Drowning Prevention Coalition of El Paso, Texas

Drowning Prevention Coalition of El Paso, Texas

Always swim with a friend. Never swim alone.

Drowning Prevention Coalition of El Paso, Texas Drowning Prevention Coalition of El Paso, Texas Drowning Prevention Coalition of El Paso, Texas

Gayle Vokes a Former El Paso Parks and Recreation Aquatics employee has passed.

February 1, 2024

From Wayne Thornton

Such sadness on this day with the passing of Gayle Presser Vokes.

She along with William W. Cowan created the famed “Gus and Goldie” the spoke fish of the city of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department out of Lincoln Center in 1980.

Gus and Goldie were famous on a national and international level and through the staff of the department taught thousands upon thousands of children to Learn to Swim and about water safety.

Mrs Vokes later became the Parks and Recreation Director and had such a vision to further the greatness of the Department before moving away.

She continued in her further areas of the country where she lived with her husband to golf, play pickleball and love life, her husband, her children and grandchildren.

Gayle was a good friend, a gifted and caring human being, an advocate for the less fortunate and a real marketing genius.

May God watch over your family in this difficult time and Rest in Peace Gayle Vokes, Rest in Peace my friend.

Here’s another post from Wayne. May I say another special memory about Gayle Vokes

In the last year of her life music sensation “Selena” came to El Paso in 1993 at Cohen Stadium in northeast El Paso to perform at the Opening Ceremonies as part of the Texas Games.

The Texas Games were the largest amateur sports competition in the state with a multitude of events for youth of all ages.

El Paso bid on the games and won due in large part to the then called Convention and Visitors Bureau and Bob Azar a local sports activist, Butch Campa then Parks and Recreation Sports Director and Gayle Vokes of Parks and Recreation who was the true catalyst to market the city and the Department to make it happen and she negotiated to get Selena here.

The event was hosted in city by the Parks and Recreation Department and had thousands of youth of all ages here in city with their parents and family.

Selena was the headliner for the Oprning Ceremonies at then almost brand new Cohen Stadium. I remember as me and Gayle and William Cowan the Aquatics Superintebdent all were working at Lincoln Center and Gayle had negotiated the contract with Selena along with the CVB and she asked me if I wanted to go to Cohen Stadium with her to watch Selena have a sound check before the show later that night.

I will be honest as I did not know of Selena then but had heard a little about her.

Gayle took me along and had me follow her around and I got to meet Selena’s dad and family and as I have watched the movie Selena over the years I can really relate having met all of the family because of Gayle.

The concert was unbelievable that night for opening ceremonies as staff of Texas games said they had never had a crowd, the enthusiasm or atmosphere of the Games as that night.

Me and my fellow comrade Joe rodriguez of Parks and Recreation remember that night fondly as now we are both retired.

Let me tell you Selena was unbelievable and although she was mostly known for her Spanish music she was getting ready to have an English singing album come out and she played music from that upcoming album.

Oh my goodness that was a magical night and what stands out to me was that the concert stage if you remember when concerts were at Cohen Stadium was at second base.

Well if you were sitting in the stands it was quite a ways from the fans.

The first thing Selena did when she took the stage and saw the immense crowd as the stadium was packed with standing room only was to say “All of you look so beautiful but you are so far away, I can’t see your faces and come on up to the stage and let’s have a good time.

Well you have to realize Cohen Stafium before sports turf had immaculate natural grass and the Cohen Stafium staff on duty moved so fast to make sure nobody left the stands as that pristine grass would have been no more with those thousands of kids out there

Gayle and city staff assured Selena all would be good with children and teens and parents staying in the stands and she was right.

Selena put on an unbelievable show and the children and parents and fans were rocking out like you have never seen to all her music as everybody knew she also had a great band.

When they let loose the white doves before the start of the opening ceremonies and then Selena took stage, it was an unbelievable night and one never forgotten.

Less than a year and half later after the concert Selena was tragically killed and when I told Mr. Cowan and Gayle she had been mudered they both just stopped in their tracks, and was such a horrible time.

Then in 2017 native El Pasoan Ginger Kerrick of NASA was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

I went for the ceremonies which was handled by the Governor and his wife and Ginger was inducted in the same class with Selena and Selena’s sister was there who was the drummer.

I just asked her if she remembers coming to El Paso and right away she said “Oh Yes, I remember, very much so” it was such a cool moment and I will post a picture of her at the ceremony with Ginger.

Gayle this is only one of the many great memories you gave myself and so many others and those Gus and Goldie TV commercials from back in the day were classics.

Rest in Peace and May God watch over your family in this difficult time.

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