Retiring Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Lewis Fincher really does know where the bodies are buried.
After 17 years with the city, Fincher is leaving his post January 6.
To say the city won’t feel the loss is an understatement, according to his colleagues.
Fincher handles so many of the departmental tasks that his co-workers struggled to summarize exactly what he does, which went beyond mowing ballfields and parks in the city’s more than 150 acres of green space.
One of Fincher’s many contributions is his knowledge of who is buried in the Marble Falls City Cemetery. Even after the city started offering an online location system, those researching their family tree often called the parks department for help locating their relatives. And Fincher found them.
Recreation Coordinator Monique Breaux said Fincher is committed to treating people the same, no matter who.
“Lewis isn’t going to treat anybody any differently,” she said. “He views you as an equal. He doesn’t prejudge or stereotype.”
Over the years, Fincher has tackled big projects and small tasks, never seeking credit.
Fincher began working for the city’s administration department on May 6, 2002. He spent six months searching for a job in the area and, on a whim, stopped by Marble Falls City Hall to inquire about openings. Within a week, he was hired.
Five years later, when former City Manager George Russell created the Parks and Recreation Department, Fincher asked if he could work in it, becoming the parks superintendent, a position he held ever since.
Fincher has helped craft the city’s parks into green gems of the Highland Lakes.
“I saw the parks and how beautiful they were,” he said as he reflected on asking to join the fledgling department.
Back then, the parks system consisted of the city pool and Lakeside Pavilion in what became Lakeside Park as well as Johnson Park, the Johnson Park ballfield, The Greens soccer fields, the Rotary baseball and softball complex, Childers Field, and the VFW softball field.
Since 2007, the city has added Falls Creek Park and Skatepark and Westside Park, which includes Ruff Dog Park, the city’s disc golf course, and Westside Community Hall, to its parks system. The city’s green space also includes bike-and-hike trails in Johnson and Westside parks and pocket parks in neighborhoods.
Along with longstanding festivals and events held in the parks, the department also offers its own free activities, including Spring Break programs, free outdoor movies, and holiday fun in December.
Fincher said he loved the challenge of maintaining the parks with the same high standard the city expects from its other departments.
He also enjoyed how every day in the park was different. During the holiday season, Fincher and the department were a big part of the city’s celebration, placing the large Christmas tree on the corner of Third and Main streets, assisting other entities with their projects such as the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce’s Walkway of Lights and Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s lighted Christmas displays on electrical poles in the city.
“It’s a moving target,” Fincher said of his duties. “The key is being very flexible.”
Fincher was a member of the department a decade ago when the recession hit. The department was still expected to perform at the same level even though it had fewer employees due to city cutbacks. Under Fincher’s guiding hand, they did.
Parks employee Roy Smith, who started working with Fincher in the administration department 17 years ago, said Fincher’s contributions go beyond his knowledge of the parks system and city government.
Honesty, fairness, and loyalty are three of Fincher’s traits, Smith said.
“He’s one of the best people you want to be around,” Smith said. “He’ll always be behind you when you’re in trouble. He’s always trying to look at things in a positive way. He tries to stay above anger. He always has a positive attitude about everything we do.”
When asked what he’ll miss most about Fincher, Smith said “everything” and received nods of agreement from each parks department employee during a surprise lunch in the superintendent’s honor January 3.
“You will never meet somebody who is (more) the epitome and the definition of a public servant,” Breaux said of Fincher. “He’s someone who is going to go above and beyond. He’s going to help you.”