Butch Truitt's 39 years in parks and recreation started with a summer job.
During high school, the 16-year-old was a jack-of-all-trades, building playgrounds, pavilions and more in his hometown of Oil City, Venango County.
Eventually, he worked his way up to public works director, serving double duty as head of the parks and streets programs.
Now, he's set to start April 22 as the parks and recreation director of South Fayette, where he'll turn his full attention to his roots.
"I've pretty much done it all, and I'm looking forward to getting back into just parks," he said. "This is a chance for me to get back to work I originally loved doing."
Miles H. Truitt Jr. -- widely known by his nickname, "Butch" -- has spent his entire life and career in Oil City but plans to move to South Fayette with his wife, Rita.
Mr. Truitt, 60, said his strengths include facility maintenance, problem solving and community partnerships.
"I'm a very hands-on person and a people person," he said.
Township manager Ryan Eggleston -- Oil City manager prior to joining South Fayette last year -- has worked with Mr. Truitt.
"When you look at his energy, abilities, attitude, teamwork skills and his work ethic, they're all going to help tremendously to grow our parks and recreation department in the coming years," Mr. Eggleston said.
Following several rounds of interviews, South Fayette officials chose Mr. Truitt from about 60 nationwide applicants to replace Jerry Males, who resigned in November after more than 11 years in the post.
Township commissioners voted last week to offer Mr. Truitt the job. Annual salary is $60,300.
Commissioner Lisa Malosh said that while Mr. Eggleston gave positive reports on Mr. Truitt, the five-member parks board conducted a separate, intensive selection process and found Mr. Truitt to be the strongest, most passionate candidate for the growing community.
"He really stood out as not just having the experience but having the interpersonal skills and the ability to have vision," Ms. Malosh said.
After graduating high school, Mr. Truitt left behind his summer job and worked in a steel mill for three years. But in 1974 he returned to the Oil City parks and recreation department, where he held various positions for a decade.
In 1984, he became foreman of the parks department but soon witnessed a local economic decline and loss of industry that shrunk the city's parks program and staff.
Without an in-house coordinator of recreational activities, Mr. Truitt got creative and worked with outside groups to provide programming while maintaining city control over fields and facilities.
"I formed all these different partnerships with all these people to keep things going," Mr. Truitt said.
His resume lists more than 30 community organizations he's been involved with, including sports leagues, neighborhood associations, charitable societies, government groups and community clubs.
"I know all those people hands-on," he said, noting, "I'm a positive person. I'm willing to try anything. I'm not someone who's going to tell you no."
In 1990, Mr. Truitt became Oil City's foreman of public services, a position that consolidated responsibilities related to roads, the city garage and parks and recreation.
In 1998, his title changed to public works director, a job that involves managing dozens of employees as well as overseeing and maintaining seven ball fields, six playgrounds, two parks, a boat marina, a swimming pool, a dek hockey rink, a skate park and other amenities.
Last year, he spent about six months as interim manager of Oil City.
Over the years, he has coached football, wrestling, baseball and basketball.
"I've just always been involved in sports," Mr. Truitt said, reflecting on his roots. "I just enjoy recreation, and that's what I wanted to do the rest of my life."
Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.