For 23 years, Carol Gerard has been the face and voice of the Pratt Recreation Department. It was — and is — a job she enjoyed, but she has decided it’s time to move on to the next stage in her life.


For 23 years, Carol Gerard has been the face and voice of the Pratt Recreation Department. It was — and is — a job she enjoyed, but she has decided it’s time to move on to the next stage in her life.

Director Bruce Pinkall plans to hire another employee, but says he can’t replace Gerard.

“There won’t be another Carol,” he said at a reception on her last day of work Tuesday. “Pratt Recreation is what it’s become because of her personality and enthusiasm and organization.”

In 1988, Pratt Rec was just the two of them. Since then it’s grown to include activities director Dee Hill and a maintenance person. In the 23 years, the department has overseen a lot of projects — Green Sports Complex, the skate structure in Loren “Babe” Minnis Park on South Main, the Carl Carlson soccer complex in Mae Dennis Park, and the expansion of the Walter P. Blake Tennis Complex. Gerard has documented them all in photographs that fill a half-dozen thick albums.

She’s also documented the kids who have played at those parks.

“My biggest kick is seeing the kids I started with coming back and coaching or having their own kids participate,” she said.

“A lot of people have jobs they have to go to,” she continued. “This is recreation, people are coming here to play.”

Organizing the play — the tournaments, the summer ball teams, the winter activities — is work, and while Gerard’s job description said her part would be done in an 8-hour day, that wasn’t always the case. She’s done everything from handling the registrations to making sure everyone showed up to work and has been known to move portable bathrooms where they needed to be.

An active participant in Pratt Recreation activities from 1977, when she moved to Pratt until June 1988, when she started working there, she knew what the job would entail. It’s been a great fit, she said.

But now it’s time to move on. She has a daughter and three active grandchildren who live in Kingman. Her 85-year-old father lives in Atchison. She will spend Christmas with him, and looks forward to going fishing with him in the spring. She has a couple of home remodeling projects in mind and wants to take some trips. And when the weather warms up, she might show up at the tennis complex to hit some balls.

“I want to have time to do everything I want to do,” she said. “Sixty-two is young enough to enjoy things. You never know.”

And she wanted to retire before Pinkall suggested that she should.

With 23 years at the same job, the only full-time job she’s had since college, she will miss parts of it. Mostly, she knows that she will miss the people she has gotten to know because of her job.