It’s going to be tough to fill the work boots of Equipment Operator Walt Miller who played major role in the evolution of Point Defiance during his 45-year career with Metro Parks. The lifelong Tacoma resident described his work with the District as if he never left the backyard of his own home.
During the fall of 1974, Walt became a part-time maintenance worker at Point Defiance Park during his senior year at Lincoln High School. After graduating, he transitioned into a full-time position as a level I maintenance worker. He progressed to level III status before settling in his current position as an equipment operator, where he has served us for over 25 years.
One of Walt’s favorite parts of his job was climbing into the John Deere 310SJ Loader, turning the key and hearing the engine start up. Walt says it’s as a “real good machine” and that he’ll miss operating the loaders the most as he retires.
“I liked using it,” he said.“ It felt comfortable and it made the crew’s job easier.”
Walt has a strong feeling of nostalgia for the 760-acre Point Defiance Park. From the eagles, coyotes and red foxes to the walks on the rocky shore scoping the gorgeous waterfront, Walt loves what makes Point Defiance so unique. He says it’s something he’s always appreciated – especially being so close to home.
Walt contributed to many projects at Point Defiance, such as working on the mainlines and helping create and maintain the park’s highly used trails. Surprisingly, he will miss his Friday 3 a.m. shifts blowing the parking lots with the John Deere Utility Tractor. (And, no for those who are wondering, that is not a typo, nor sarcasm. He appreciated the tranquility of the park during the early morning hours and knowing he was making it even more inviting for the throngs of visitors who would follow on the heels of his work.)
With all the contributions Walt has made to Metro Parks a, he says the park district has given him a lot back in return. He says that in addition to supporting him as he raised a family, it supplied a lot of other interests in life, such as gardening and operating equipment. Walt and his wife Janice have been happily married over 40 years and have one son.
In his free time, Walt is an active member of Skyline Presbyterian Church, wearing many hats as an elder, deacon, and serving on the nominating committee. He enjoys collecting Tacoma postcards which remind him of the city’s past – especially its parks and architecture. Walt loves traveling down to on the Oregon Coast… to do as little as possible and simply relax. But, just as he did here at Metro Parks Tacoma, Walt continues to like getting his hands dirty doing mechanical work and he will now focus those talents on his 1959 Chevy truck which has been his prize possession for 35 years.
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