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‘He was invaluable to us’: Prestonsburg parks worker dies after decades of service

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Bill Justice began working for Prestonsburg Parks and Recreation at the age of 18. His service, specifically to Archer Park, continued and shined until last week when Justice died at 52.

“He was a very important part of our organization. There wasn’t many thing Bill hadn’t experienced over the years. Not many things he couldn’t fix or rebuild,” said Parks and Recreation Director Richie Schoolcraft. “Those were some qualities that was so important to us that he brought to the table.”

Those who knew him say he was passionate about making sure Archer Park always looked its best for visitors, from the pool to the annual Christmas lights display. They said he worked with a zeal for his craft that is unlike most people.

“He had knowledge that somebody’s gonna have to relearn. Bill could run any piece of equipment over there. He could fix anything we had over there,” said Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton. “He always took that extra step to get things done.”

Justice died Wednesday after being sick for some time. But those who worked with him during his 34 years of service say he worked until he physically was unable- adding that they had to convince him into retirement, though he died before collecting his first retirement check.

“The sad part is to work all of the years he did and not get to enjoy his retirement,” said Schoolcraft.

But his years of work paid off in other ways, leaving behind a legacy of work and big shoes to fill.

“Bill did it with such respect and such a great demeanor that he became friends with everybody he worked with and everybody he came in contact with,” said Stapleton. “So, he’s gonna be greatly missed and it’s gonna be really hard to replace him. He was invaluable to us.”

His devotion to work was only second to the relationships he built.

“He was such a humble man also. He enjoyed life quite a bit,” said Schoolcraft. “He was kind of a country boy; kind of kept to himself. But he was a really nice fellow.”

The flags in Archer Park were lowered to half-staff Friday through Monday in his honor as his co-workers, friends, and loved ones remembered his life.

“Bill and I had a great friendship at work and also away from work,” said Schoolcraft. “They know how we all feel- his family does. Because we’re all family. We loved Bill greatly and they know we will definitely miss him. And we’re there for anything they may need.”

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