By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — After almost 40 years working for the town, Director of Youth, Parks and Recreation Dan Wiles will step down from his post Jan. 23.
Wiles, 57, has known the town from an early age, having grown up on McConkey Drive. In 1973, at the age of 18, he began working for the recreation department. He manned the toboggan run at Sheridan Park, with a pay of $2.37 an hour.
“I was at the top of
the toboggan slide, and let everyone go with the foot pedal,” Wiles said.
He had fun with it, too, putting on an announcer’s voice and creating contests for the tobogganers.
In 1977, Wiles graduated from Buffalo State with a degree in psychology. He originally planned to become a teacher or a psychologist, but found that with a job in the recreation program, he was able to employ both passions by coaching and teaching the youth of the town.
Wiles started off as the senior recreation director in the fall of ’77, his first full time position for the town.
“Directing the senior center let me learn how to administer a larger program,” he said.
His hiring came at a time when the department only organized recreational activities, and didn’t yet oversee parks and youth.
Through the years spent working his way up through the ranks, Wiles, who is still a town resident, oversaw the town’s assumption of the outdoor pools and the department’s expansion to also servicing parks and youth.
In 2000, he became the Director of Youth, Parks and Recreation.
And although Wiles gained years of experience and achievements in his position, he made sure to mention that the job also helped him meet his future wife, a former secretary for the town.
“It was a town romance,” he said.
But after all those years of coaching kids and administering a large, robust program that organizes everything from Winterfest to ice skating lessons, Wiles has his eye on something a bit simpler, with a more centralized purpose.
“This mission is so wide,” Wiles said. “I’m looking for something at a nonprofit with just one mission, something less stressful, but something with the same sense of commitment.”
Wiles isn’t sure where his next position will be, but knows he wants to continue working and be able to help his 20-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter with college and wedding costs.
“I won’t make that much and I will still have my pension, but I want to stay fulfilled,” Wiles said.
Councilman Dan Crangle, head of the Youth, Parks and Recreation committee, said he and Councilman Joseph Emminger interviewed four candidates for the position Monday, with another four interviews yet to take place.
Wiles said he will officially retire Jan. 23, but will continue working for the town until his replacement his hired.
He was honored with a certificate of recognition at his last official board meeting Monday.
Crangle spoke to Wiles’ many achievements, which include expanding the Winterfest from a one-day event to a five-day event, restoring the plane at Kenney Field and overseeing the Veterans Memorial at Kenney Field, as well as noting Wiles’ extensive volunteer work.
“He is also a member of the Ken-Ton Kiwanis, which serves dinner to 300 people on Thanksgiving,” Crangle said. “I was very impressed by his effort. He is right there until the end.”
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150