It is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of our dear community member and co-chair of Gary's Miller Spotlight's Transportation and Infrastructure Action Group, Mr. Ken Parr.
Ken was an inspiration to the entire community. He was recognized last month by the Miller Community Fund Committee as a “Miller All-star.” He was awarded this distinction for his tenacious devotion to blight busting, universal design and alternative transportation initiatives.
Service was part of Ken’s soul. He was a member of the Miller Garden Club and Gary’s Miller Spotlight’s Property Improvements Committee. In 2015, he helped us construct our community vision for 2025 and our five-year community plan. Ken championed code enforcement, transportation alternatives and urban renewal as he helped us carryout our plan implementation in 2016.
His commitment to keeping Lake Street spic and span coupled with his adherence to public safety led many folks to mistake him for being a city employee. He would just humbly explain to them in his quiet way that he was a volunteer. He diligently cleaned our main drag by hand at least once a day through rain and shine.
Ken was one of our most ardent promoters for biking activities and universally designed facilities in Gary, Indiana. He helped write a grant to fund 11 bike racks (they are being installed in January 2017). This summer he conducted monthly build-a-bike popup shops at our local farmer’s market. Teaching folks about bike maintenance and the benefits of cycling/ healthy-living were a great joy of his.
He also ran weekly bike tours from May-September and monthly tours from October-April. He lead our riders through all types of weather! He led our community to conduct forty-two bike tours between 2015-2016. These tours promoted community rapport, tourism, litter cleanups and healthy-living. They were attended by 9 regulars (plus an upwards of 30 additional people depending on the weather/ ride’s theme).
Most recently, Ken was helping us start our Take Bike Our Streets initiative. Take Bike Our Streets is a comprehensive program that involves community engagement, economic development and intragenerational environmental education. It has three phases: Planning, Educating, Implementing. Ken was promoting the build-a-bike portion and helping with our Adventures for Everyone (Adaptive Transportation Festival) for the summer of 2017.
In many ways Lakefront District Cycles will be Ken Parr’s legacy to our city. We hope to keep up our community rides in his honor. Our condolences go out to the Parr family. Ken's amazing dedication to Gary, Indiana will not be forgotten.