BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – He moved to Fort Madison with his family when he was just 13 years old and went to work falling in the love with the community.
Now, after 26 years working for the people, most recently as the business management analyst for the city, John Luna has stepped aside.
Luna met with well-wishers, former employees, friends, and family Thursday night at the Riverview Park Pavilion.
He found it difficult to get to the plate of food sitting in front of him as people rotated in for hugs and handshakes… to reminisce and joke and poke a man whose impact can be seen around Fort Madison parks and recreation areas.
“We get lots of comments about how wonderful our parks are here in Fort Madison,” Luna said. “I take that as a great compliment because we, as a city, have worked hard on the parks without the budgets some of the other communities have.”
Luna and his wife Kathy own Wonder Years Learning Center in Fort Madison and he said his wife is about four years from retirement so his plans still focus on the community.
“My initial goal, when I decided to leave in February, which turned into January because I got a month IPERS credit, I was going to take three months to relax and figure out what I want to do. By the end of April, I’ll be relaxed enough to kind of put a plan together. I’ve talked with a couple of different organizations about options that I’d like to pursue. I like working with people. I love the interaction,” he said.
He said the projects are volunteer in nature.
Luna served nine years with the Fort Madison YMCA before joining city staff.
“That’s what I really excelled in and when I came over to the city they slid me into the parks and recreation department. I loved that because I got to take care of all these beautiful parks in the city.”
Luna worked for eight different city managers or administrators and about five different mayors over the past quarter century.
When Luna was at the Y, he had been on the city council for one and a half years and had to resign from that position.
He said it’s a good idea that the YMCA is now running the city pools.
“It’ll be a good thing. (YMCA Executive Director) Ryan (Wilson) has been in recreation for a quite a while. He was even coming through my programs when I was at the YMCA so that’s neat to see,” Luna said. “But it’s going to be a challenge and a learning process for the community as to the way the two systems operate.”
The support of the city and its residents has made the work easy, Luna said.
“I want to thank the community for all their help and support because without them I couldn’t have done the things I did with the community and the YMCA. This community’s been real supportive of me and the things I’ve tried to implement and tried to incorporate into the community.”