Larry White, man behind many Snoqualmie parks, retires after two decades of public service

White served the city since 1998 and was its second ever parks employee.

Snoqualmie Community Park, a 33-acre space that sits at the center of the community and has become a staple of the town, is, in many ways, like Larry White — a longtime city parks superintendent who helped make the park what it is today.

White, who was hired as the city’s second-ever parks employee in 1998, retired last month after spending decades shaping the Snoqualmie parks department and seemingly always finding a way to give back and bring people together.

Whether it was pushing for a skate park or all-inclusive playground, putting a grand piano downtown or coaching softball at Mount Si for 15 seasons, White spent decades at the center of it all, trying to “honor God and serve people with integrity.”

“To the best of my ability I tried to live up to that expectation everyday,” he said. “Life gets in the way sometimes, but that’s how I tried to live my life.”

White is a born-and-raised Snoqualmie resident who raised three kids — Emily, Matt and Abby — in the Valley, and whose parents still live in the same home he grew up in. For him, the change he saw on the Ridge during his career was a far cry from the forests and powerline trails that he and his friends used to hike and ride motorcycles through.

White spent the first 20 years of his career working at the now-abandoned Weyerhaeuser Mill and QFC, while also running a landscaping business on the side to pay for piano lessons for his daughters, before a maintenance position opened up at the newly formed Snoqualmie parks department.

When he was hired in 1998, the city had only two parks — Riverview and Sandy Cove — but was adding roughly five a summer for almost a decade, he said, as the Ridge build-out was beginning. By 2006, the city had 30 parks and today sports over 40.

“We were all so busy it was hard to find someone to take you under their arm and say ‘hey, this how this works and this is how you do it.’ It was kind of just trial and error,” White said. “Sometimes you get it right and sometimes they’d say ‘well, we’ll get it next time.’

“The good news was, we didn’t cost anyone any money,” he said.

With that much change, White had a huge hand in overseeing and shaping the outlook of the city’s parks — although he’ll be the last person to take credit for it. As the city was growing, the parks were on developers, with the parks department overseeing their completion, but by 2004, White was promoted to parks lead and promoted to parks superintendent four years later.

“He transformed his love of community into a career — and the City of Snoqualmie is the better for it,” Mayor Katherine Ross said at White’s retirement party. “Larry has watched our city grow, shaping it with his positivity and hard work.”

Among White’s proudest achievements are the introduction of a skate park at Community Park, a 7 to 8 year-long effort that he championed after a group of kids approached the city in 2006 and began raising money for the project.

The city wasn’t always on board with the project, White said, noting there was a perception bad kids would spend time there, but he kept the project on the city’s radar. Eventually, opinions changed, and the space opened in the fall of 2019, mostly funded without the expense of city taxpayers.

White’s other big contribution to the city came in 2012 when he was approached by Snoqualmie resident Chelsea Robinson, about a proposal for an all-inclusive park that would go beyond ADA compliance, and allow children of all abilities to play alongside each other.

That project, he said, also did not initially gain much traction at its $1 million price point. Determined, White turned his 60th birthday party at Sigillo Cellars into a fundraiser, called “Chelsea’s Dream” that raised $20,000 for the playground. Over the years, White secured a series of grants from state and county level which pushed the city over the barrier needed for the project.

“That will be one that I’ll be really proud of. We kept pushing and pushing,” he said. “It’s going to be something really special.”

White also contributed smaller projects to the city, like Christmas lights downtown, the grand piano that spent a few years in the gazebo at railroad park or the Snoqualmie dog park at Three Forks.

In retirement, although White has been able to spend more time camping and will finally get to go fly fishing in Alaska, he remains part of the Valley, serving on the board of his church in Fall City and will take over as president of the Empower Youth Network board next year.

His retirement has also given him more time to reflect on his long career and shaping his hometown.

“When you’re working you think this is just part of my job. I didn’t think about the legacy I was leaving behind,” he said. “But it’s been really cool to say I had a part in it.”