Locals, officials honor Gainer

Community Center officially dedicated to longtime EPRC director

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brooke Binns Seth Gainer pays tribute to his father, Phil, during Saturday’s dedication.

ELKINS — An Elkins man who devoted decades of his life to Elkins Parks and Recreation was honored this weekend.

Family and friends of Phil Gainer, longtime director of EPRC, gathered outside of the Phil Gainer Community Center on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to honor their loved one and share stories of his generosity and dedication to the betterment of local parks.

Gainer’s wife Tammy said, “Phil loved life and he lived it to the fullest. There was never an idle moment,” Tammy said. “He believed that you only got one shot at this life and what you did with it was what would matter in the end. He felt if he could make a difference in just one person’s life, then he would have accomplished much.”

She went on to say the EPRC gave her husband the opportunity to touch the lives of people and make a difference.

Richard Harvey, chairman of EPRC, said, “As we gather here this morning, let us remember Phil as a dedicated public servant, a friend, a person passionate about his career, a person of family, a person of faith, a person of integrity and a person who made a profound and indelible impression on the quality of life in our community,” Harvey said.

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brooke Binns Phil Gainer’s family poses with a plaque that will be hung in Gainer’s honor at the community center in Elkins.

Harvey went on to say that Gainer’s vision was to have a facility to accommodate community meetings, celebrations, gatherings and events as well as providing indoor recreation opportunities for both youth and adults in the community.

“One of Phil’s career goals was to see the creation of a recreation and community center for the citizens of Elkins.” Harvey said. “I think he would be especially excited about all of the youth activities that are going on here — with the accompanying sounds of balls being kicked, batted, punted and dribbled inside of this building.”

“He was so proud of what had been started and would be excited to see the many things that this facility is being used for today,” (Tammy) Gainer said. “He prayed it would be a light in the community that would draw people of all ages,” Gainer said.

Elkins Mayor Van Broughton said, “For many years Phil worked hard developing properties into recreation areas for the city, but he always wanted a community center like this – how befitting it is that today, we give back to Phil and his many years of dedication to the city of Elkins and Elkins Parks and Recreation by renaming the Elkins Recreation and Event Center in his honor.”

Broughton added that he believes the future is bright for this community center as it has been widely successful in only the past year.

Gainer’s daughter, Taira Landavere, spoke of moments she spent with her father in parks around the Elkins community and the positive impact he was able to make on people in the area.

“He had big plans for the parks when he started 42 years ago and he successfully completed all of them,” Landavere said. “The parks probably mean more to this community than most other towns combined, and I do feel that my dad had a huge part in this because he took pride in what he did for a living. He made a difference not only in the city of Elkins but the people’s lives around him.”

All who attended Saturday’s ceremony were asked by Gainer’s family to share moments that they remember and cherish with Gainer in a memory box. Gainer’s wife said these moments will be compiled into a memory book for Gainer’s grandchildren.

“Over the past several months I’ve heard stories of how Phil touched so many lives,”(Tammy) Gainer said. “Each one of you here has a memory of him that comes to the forefront of your mind when you think about him — I would love to hear them.”

In November 2016, Gainer, 64, died of an apparent heart attack while deer hunting just weeks shy of his planned retirement from the EPRC. He spent the last 42 years serving on the commission.