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Members/Contact Us

Foundation Board

Executive Director: William Nelson

Chairman: Daryl E. Empen

Vice Chair: Frank Perez

Treasurer: Jan R. Garmong

Secretary: Rod Leatherman

Member: Fred Dasso

Member: John Gripp

Member: Evie White

Member: Sam Odeyemi

Member: Roxanne Delcourt

Member: Paul Hansen

Member: Amber Bane-Brunat

Email Contact for the Foundation:

William (Bill) Nelson –


Bill is married to Mary (Jacki) and they have a son Kyle (wife Mackenzie), a daughter Katherine (Kat) and a granddaughter Evie.


His interests include being a volunteer Conductor for Iowa Interstate trains (once or twice a year) and in his membership of The Antique Tractor Association and Run the train at their fairgrounds. He is also a board member for The Botanical Center and Niabi Zoo.


Bill’s career started in Zion Park District and grew to become Park and Recreation Director in Stillwater, Oklahoma, then becoming the Director for Rock Island Park and Recreation.


During his professional career he was fortunate to be involved in many notable projects such as: the upgrading of two golf courses, four pools, rebuilding a large lake, including constructing a six-mile bike/hike trail around that lake.  He served as Chairman of Southwest Region of the National Recreation and Park Association, was President of the American Park and Recreation Society. President of Oklahoma Park and Recreation Society, and Legislative Chairman of Oklahoma Park and Recreation Society for ten years.  Bill has been very active in many community events in Zion, Stillwater and Rock Island.


His philosophy for life: “Do not make a decision that you may have to apologize for later.”


Why is he part of the Foundation: “I started work on the Foundation when it became apparent that there was not enough tax support to provide the park and recreation services needed.”



What the board knows about Bill: Where there is a will there's a way and Bill will find it!

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Daryl Empen


Daryl and his wife Cynthia have two sons, Nils and Ian. 


He loves all sports and tries to stay active and says he plays badly at golf as his main recreation.  Daryl is Scoutmaster of Troop 258 in Rock Island and spends a great deal of time working with the scouts and camping.

He is active in Kiwanis Club of Rock Island and serves on several local Boards including GROWTH Corporation and Friendship Manor.


He and his wife are staunch preservationists.  They live in the Broadway Historic District in the landmarked Frank & Caroline Young House. They spent many hours restoring and preserving their historic home (their 2nd home in the Broadway neighborhood) having lived in this area for more than two decades.


Daryl graduated from Augustana College and began his career in the banking industry 30 years ago with Gas & Electric Credit Union.  In 1999 Daryl became President of Gas & Electric Credit Rock Island where he is continuing his career.


His philosophy for life: “Do what you can to improve your community and make this a better world in which to live.”


Why is he part of the Foundation:  “I believe strongly that Rock Island Parks and facilities are the best in the Quad Cities, and are critical to the quality of life in Rock Island.  I love my adopted hometown of Rock Island - I grew up in the small town of Forreston, IL- our beautiful parks are at the top. I want to ensure we are able to maintain these for future generations and that children of all ages have the opportunity to participate in our programs and use our facilities.”


What the board knows about Daryl:  You can count on him

Jan Garmong


Jan lives in Rock Island, IL.  Her son Robert Garmong PhD lives in China and works for Montessori Schools.  Jan’s grandson Roman Karl Garmong lives in China with Mom and Dad, so Facetime is an important tool for Jan.


Jan loves to golf, knit, read, garden and travel and is now retired after 32 years as a Medical Administrator.


Her philosophy for life: “I choose to make every day a good day!”


Why is she part of the Foundation: “I have passion for Rock Island and very much believe the parks are important to our quality of life.”


What the board knows about Jan:  She keeps our financial records straight and is incredibly thankful to all who participate in all aspects of the Foundation.

Fred C. Dasso


Fred and his wife Joe have four sons Kevin, Kurt, Kenneth and Kris and a daughter Liz.


Fred has an interest in hunting, fishing gardening and his work. Work is a pleasure for Fred so much so that his successful career as a real estate manager broker has spanned 51 years.


His philosophy for life: Accomplish a little each day - a big job is a lot of little ones let go.


Why is he part of the Foundation: “I have been involved with the Rock Island Parks since 1982 and the foundation is a new method to help recreation.


What the board knows about Fred:  He is very dedicated to his passion for work and very committed to the Foundation.

John Gripp


John was born and raised in Rock Island. He and his wife, Lynn, have been married for eighteen wonderful years. They have two sons Andrew and Ethan.  Their furry family member is their dog Miles.


