90 Years with the Illinois Association of Park Districts
Let's begin the Celebration!
The year 1928 was monumental. Charles Lindbergh was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor for his first trans-Atlantic flight, and Alexander Flemming discovered Penicillin. It is fitting that 1928 was also the year that the Olympic Torch was lit for the very first time, for this was the same year an entrepreneurial gentleman named A.D. McLarty changed the history of Illinois parks, recreation and conservation by igniting something as well.
McLarty, Secretary of the Illinois Municipal League, used a letter writing campaign to spark interest in creating a statewide association for park officials. His idea spread like wildfire, and the Illinois Association of Park Districts was established.
Ninety years later, we pay homage to the hundreds of thousands of board members, professionals, staff and volunteers who have carried the torch that was kindled nine decades ago for Illinois parks, recreation and conservation. IAPD was created with the goal to make citizen board members and professional staff of Illinois park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies the very best in the nation. When we look around the state at those who have dedicated years of their lives to the mission of IAPD and to making Illinois a better place, we know that not only did we achieve this goal, but we exceeded it far beyond our founders' wildest dreams!
A.D. McLarty, Organizer, IAPD, 1928
"I hope Illinois park commissioners will guard well their heritage. You are elected by and responsible to the citizens of your community."
— Marjorie M. Dickinson
Marjorie M. Dickinson served the Illinois Association of Park Districts in an array of capacities from 1928 until 1966 including secretary, assistant director, executive director and executive director emeritus.
Born in Griggsville, Illinois, Marjorie earned a B.S. degree in accounting and business administration from the University of Illinois. It is there she became associated with A.D. McLarty, who introduced her to the activities of the Illinois Municipal League, Illinois Association of School Boards and Illinois Association of Park Districts. Marjorie spent several evenings a week answering IAPD mail, writing membership letters, creating announcements for meetings, and drafting copy for the Illinois Park Board Bulletin. In 1953, she became the full-time IAPD executive director and editor of Illinois Parks.
Her greatest thrill was when the legislature passed the Park Codification Bill in 1951, incorporating into one code the laws affecting the organization and administration of park districts – laws that had been scattered throughout the statutes. Illinois was the only state to have passed such legislation.
From 1928 to 1930, the association functioned, on a part-time basis, as a division of the Illinois Municipal League. Mr. McLarty, organizer of the IAPD, served as executive of the Illinois Municipal League, the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Association of School Boards. The IAPD shared headquarters during that time with the other two organizations. The headquarters of all three organizations were moved to Springfield in November 1933, from the basement of the Urbana Public Library to the basement of the Illinois Casualty Building, 5th and Capitol. From July 1, 1943, following Mr. McLarty's resignation, to October 1st, 1944, the Association headquartered in the office of the Springfield Park District, courtesy of Dr. C.W. Milligan, then president of the Springfield Board. Since then headquarters have included the Hagler Building, 4th and Capitol; the Ferguson Building, 522 East Monroe; the First National Bank Building; 300 East Monroe Street; 217 East Monroe and now, 211 East Monroe Street.
Lawrence Hoff served as legal consultant and legislative representative of the IAPD for nearly 10 years and was appointed acting executive director of the association in 1943, when A.D. McLarty resigned for active war duty.
He was a trustee of the Springfield Pleasure Driveway and Park District for 16 years and served as secretary and member of the Illinois Park Codification Commission (IPCC). He steadily worked to encourage appointing park district attorneys to serve on the IPCC, and his legal/legislative guidance and vision helped to create the bill eventually signed as the Park Law Codification Bill in 1951 by Governor Adlai Stevenson.
Hoff made an outstanding and long-to-be-remembered contribution to the park and recreation movement in Illinois.