and Program Development, overseeing the planning staff, the 1991 Community Center Levy projects, the Shoreline Park Improvement Fund and development of Parks' first Comprehensive Plan.

In 1993, he became Director of the Citywide Division, managing Parks' centralized aquatics, horticulture, golf, recreation policy, security, scheduling, and planning functions. More recently, he helped guide planning for the 1999 Community Center Levy and the 2000 Pro Parks Levy, and took the lead on numerous other major issues such as the city's joint use agreement with Seattle Public Schools, the Joint Athletic Facilities Development Program, the Mayor's Youth Initiative, management of our three 18-hole golf courses, and the implementation of the Arboretum Master Plan. In a role he relished most, he had become, in the last year, the health and fitness czar for Parks and Recreation.

Fritz had the uncanny ability to combine big-picture thinking with meticulous attention to detail. He may have been the last person in city government to convert to the computer age, but his handwritten memos and reports, models of precision and the well-turned phrase, became legendary. We treasured his sense of humor and clever (sometimes wicked) writing style. One of the biggest honors a departing employee could receive was to have Fritz write a witty poem about him or her. Although he didn't seek the limelight or credit for his accomplishments, Fritz was a leader and mentor by example. Staff members, including myself, came to rely on his sage advice and vast knowledge of the Department and parks issues. Always a busy man, he never failed to take the time to inquire about personal matters.

In his free time, Fritz was a well-known sun worshiper. He loved vacationing in Hawaii and swimming near his house boat in Portage Bay. He also enjoyed kayaking, running and playing golf.

I can hardly think of what Parks and Recreation will be like without Fritz Hedges working down the hall. During his years at Parks, Fritz became a voice of reason and reality, of humor and humility as we faced our daily challenges. I will miss him as a colleague, advisor, and most of all, as a friend.

The event to celebrate the life of Fritz Hedges has been set for Thursday, April 1, 2 to 4:30 p.m. South Lake Union Armory. In keeping with Fritz's playful spirit and love of Hawaii the event will have a Hawaiian theme. Aloha attire is encouraged!

I will be in touch soon.

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