Laurie Ion of TCSD and Cheryl Parks of TUSD both will hang up their hats at the end of June

TEMPLETON — At the end of June, Templeton will see the retirement of two dedicated employees who have served Templeton for 57 years collectively.

Cheryl Parks and Laurie Ion have been behind the scenes keeping Templeton rolling and soaring over the past 25+ years. 

Parks has worked for the Templeton Unified School District (TUSD) for 25 years, and Ion has worked for Templeton Community Services District (TCSD) for 32. Both have served in their same, albeit evolving, roles within their respective organizations, wearing all necessary hats to keep things operating without issue.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

In Templeton’s small communitythe two have worked together many times, coming through for each other in a pinch. Ion recounts a time when a band for Concerts in the Park showed up without music stands, and she reached out to Cheryl Parks to see about borrowing some from the school for the evening, just in time for the event.

Parks, not a native to the area, moved to the Central Coast with her husband from Southern California in 1981, looking for the serenity that comes with the pace of life in the area. At the time, her son was one, and she valued being able to have her son in the same school district in which she worked. She began working with the San Luis Coastal School District before switching to Templeton, working as the Administrative Coordinator.

Ion, born and raised on the Central Coast, began working for PG&E at Diablo Canyon while attending Cal Poly. Due to a massive downsize at the plant, she found herself looking for a new job opportunity. She bought a townhouse in Templeton, which prompted her to find employment nearby. Her mother sent her a job listing requiring speaking and writing skills she developed while completing her degree in journalism from Cal Poly. That job was none other than her position at TCSD as the Assistant to the General Manager and Board Secretary, where she’s been ever since. 

When asked what they would miss most about their work, both answered “the people.” They spoke to the tight-knit community of Templeton and how coworkers are more like family. That so many live and work in the area, coming together to support those in need around them. “I don’t think people realize how close-knit this community is; you walk down the street and see people, your friends,” Parks states.

They also gained an appreciation of Government through their jobs. The processes of agendas, meeting minutes, and Brown Act regulations are a tricky field to navigate. They’ve learned throughout their careers the reasons some things take time and help those who attend public meetings to understand these nuances.

“I’m very appreciative of the community, community members, and the staff,” Ion explained how even though the department has defined roles, everyone pitches in to get the job done, doing whatever it takes. 

Parks adds, “All the hats that the administration and school district employees wear… when we hire staff from larger school districts, they don’t realize all the roles we perform in order to maintain things.”

After a lifetime serving the community, both are excited to have the opportunity to spend more time enjoying it, utilizing the many amenities they have both worked so hard to make available for all.

Parks says that while she hasn’t had much time to think about what she wants to do with her soon-to-be-found free time, she’s most looking forward to dusting off her bike and cycling with her husband, one of their favorite hobbies in the area. She’s also looking forward to traveling again, especially internationally. She and her husband had a trip planned that they had to cancel due to COVID and travel restrictions over the past year and a half. She’s also excited to just spend time gardening and tending to her yard. 

Ion says that she plans to stay involved with the Templeton Recreation Foundation, with plans to volunteer at the Chamber of Commerce, where her skills can be put to use. She is looking forward to taking a wine class, learning more about one of the things that makes our area so great. She has already begun looking for opportunities to volunteer at wine tasting bars. She also hopes to spend more time on hobbies such as refinishing furniture and Club Pilates.

In a time where fewer and fewer people retire from a life-long career, it is humbling to see the dedication these women have given to their community. The knowledge that they will be greatly missed is softened by the fact that they will still be familiar faces, enjoying the community they’ve served so diligently.  

Take time to thank these ladies for their years of service to the community before their last day at the end of June, and be sure to stop by and see Ion, who will be serving as the Templeton 4th of July Parade Grand Marshal, Sunday, Jul. 4, starting at 10:30 am!