Jim Root is retiring this fall after 10 years as director of the city of Houston parks and recreation department.

After holding the position of parks and recreation department director for the City of Houston for about 10 years, Jim Root will be stepping down later this year.

Root recently announced his retirement in a letter to the city council and will work until October. He took the parks director spot in 2005 after retiring from a 30-year career with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Several improvements and upgrades took place during Root’s tenure as parks director, including the addition of Rutherford Park on the city’s west side and a set of soccer fields on the south side. Houston also began a youth basketball program during his second year that this year featured 31 teams.

Root said the credit for any success the program has experienced under his watch has to be shared.

“There have been a lot of people involved and lot of people who did a lot to help,” he said. “The school district has been extremely helpful in making gyms available. That’s been a great thing –– and I think they agree that it’s a good idea because it benefits the whole community.”

Root said he would like to be remembered for caring and trying.

“We tried to make the programs as good as possible, with the money, time, fields or courts that were available,” he said. “We have good programs, but you can always improve. Whoever takes my place will improve the programs – that’s part of moving ahead – but I think we’ve made some good strides.”

Root and his wife, Connie, live on Highway B east of Houston where they formerly ran an alpaca farm (Connie still runs a store there offering many alpaca fleece-based products). He has also spent years as a church pastor and is currently ministering at Community Crossroads Church in Raymondville.

“This move will allow me to focus more on church work,” Root said. “And I might become a bus driver for the schools, and I’m sure I’ll be doing more with Connie.”

Root said he has a few basic pieces of advice for his successor.

“Be patient and be flexible,” he said. “You deal with all kinds of people. When problems arise – and they will – think it through before you say too much.”

What was the best part of being point man for Houston’s parks and recreation department?

“Working with the kids,” Root said. “I enjoyed that more than anything.”

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