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reaching Out award winner forest park forever With the support of members, donors and volunteers, the nonprofit cares for and restores one of the greatest urban parks in the world. meet Fred Ruhrwien south County | volunteer by karyn meyer Q| What made you interested in this particular cause? a| I’ve always been enamored with the park. I love it. I was born in St. Louis, met my wife at Washington University, and we got married at Graham Chapel. I told her before the wedding that if she wanted to live any place other than St. Louis, not to marry me! When I retired about 22 years ago, I didn’t want to be a couch potato, so I started volunteering with the civic center and as soon as they opened the visitor center in Forest Park, I knew it’s where I needed to be. The park does just about everything for the city. We can really brag about it. After all the renovations, it’s just beautiful. It’s probably the best urban park in the United States. And I love to tell visitors that all the places are free. They can’t believe it. Q| What kind of volunteer work are you involved with? a| I work at the visitor center almost every Monday, handing out brochures and maps and welcoming visitors. I used to do walking tours, but now I just do bus tours once or twice a month for groups that come through, usually from senior communities. We ride around and I tell them different things about the park, especially fun facts about all the statues. I’ve read up on the park’s history. I always talk about how beautiful the park is and how much you can do there. A family of four could do things all day and not spend a dime: the zoo, The Muny, the museums. I can always tell if I led a successful tour by how many people are asleep at the end! If it’s more than half the group, that’s not good! Q| If you could do anything for the organization, what would it be? a| Funding is always a big one, but my main issue would be to fix the traffic patterns on the weekends, especially around the zoo. It can get gridlocked. There are future plans to connect parking across the highway to the park. I would love to get that done for them. In the Words of Forest Park Forever: “There is photo: colin miller of str auss peyton no greater champion of the St. Louis region than ‘Big Fred.’ His passion and love of St. Louis and Forest Park are unmatched and exhibited in his friendly, unique and informative customer service. Fred has been a strong presence and key component in every facet of visitor services for more than 10 years … He has helped tens of thousands of visitors to the park and donated more than 2,300 hours of service to Forest Park Forever and the St. Louis CVC. He imparts a cheerful, lasting and positive impression upon those who visit our great park, city and region.” is a proud sponsor of the T&S Reaching Out awards « First meet the Forest Park Forever board Photo courtesy of Forest Park Forever row: Larry Thomas, Donald Suggs, Cynthia Brinkley, executive director Lesley Hoffarth, Frances Levine, Barbara Taylor, Benjamin Akande. Second Row: James Snowden Jr., Paul Higgins, James Mann, Kathleen Osborn, Sisi Beltran, Carol Klein, Lyda Krewson, Beverly Propst, Erika Schenk, Eric Miller (Zoo V.P.), Susan Veidt. Third row: Cozy Marks, Dave Rabe, Jim Tobin, Sue McCollum, Gary Krosch, Paul Shaughnessy, Anne O’Connell Albrecht, Peter Sortino. Fourth row: Jacob Herschend, Steve Finerty, Tom Carnahan, Robert Ciesla, Thomas Collins, Greg Hayes, Ron Scharf, Brian Hogan. Thirty-five additional board members are not pictured. Know a standout volunteer? Nominate them to be featured at townandstyle.com/reachingoutawards or email tellus@townandstyle.com for more information. 12 | TOWN & style | august 12, 2015