He made a difference: David Withers retires from City of Brownwood after 34 years

Steve Nash / Brownwood Bulletin
David Withers' colleagues with the City of Brownwood stand near the "Fountain of Service" as Withers (foreground) looks at the fountain Tuesday at Coggin Park
David Withers (foreground) listens as City Finance Director Walter Middleton reads from a replica of a plaque that will be installed at the Fountain of Service.
A display at the Coggin Park pavilion gives highlights of David Withers' 34-year career with the City of Brownwood.
David Withers displays a plaque presented to him last week by his department.

A display at the Coggin Park pavilion Tuesday told just some of David Withers' 34-year story with the City of Brownwood.

For much of that time, the 61-year-old Withers has been the city’s parks and recreation director and facilities manager. He was honored with a retirement reception Tuesday afternoon at the park.

Highlights of Withers’ career, as listed on the display, include: worked for five city managers and two mayors, supervised seven departments and managed 92 employees.

The display listed his greatest accomplishments as a parks and recreation professional and the numerous projects he was involved in that “made a difference to the citizens of Brownwood.”

That's a big part, indeed, of Withers’ story, but much more of his story resonated from friends and colleagues. They spoke with affection of Withers’ contributions — not only as a boss but as a friend to them and the city.

The reception included the presentation of a replica of a plaque that will be installed at a “Fountain of Service” at the park. Wither’s department built the fountain's base. The fountain is “dedicated to the loyal employees of the City of Brownwood who have spent their careers serving the citizens. You have made Brownwood a better place.”

City Finance Director Walter Middleton read a statement on behalf of City Manager Emily Crawford, who was unable to attend.

Crawford said in the statement she "sees Withers' shy smile, hears the jangling of his keys and feels the warmth of his big heart.”

Middleton said he was a member of the Brownwood City Council when the council voted to make Withers the parks and recreation director. That was the best vote he made as a council member, Middleton said.

“There are lots of nice things you could say about David,” Middleton said. “He was such a credit to the city. He was always prepared.”

Angie Dees, director of the Brownwood Senior Citizens Center, described Withers as “not only a boss but a great friend.” She said Withers would fight “tooth and nail for his employees.”

When Withers had to be out of work due to illness, there was no need to call in an interim director because Withers had the facilities department running so well, Dees said.

Colleagues also described Withers’ ability to solve issues, often with little expense involved.

Withers was joined at the Fountain of Service by his wife, Peggy, and his mother-in-law, Shirley McNeil.

Withers gave tribute to “a bunch of great employees and great people.” He joked that “putting up with (Middleton)" was one of his great accomplishments.

Speaking earlier at the City Council meeting, Mayor Stephen Haynes said he hopes Withers will look back at his time with the city and know what a difference he made.

Withers’ department presented him with the gift of a miter saw. Last week, Withers’ department presented him with a plaque honoring the man “for all of the achievements, good days, bad days and many, many friendships,” and thanking him for “34 years of excellence.”