March 4, 2023

On February 16, J. Thomas Lovell, Jr. was inducted into the Missouri Recreation and Parks Hall of Fame. The induction took place at the annual awards banquet of the Missouri Park and Recreation Association in Lake Ozark, Missouri.

Photo by Anthem Photography

Tom Lovell began his career as the first ever Superintendent of Parks and Recreation in Russellville, Alabama. In three short years, Lovell grew the department from a single employee with a $12,000 budget to a five full-time staff, 40 plus seasonal employees, and a budget of $148,000. While in Russellville, Lovell developed numerous facilities, secured grant funding for land acquisition, and ensured public access to over 300 acres of lakes, all while establishing intramural programs for teens and a senior citizen program for the community.

After a short stint in Bristol, Tennessee, Lovell moved to Lee’s Summit, Missouri and applied the skills learned in previous positions, much to the benefit of his new community. During his 33 years at the helm of Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation, he oversaw the growth to include his original budget of $327,000 to $11.2 million upon his retirement. The department ballooned from 11 full-time staff to 42 full-time and over 400 seasonal and part-time staff members, 250 to 1,200 acres of park land, 12 to 30 parks, three community centers, two sports complexes, two dog parks, a skatepark, an amphitheater, an aquatic park, one outdoor ice arena, and the installation of 77+ miles of trails.

Lovell presented countless sessions for the National Recreation and Park Association, the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, various state park and recreation associations, and consulted with a number of parks and recreation departments. Here in Missouri, Lovell served in a variety of volunteer leadership rolls, presented conference sessions, was a Leadership Development Institute Regent and Chair, and facilitated the re-creation of the MPRA/KRPA Executive Forum. Nationally, Lovell was a founding member of the Supervisor Management School, regent of Revenue Management School, and regent of Director’s School.

Tom Lovell has indeed made a profound difference to our profession, our state, our community, and to countless families and individuals. He is the 36th member of the Missouri Recreation and Parks Hall of Fame. Tom Lovell has been retired since 2017 and is currently living in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.