VIEW FROM DENNY PARK
News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 47. March 30, 2004
Kenneth R Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs,
projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken
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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.