Longtime Sunset Hills employee recognized

Evelyn Westerhold recently was presented the Support Staff Award by the Missouri Park and Recreation Association. She is pictured with, from left, Ryan Taylor, Jordan Nichols, Director of Parks and Recreation Gerald Brown and Herb and Judy Pyne.

Evelyn Westerhold recently was presented the Support Staff Award by the Missouri Park and Recreation Association. She is pictured with, from left, Ryan Taylor, Jordan Nichols, Director of Parks and Recreation Gerald Brown and Herb and Judy Pyne.

A longtime employee of the Sunset Hills Parks and Recreation Department recently received a prestigious statewide award for her service to the city.

The Missouri Park and Recreation Association honored Evelyn Westerhold with the Support Staff Award at its recent annual conference in Columbia.

During her 28 years of service, Westerhold was the “face of the Parks Department” until she retired in January, Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Brown said when he presented Westerhold with a plaque from the city at the December Board of Aldermen meeting.

“The residents and staff of the city of Sunset Hills would like to congratulate her on her Support Staff Award for her years of service and dedication, and wish her well throughout her retirement,” Brown said.

Brown and a group of city employees caravanned to Columbia to see Westerhold accept her award.

City staff and friends bought Westerhold a bench, a helicopter ride and a fishing trip as gifts for her retirement.

Her Jan. 6 retirement party at the Community Center was attended by many city officials, including Mayor Mark Furrer, several aldermen and former mayors.

Westerhold took home the state honor on the strength of Brown’s nomination, which he read when he presented her with the city honor.

The longtime parks employee started working for Sunset Hills in 1988, when one full-time employee and two part-time staffers, including Westerhold, oversaw 40 acres of parks. As the department expanded, Westerhold became a full-time employee in 1996. Today, the department’s 15 full-time employees and 150 part-time or seasonal workers oversee 167 acres of parks, Brown noted.

“With all these changes, Evelyn has been the face of the Parks and Recreation Department for the past 28 years,” he said.

In her years with the city, Westerhold never missed a single Easter egg hunt, Halloween event or fishing derby, Brown said. She was involved in all the department’s special programs, assisting with the programming and helping out the day of events.

Although Westerhold is now retired, she is still involved with the Parks Department, Brown noted: She still works out in the fitness facility at the Community Center.