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City honors late longtime recreation director

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The city of Santa Fe has renamed Alto Park after longtime city parks and recreation director Ron Shirley, who died after a battle with cancer in March 2018.

According to a news release, the park will now be known as Ron Shirley Alto Park. In addition, Mayor Alan Webber proclaimed “Ron Shirley Day” in Santa Fe on June 3, the same day as a park dedication ceremony attended by Shirley’s family and friends.

Shirley started working for the parks department as a laborer and went on to become the department’s director for 28 years, retiring in 2007.

Ron Shirley

“Ron loved his job. He was vested in the community and vested in his parks,” Margo Shirley, Ron’s widow, told the Journal last year.

Margo had been pushing to have a parked named after her husband since his death.

“To be in that position for so long and retire is pretty monumental,” Margo Shirley said. “I want to leave that legacy for my children and grandchildren.”

More than 20 Santa Fe parks have been named after people, including former mayor Frank Ortiz, Vietnam War veteran John Griego and Spanish Governor of New Mexico Don Diego DeVargas.

The city’s criteria for naming a park after a person requires that they be deceased, have made a significant contribution to the community, lived in Santa Fe County or have a strong connection to northern New Mexico.

Ron Shirley was a St. Michael’s High School graduate who went on to attend New Mexico State University. Prior to going to work for the city, Shirley worked at La Familia Medical Center, which, fittingly, has a location adjacent to the park.

After he retired, Shirley continued to coach youth sports teams and, for a while, served as interim athletic director at Santa Fe High School. He also served on the board of the Santa Fe Independent Youth League and the Santa Maria del la Paz Building committee at his church.