Eugene Young, longtime BREC Superintendent, passed away on July 20, 2020, at age 92 after a brief illness.
He is survived by his dear wife, Betty Brumfield Young, to whom he was married 64 years, his son Scott Young of Atlanta, GA, and a daughter, Dr. Sheryl Young, her husband Philip Zuspan, and two granddaughters, Sarah Zuspan and Jennifer Zuspan, of Leawood, Kansas. He was a member of Parkview Baptist Church and Arthur Lamm’s Sunday School Class. He was a member of American Legion Post 38, and numerous Recreation and Park organizations throughout the United States.
He was one of the longest serving members (18 Years) on the Board of Directors of the National Recreation and Park Association and was proud to be the first professional named to be a Life Trustee.
He was born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1927 to Ema Nitsche Young and Irving W. Young. In high school he worked on a highly organized recreational camp and as a substitute Physical Ed teacher. Upon graduation, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and spent his army career in Korea a the end of World War II. After his Army discharge, he attended Port Arthur Business College, and then graduated from Lamar College in Beaumont, Texas, and the University of Texas. He got his masters degree in Recreation and Park Administration from Indiana University. During these times he worked in the Austin Recreation Department and Bloomington, Indiana, Recreation Departments.
Several months before completing work on his Masters Degree, he was selected for the position of Assistant Superintendent at BREC and began working there on June 1, 1952 and was employed there until January 3, 2003. He worked for BREC over 50 years and was Superintendent over 42 years. In his years as Assistant Superintendent, BREC had many difficulties and lost a tax election. One sports writer wrote Mr. Young has a cast iron stomach for the criticism he took. In 1960 he became Superintendent and his first objective was to rebuild the organization and unite the community behind BREC. Working with Woody Dumas (then a
councilman) they built Greenwood Golf Course primarily with volunteers. In 1965 with the support of the Dumas administration, BREC passed a tax election which was the real beginning of BREC. During his tenure there were 8 Mayors and hundreds of BREC Commission Members who served as his bosses. Most all supported him which made for his long tenure. The longest serving Chairmen of the Commission who supported him greatly were L. M. McGraw, Billy McGehee and J. W. (Bill) Cocreham. BREC had numerous volunteer committees that advised them. Gene never wanted credit and gave the credit to God, employees, the Commission, committees and the public who voted for the tax elections. Without voter support, BREC would not have accomplished so much. God answered many prayers for BREC.
During Gene’s time, BREC was nationally recognized as one of the best departments in the country. Under his administration, BREC received the National Sports Foundation Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management on two occasions - 1975 and 1991, and on 11 other occasions, BREC was one of the four runners-up for the award. This award was and is the most prestigious awards a department can get in the field.
During his time BREC was the fastest growing department in the country. It was created in 1946 and started behind most other Recreation and Park Departments. BREC was integrated during this time and BREC created the logo of BREC. During his tenure BREC built the zoo, Cohn Arboretum, two football stadiums, velodrome, horse center, Magnolia Mound Plantation, City Park Art Gallery, Independence Park, a theater, Bluebonnet Swamp, Observatory and a botanical garden, three 18 hole golf courses, 6 tennis centers, 28 recreation centers and numerous play grounds, ball fields and picnic areas and other facilities. Over 10 million dollars in land was donated to BREC and the park system was increased by 160 parks. At it height, BREC added 8 to 10 parks a year. During the FDIC crisis in the 1980’s BREC bought park land at 10% of its value from the federal government. He matched one federal grant with another, costing local taxpayers nothing for land for parks. BREC lands are worth 10 times more than what they were acquired for.
BREC programs were increased throughout the parish with attendance going from 2 million to over 9 million. BREC had many types of programs throughout the parish and Gene fought to keep prices low so low income people could participate in programs and use the facilities.
Gene held many offices in Recreation and Park organizations and received many awards. He was most proud of being the first professional made a Life Trustee of the National Recreation and Park Association.
Mayor Tom Ed McHugh said Gene Young will be one of the real Legends of this parish by his leadership in development of this Recreation and Park System. It will be enjoyed by many citizens throughout the years. In a book recognizing outstanding professional administrators, a college said, “He was a beacon who inspired others by his strong sense of character, honesty, integrity, and his loyalty to his community.” Another person said, “The man lives, eats and breathes Recreation and Park programs and services. Gene Young worked tirelessly for BREC giving back over a year’s scheduled leave, plus many hours never recorded. The BREC Commission in appreciation of Gene’s contributions to BREC named the main office building the “Eugene A Young Administrative Office Building”. He loved his family and greatest disappointment was that he could not spend more time with them.
Visitation will be held at Resthaven Funeral Home from on Friday, July 24, 2020 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Visitation will continue Saturday, July 25, 2020 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm with a funeral service at 2:00 pm.
Memorial Donations may be made to the BREC foundation in honor of Eugene A. Young.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Eugene Allan Young, please visit our floral store.