While a student in Downey schools, and during his college years and his years of military service, James Stecklein excelled in athletics and demonstrated effective leadership, both on and off the field. Although the Stecklein family had a successful business* in Downey that was central to the needs of its citizens, it was Mr. Stecklein’s passion for sports, interest in physical activities and fitness, combined with his aptitude for service, that channeled his efforts into a lifetime of dedication in strengthening the community through focusing upon the need for shared recreation.

Jim Stecklein

Stecklein had a vision for a park, not only to be a place of relaxation, exercise, and escape, but to provide a setting where people can join together in celebration of the arts through music. Stecklein’s conception and establishment of a park, designed with a concert venue as its central feature, has significantly influenced both the layouts and activities of today’s community parks.

Following his retirement from the Parks and Recreation program, Stecklein continues to work with the cities of Downey and Whittier. His keen interest in the importance of community and prioritizing recreation is evidenced by his on-going dedication to developing programs, which draw communities together. His efforts concentrate upon reaching out to youth, as well as all-the-way through the more-seasoned members of these communities, by his volunteerism with the local philanthropic historical societies.

Stecklein’s work in preserving and sharing the historical and cultural aspects of a community, help society hold onto the rich heritage of its unique history while he endeavors to help foster the neighborhoods of today.

* Steck’s Hardware & Furniture Store, from 1931 – 1960, located on Front Street aka Crawford Avenue aka Downey Avenue. The store location did not change; only the street names changed. The family sold the building in the 1970’s. Today, the old hardware store is the site of the Assistance League Thrift Store on Downey Avenue.