CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – After 25 years here, and 42 overall in his career, the Champaign Park District executive director has announced he will retire next spring.
Joe DeLuce said he felt “fantastic” to be part of projects such as the restoration of the Virginia Theater and the construction of the Martens Center. He hopes to end the year with a national gold medal, which would give Champaign the title of best park district. They have won three times over the years and been runners-up multiple times.
He started his career in 1980 after graduating from college and returned to his hometown of Toronto, Ohio. He became one of the first parks and recreation directors the city ever had.
“There I was, graduating from college, moving back to my hometown, getting my first job as a director. We opened a brand new pool, built playgrounds, had a blast. And that really meant a lot to give back,” DeLuce said.
DeLuce said his career has been very rewarding and he has some advice for anyone who fills their shoes.
“The key is to maintain that reputation of being one of the best park districts in the nation and in the state of Illinois. Only [be] someone who really has a passion for parks and recreation because it’s a lot of work, it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, so you really have to go all out,” he said.
He said he looked forward to spending time with his family and continuing to enjoy the parks. The district has yet to choose a successor. They will find out if they won a gold medal in September.
DeLuce is set to officially retire on April 30, 2023.