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County Hall Corner: Goodbye to a Wonderful Warden

Retirement is often a bittersweet event. In one sense, it is joyous for an individual who has labored for decades in worthwhile service to an organization to be rewarded, but it is also sad for the colleagues to know that this individual will no longer be around. That emotion was in full swing at the regular County Commissioners Meeting on May 3rd, as the meeting room was packed with members of the Lycoming County Prison staff who came to say ‘goodbye’ to the retiring warden, Kevin DeParlos.

Deputy Warden Brad Shoemaker, soon to become the new warden, read a moving address at the meeting in tribute to his boss. He noted that Kevin DeParlos grew up in South Williamsport and graduated from South Side. He went on to study at Penn State, and after graduation in 1981, he came back to work for Lycoming County as one of the Resident Supervisors at the former Alternatives to Prison. Less than a year later, in 1982, he moved up to the position of Domestic Relations Officer. Then, in 1984, DeParlos moved on to become an Adult Probation Officer. He held that position until 1991 when he was promoted to Deputy Chief. Then, in 1996, his career came full circle when he returned to the prison system to take the position of Deputy Warden. Finally, in 2005 Kevin was promoted to the position of Warden.

Perhaps it was that full range of experience that gave Kevin DeParlos the wisdom and insights that were needed in the rapidly changing world of penal incarceration. Deputy Warden Shoemaker noted that it was DeParlos’ forward thinking and dedication to the prison system that led to many advances and improvements. It was during his tenure as warden that the prison system achieved 100% compliance inspections by the Department of Corrections. Under his leadership, the Lycoming County Prison has won awards for practices and been a standard of excellence throughout the Commonwealth.

Beyond his ‘day job’ as warden, DeParlos showed true professionalism in his field by sharing his knowledge and talents by serving on many committees and boards both in Lycoming County and around the state during his career.

Commissioner Jack McKernan was not in attendance at the meeting, but both Commissioners Mussare and Mirabito had moving words to share with the departing warden. Tony Mussare remarked that when they interviewed candidates for DeParlos’ position, they asked what they felt would need to be changed once the warden stepped down. This is generally a question that interviewees for a major position use to offer their keen leadership potential, but not in this case. The candidates offered they could tweak something here and there, but substantially — nothing needed to be changed. Rick Mirabito commented how amazing it was to see the man in action. No matter what the situation, he always was extremely calm, keeping an even demeanor, despite the situation. Both commissioners also highly praised Kevin DeParlos’ integrity and honesty.

When it came time for the man of honor to speak, his words were short, humble, and simple. He commented that he had spent 36 1/2 years, most of his working life, committed to the county system. He thanked the commissioners and the prison board, and all those who were in the room that were his support team. He closed by saying how thankful he was for the career that he was able to have.

As he was heading out the door, I was able to talk with him briefly about his future plans. DeParlos smiled and said that he was not quite sure. Obviously, he wanted to take a break from the grind but quickly noted that he was not interested in going out to pasture or the golf links. He still has passions and is considering teaching to share his insights with others. It was that dedication to service that made Kevin DeParlos the best kind of warden, and one whose example set a path for others to follow.

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