‘’Head coach’’ Tim Grant retires from Parks Department

August 04
08:45 2016

Photo by Todd Luck



Just because Tim Grant is retired as Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks director, doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing him around local parks.

“I’ve encouraged everyone else to get out and use the facilities, now I’m going to use them,” Grant told friends and co-workers at a well-attended retirement celebration held at City Hall on Friday, July 29.

Grant, a native of Martinsville, Virginia, attended Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) where he played basketball under Coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines. He graduated from WSSU with a physical education degree and got his master’s degree in sport management from U.S. Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama. He would go on to be a coach and athletic administrator at WSSU.

Grant said it was working as a life guard during the summer at city pools that made him change careers to public recreation. In 1995, he became a district supervisor with Recreation and Parks. After a few years as assistant and interim director of the Durham Parks and Recreation Department, he came back to Winston-Salem, were he became the interim parks and recreation director. In 2003, he became director of the department, where he would supervise 17 recreation centers and 76 parks.

Ben Piggott, supervisor at Carl Russell Sr. Recreation Center, likened what Grant did with Recreation and Parks to what Coach Gaines did with WSSU basketball.

“Tim was like a coach,” said Piggott.  “Tim was the head coach for all the different recreation centers. All we did was follow his lead.”

Piggott said Grant allowed each recreation center supervisor to use his or her individual creativity to develop his or her own programs. Piggott developed many successful and long-running programs at his recreation centers under Grant’s supervision, like Peace Toys for War Toys, the Happy Hill Reunion and Bingo for Turkeys.

There were many who had kind things to say about Grant during the retirement event.  Assistant City Manager Derwick Paige praised him for his calm demeanor, even in the most stressful situations, and his passion for his work. Paul Norby, director of city planning, said Grant did “miracles with stretched thin resources” during his tenure.

Recreation and Parks Commission Chair Jim Conrad called him a “giant of Winston-Salem.”

“He knows this city like no other person there is,” said Conrad.

Beth Hopkins, a retired Wake Forest law professor and tennis enthusiast, praised Grant’s work to restore tennis courts.

“Without Tim, our courts would look like cow pastures,” she said.

Bill Hayes, a retired WSSU athletics director and football coach who worked with him at WSSU, said Grant was always dedicated and professional.

There has been no shortage of accomplishments during Grant’s tenure in charge of local parks, including expanding greenways by four miles and expanding the park system by 241.9 acres. Recreation and Parks also expanded summer camps to 12 sites,  added 22 new playgrounds, built the city’s first outdoor skate park and implemented pet waste stations downtown and in parks. He’s also overseen the $30.5 million 2014 recreation bonds whose projects, which are currently in construction or  breaking ground soon, will transform the city’s parks.

However, Grant said he takes even more pride in running a department that listened and worked with the residents it serves.

“That’s the only legacy I’m concerned about,” said Grant “I hope that every citizen felt they were a part of our department.”

Grant spent well over an hour with a line of well wishers at the event that included co-workers, friends and residents he’s served. There were many hugs, laughs and even a few tears. Grant said he was humbled and moved by the experience.

“Everyone who came through here I have a special relationship with, and I hope in a small way I left something with them, because they certainly left something with me,” he said.

Grant’s retirement plans include golfing and spending more time with his family, including his wife, Vicki, and his two daughters, Aja and Niya.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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