By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Friday marked the end of an era in Yukon when Jim Crosby officially retired, ending a 55-year municipal government career.
Crosby served two stints as Yukon’s city manager – first from 1994 to 2011 and then from early 2016 before culminating this week as he celebrated his 80th birthday.
Friends, co-workers and city officials joined Crosby and his family for a retirement dinner Jan. 19 inside the Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore Drive.
“When you’ve had 55 years in the business, you look at what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished and what’s happened,” Crosby said. “When we first moved here, there were only two-lane roads everywhere you went on arterial streets.
“You don’t accomplish anything by yourself. It’s everybody working together.”
Crosby referred to the vast knowledge and experience of Yukon’s city department directors while crediting city employees and council members.
“I’ve appreciated every one of you all and all the work you’ve done,” he shared. “It’s been a great ride. My wife and I are looking forward to a great retirement. I thank each and every one of you very much.”
This week’s retirement dinner program featured a montage of photos spanning many of Crosby’s years in Yukon, and a video with memories shared by past and present city leaders – Earline Smaistrla, Genie Vinson, Jan Scott, Mike McEachern, John Alberts, Rick Cacini, and Shelli Selby.
Vinson, a former mayor and council member, credited Crosby for his talent at negotiation to help improve Yukon.
“Jim has the most amazing ability to get the most diverse group of people in the middle to agree on a positive outcome,” Vinson said.
Another previous mayor and council member, Alberts congratulated Crosby for his “amazing career” in Yukon.
Alberts expressed his appreciation for everything Crosby did for “our community” – from festivals and park improvements to retail development and major street projects.
“I hope you have an amazing retirement,” he said.
Selby, Yukon’s current mayor, read a proclamation from the Yukon City Council declaring Wednesday, Jan. 20 as “Jim Crosby Day” to thank him for his contributions.
“He has been highly dedicated and has given generously and compassionately of his time to the benefit of all residents of Yukon,” Selby shared. “His vision for Yukon has resulted in many critical developments that will continue to benefit the community.”
The proclamation lists some key programs and projects that Crosby helped bring to Yukon – such as INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital, Lowe’s, Target, and the future Frisco Road/I-40 interchange.
“His guidance has provided the city with numerous road and infrastructure improvements,” Selby added. “And outstanding facilities for the city, including the Jackie Cooper Gym, waste transfer station, animal control facility, police and fire stations, Dale Robertson Center, and the library.”
The council proclamation cited Crosby’s love for the parks, which has made Yukon a top family destination with “numerous first-class events”.
Among featured parks and special attractions that Crosby helped develop were the Freedom Trail Playground, Yukon Spirit League Field, Chisholm Trail Park, Taylor Park, Freedom Fest, and Christmas in the Park. Another highlight of Crosby’s retirement dinner was the presentation of a Distinguished Service Award from the City Managers Association of Oklahoma.
Besides serving nearly 22 years in Yukon, Crosby has been city manager in Piedmont and Norman and an executive at the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. He began his municipal government career in 1964.
The Yukon City Council extended its “heartiest congratulations” to Crosby, while expressing – on behalf of City of Yukon employees and citizens – a “most sincere thank-you” for his many years of dedicated service.
Council members shared words of praise for the leadership provided by Yukon’s retiring city manager.
“I am so thankful for the impact Jim has had on the City of Yukon,” Ward 3 Council Member Donna Yanda said. “What an honor it has been to serve alongside him.”
Vice Mayor Jeff Wootton wished Crosby an “amazing, amazing” retirement.
“I can’t say thanks enough for all that you’ve done for the city,” Wootton said.
Ward 4 Council Member Aric Gilliland recalls being a recreation aide at the Yukon Community Center during the mid-1990s when there was talk of Yukon getting its own hospital, starting a drive-through Christmas light display at city park and developing a “boot hill” park.
“As a longtime Yukon resident who loves this town more than I can say, it’s been exciting for me to see all the things that have about as a result of the leadership of Mr. Crosby,” Gilliland said.
A great leader like Crosby has a great team behind him, Ward 1 Council Member Rick Cacini noted.
“It’s the whole city working together,” Cacini said. “Team building – he did it.”
Selby thanked Crosby for teaching her so much about how to be a city council member and mayor.
“I will always be indebted to you,” she said.
Fighting back tears, Selby shared her best wishes to Crosby for a long and enjoyable retirement.
“You’ve been an inspiration to me,” she told him. “You’ve been my mentor. You have taught me so much.
“I appreciate all that you have done for our town. … We will miss you. Thank you for all you have given us.”