Parkite Karen Yocum retires after 30 years at the PC MARC

Park City officials and others at a meeting in December celebrated the retirement of Parkite Karen Yocum, middle, which was effective on January 2. Yocum, who moved to Park City in 1988, has worked for the municipal government since then and spent her City Hall career in recreation services. The Park City Council acknowledged the retirement with a resolution that says, in part, Yocum “has developed and managed recreation programs, leagues, camps and classes for the community...””
Park Record File Photo

It was Friday, Jan. 3, and Parkite Karen Yocum did the same thing she’d done nearly every Friday morning for the past 30 years. She woke up and went through her morning routine — but this morning was different.

Rather than make lunch to take with her to work, it dawned on the 63-year-old that she no longer had to do that. Rather than make the drive to the Park City Municipal Athletic and Recreation Center, Yocum could do as she pleases because after 30 years of work at the PC MARC as a Recreation Supervisor, the 63-year-old was retired.

“Thirty had always been the target time to retire, but when I first started, I had no idea that was in my view,” Yocum said. “But waking up that first morning, it was way more than a feeling of not having to do something. … It was more than that. It’s been different every day. Right now it feels like a vacation still, like I will go back, but then I can think about it for one second and know that I’m not.”

For Yocum, everything changed in her life when she moved to Park City in 1988. At the time, she married and relocated to the sleepy mountain town from New Jersey. A lifelong west coast person prior to moving to the east coast, Yocum jumped at the opportunity to move back West, where she grew up.

“When he (ex-husband) called and asked if I wanted to move west, I just said yes. … Even though I had no idea where, I just wanted to get west because the East Coast wasn’t for me,” Yocum said. “I was far from my family, who lived in California, so it was great being able to be closer. We arrived in Utah on June 30, 1988 and I never left. … And I don’t think I ever will.”

Almost one month to the day when Yocum landed in Park City, she began her career at the MARC.

It was July 31, 1988 and she was just hired at the PC MARC as a substitute teacher. Little did Yocum know that that day at the PC MARC would help shape the next 30 years of her life.

“I’ve always had a desire to teach kids how to play traditional sports, and moving to Park City and finding this opportunity was as close as I was going to get at the time.” Yocum said. “At the time, I couldn’t have known that I would be there for the past 30 years, but it easily turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, and most rewarding.”

Other the next 30 years, Yocum, who became a full-time Recreation Supervisor one year later, became one of the most influential people at the MARC, according to her current husband, David.

During that time period, Yocum had a hand in nearly every recreational program that was offered at the MARC, including the creation of new programs such as archery and fishing. When reflecting upon the past three decades, she points out to the archery and fishing programs as two of her most successful accomplishments.

“Getting archery and fishing started here meant more to me than most everything else I did from a programs standpoint,” Yocum said. “It means a lot because fishing and archery are two of my passions in my own life that I actually do. Being able to offer those programs to the kids here in town, it’s easily something I’m really proud of because I feel like a part of me will be still here now that I’m gone.”

Thirty years later, Yocum doesn’t recall everything she did or helped out with at the PC MARC. But she does remember the interview that got her foot in the door that set the stage for the rest of her life.

“The Rec department had just moved into the racquet club, and even though I didn’t want to work the front desk, it was the only job they had available,” Yocum said. “I thought that if I could just get an interview, I would be able to do something else with my background as a Phys-Ed major. I got the interview and as we were talking, the lady realized that I was over-qualified and it let me get my foot in the door.”

Prior to coming to Park City, Yocum grew up as a young girl breaking down the barriers of women and sport.

According to her husband, while Yocum was growing up in Northern California, Albany High School didn’t have a softball team so she wanted to play baseball with the boys. But rather than that happen, her high school created a softball team, allowing her the opportunity to play. Then while in college at San Francisco State, Yocum played softball and lacrosse for the Gators, while also being a part of the JV basketball team.

Now that she’s retired, Yocum is just focusing on her life one day at a time. As far as big goals, she wants to travel a bit more. She wants to visit many of the national parks in the area and spend a few weeks fishing in Montana, saying, “My motto is that I’m much more domesticated when I’m camping compared to when I’m home.”


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