Making a difference: For retiree, parks board gives him voice in city

HARLINGEN — Kenneth Pruneau was a reluctant recruit to the advisory board of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“Guy at church one day, he says, ‘You’re not on a board!’ and I said ‘What are you talking about?’

“He said, ‘Let me put you on the board over there at the museum.’ I said, ‘Man, I don’t know anything about museum boards!’”

But Pruneau, now 86, was an avid user of the Pendleton Park pool and a regular attendee at the parks advisory board meetings.

So parks it was.

Back then, Pruneau recalls, his take on the meetings was they were discussing practically everything except parks.

“So they asked me one day over there, would you like to have lunch with us?” he said.

“I said no, I don’t think so. We’ve got business to conduct! We can do the business first, then you can eat,” Pruneau said.

Pruneau has made Harlingen his retirement home after putting in his years working for Boeing, the defense and aerospace company located in St. Louis.

He said anybody who thinks he or she can’t pitch in for their city when it comes to volunteering needs to make the time.

“It’s only an hour,” he said. “At the last meeting I think we had, they had a list there of all the vacancies. It was an unbelievable amount.”

Currently the open number of vacancies on advisory boards for the City of Harlingen is about 46.

“I said my gosh, you people live here, you sit around complaining with your neighbors and all that, with your friends and stuff like that, when you could get on a board and voice your opinion there,” Pruneau said.

“They may not listen,” he conceded, “but you still can get your two cents in.”