John enjoys family, hiking, golfing, fishing, swimming, boating - basically anything outdoors!


John’s first job was a lifeguard at the old Rock Island YMCA (now RIFAC). After graduating from college, he returned to work at the RI Parks and Rec Department as the Aquatic Director. From there he grew as Superintendent of Recreation, then Assistant Director to now the Director of Parks and Recreation for Rock Island.


His philosophy for life: “Eat, Drink and Be Merry!”  - Dave Matthews.


Why is he part of the Foundation: “I am part of the Foundation because it is critical to a successful future for the Department.  There can be a lot of uncertainty as administrations come and go, so a strong Parks Foundation is key to remain stable. Plus, I really love Rock Island and all of the awesome parks and facilities we have!!”


“Parks and recreation is an important component to any city. This can often get overlooked during challenging financial times.  Parks attract people to live and visit a community. The parks, recreational programming and facilities provide necessary experiences that appeal to wide range of people. Parks and recreation opportunities stimulate our local economy, and there is data to support this.”


What the board knows about John:  He has a great sense of humor and loves to pull pranks!

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Frank Perez


Frank has been married to his wife Julie for more than 20 years.  They are parents to Matt Luebbers, Dominic, and Sam.  They are grandparents to Jack. Their furry family includes two German Shepherds named Max and Suni.


Frank enjoys the great outdoors especially leaning toward the warmer temperatures. He and his family boat and camp in Wisconsin on the Mississippi River.


He is currently employed with Bridge Investment CDC in Rock Island as a Loan Officer, and with Economic Growth Corporation as a Financial Education Coordinator, serving in these roles since June 2020.


Franks philosophy for life: “You only live once but if you do it right, once is all you need.”


Why is he part of the Foundation:  “When I was invited to be a member I knew that this would be a great opportunity to become involved in my own home town community.”


What the board knows about Frank:  Just ask, the answer is always YES!

Sam Odeyemi

Samuel Odeyemi is originally from Chicago Illinois but currently resides in Rock Island since 2018. He studied Urban and Regional Planning at The University of Iowa. During his tenure in Iowa City, he volunteered with various organizations such as Practical Farmers of Iowa, IRenew, Citizens Climate Lobby, and The Johnson County Food Policy Council.


Samuel currently works as a Real Estate agent for Keller Williams Greater Quad Cities. He joined the foundation because he wanted to continue to give back to his community no matter what place he calls home. He also volunteers for the Riverbend Foodbank and Habitat for Humanity organizations as well. He is also a member of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association.

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Roxanne Delcourt

Roxanne grew up in Milan and attended the Milan/Rock Island School District.   She has been married to her high school sweet heart, Paul Delcourt, for 47 years and has two married daughters, Leah Grabovac  and Megan Wyffels, and two grandsons and one grand baby due in July 2022.  


Roxanne loves the game of volleyball and was a big supporter of her two daughters who played at the collegiate level at Northwestern University and Washington University in St. Louis.  She loves traveling and gardening and is an active member of the Tri-City Garden Club, and volunteers at the Botanical Center to help maintain the ABC Garden there.  She is also a past member of the Rock Island Junior Woman’s Group. 


Roxanne is a retiree of John Deere with 40 years of service.   Her first 25 years were at John Deere Harvester and served in many different positions.  The last 15 years were at Deere & Company as a Human Resource Project Manager, traveling to Europe, South America and China to work on various projects. 


Her philosophy for life:  “If you don’t like the path you are on, then pave another path” – Dolly Parton.  


Why is she part of the foundation – “My family has used and enjoyed the many parks in Rock Island and feel strongly that we need to preserve and enhance them.” 

Amber Bane-Brunat 

Amber is from Milan and moved to Rock Island at 14. She has a daughter (Hailie 21), and two sons (Nick 16, Zander 9). Nick is a student at Rocky High School, and Zander attends RICMS.

Amber has run an in-home daycare for 10 years in Rock Island. Before that she worked in a variety of healthcare settings. She is currently enrolled in the Mortuary Science program at Carl Sandburg College and will graduate in 2023. In her spare time, she enjoys boxing, and training at the gym, and spends countless hours strolling Rock Island parks.

Amber’s philosophy for life: You will receive the gains in life equivalent to the effort placed. Never stop trying to better yourself!

Why a part of the foundation: I love children and believe they should have everything wonderful available to them. I am here to help make the parks the best they can be for our present and future generations.

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