Park People Timeline– Early Years

November 22, 1977

Park People Incorporated, founded by Joy Teschner. She was inspired by her love for parks and a belief that there was a need for citizen input and oversight for the Milwaukee County Parks. She drew part of her plan from The Park People of Denver, and paid them $5.00 for sharing their name. Though still a member of the appointed citizen Milwaukee County Park Commission, Joy realized that the commission was likely to be disbanded, so she set about forming The Park People, as an organization to support and advocate for the Parks. Joy also had the vision for Park Friends Groups, however, many broke away to form their own groups. Joy was given the honor of Director Emeritus.


March 29, 1978

Federal designation as a 501(C)(3) organization received. Dave Kinnamon, a partner with Quarles & Brady, writes bylaws and articles of incorporation and serves on the board for 30 years. The bylaws state, the Corporation’s purpose is to preserve, support, and enhance Milwaukee County Parks while building an effective volunteer organization

Roger L. Boerner serves as first President.


June 22, 1978

First annual meeting was held at Dretzka Park, from this point forward annual meetings rotate throughout Milwaukee County Parks. Officers are elected at the June annual meeting. Presidents serve for 2 years and stay on “chairman of the Board” for another 2 years thereafter.



Lincoln Park office opened, Executive Director Nancy Cavanaugh hired at $3.50 per hour funded by the Milwaukee Foundation

John T. Byrnes serves as President.



Milwaukee County Park Commission was disbanded by the County Board.



The Park Market was introduced including benches and tree tags.

Robert M. Galecke serves as President.



Bylaws changed to include Partner Organizations (i.e. Friends Groups); model by-laws were formatted for Friends Groups.

First Friends Group was recognized when Friends of Boerner Botanical Gardens was accepted as a Park People Partner, followed by Friends of the Domes in November.

Karen Case, soon-to-be president of the Friends of Boerner, and Nancy Cavanaugh worked out the model by-laws and partner agreement, under which Park People were to control the money with part of the Friends dues going to the Park People. One Park People director was to serve on the Friends of Boerner Board ex officio (Floyd Johnson).

Vell Moder takes over as Executive Director. – hired as assistant to Nancy Cavanaugh.

Park People raise the money to restore ROSS LODGE, a facility for overnight stays by groups of teenagers.

Regular annual park clean-ups each spring — regular Newsletter by Wade Mosby, retired journalist.

Quentin V. Zillig serves as President.



Agreement with AFSCME 48, AFL-CIO signed, permitting volunteer activity in parks.

When Friends of Boerner receive a grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, they become financially independent. The Park People handle only the insurance for all the Friends groups.



Park People begin long association and restoration of TRIMBORN FARM. First by holding children’s art exhibition, then by annual ‘Harvest of Arts and Crafts’ in September. This grew into a very successful, juried exhibition that raised money for the work at Trimborn, as well as for the Park People coffers. Joan Trimborn Bluhm was the guiding light behind this effort.

Wade Mosby serves as President.



Diane Buck committed to park history and works with Matthew Groshek, board member, on a brochure, Milwaukee County Parks: A Short History.

 League of Women Voters under the guidance of John Abelt, study 19 major park systems seeking information on land use, programming, governance and budgeting to help TPP learn from other parks.



Robert Mikula serves as President, Bob was a former Parks Department Director for Milwaukee County, and prior thereto served several roles in Parks including County Landscape Architect.


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*Corrections or additions to the timeline can be submitted to The Park People at [email protected]