Remembering a Parks Advocate

In this week’s PPF blog, we remember, Lisa Turpel, a wonderful park advocate that passed away earlier this month.  Lisa worked with PP&R for 30 years and volunteered in parks her whole life. As one of our board members, Julie Vigeland said, “Lisa is one of the first people I met when I joined the Portland Parks board. I was overwhelmed at the amount of information that was provided at my early meetings. . .She was warm, welcoming, and sincere in reaching out to this newest of Parkies.”

With permission we’ve reprinted the PP&R post about Lisa’s lasting legacy in parks.  You can view Lisa’s obituary in the Oregonian here.

Lisa at PP&R picnic. Courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

Lisa at PP&R picnic. Courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

Our PP&R family has lost another friend and colleague, Lisa Turpel. Lisa was an institution with Portland Parks & Recreation during her 30 year career. Lisa came to the bureau in 1980 with a degree in therapeutic recreation and a passion to develop PP&R's ability to meet the needs of people with disabilities, and she retired in 2010 having overseen virtually every element of PP&R’s recreation services.

We take from her passing the strength and confidence to carry on this great work.

Her role with the bureau touched on everything from community education; services to people with disabilities (even before ADA); arts & cultural programming; senior recreation; sports; and aquatics. It was more than just a job – she lived an active life experiencing recreation as a supporter of the arts, a daily swimmer, a lifelong learner, and a fierce advocate for inclusion and access. Lisa transformed PP&R through policies and systems that promoted professionalism, equity, access, and most of all reflected the understanding that recreation can change lives and build community in profound ways.

Among her many accomplishments were the creation of an ADA review committee to guide project design for the 1994 bond which is still active today; establishment of gender-specific swims in response to the Muslim community’s request; personally championing and supporting the legendary Summer Concerts program we have today; among many, many, other examples.
Lisa’s work at PP&R will forever be woven into the fabric of the services that we provide the community. She leaves behind her husband Mark, daughter Claire and son-in-law Andrew, along with many other beloved family members and a wealth of deep friendships in PP&R.

The year Lisa retired we planted a Kentucky Coffee tree in Laurelhurst Park in her honor. We had a gathering with Lisa, her husband, a few friends and several of us “parkies”. Lisa was thrilled we honored her with the tree and could not believe we chose one of her favorite parks. We all agreed great tree, great park, great person. It just fit.

This sad news is just another reminder that the work we do each day is on the shoulders of great women and men who also worked hard to ensure that Portland's Park & Recreation system was the best it could be for all Portlanders. We take from her passing the strength and confidence to carry on this great work. Rest in peace, Lisa.