Bob and Judy Frost

Judy and Bob Frost have been tireless in helping to develop social and community services to meet Scottsdale's population growth.

Perhaps no couple has had more influence shaping Scottsdale’s “sweet spaces” than Bob and Judy Frost.

Scottsdale had only a handful of parks in 1971 when Bob Frost arrived from California to serve as recreation superintendent.

 That changed as the city scrambled to stay in front of a population boom and increasing demands for social and community services.

“We had only six small parks and one community center,” Frost recalled. “That was it.”

Frost was involved in the creation of the Vista del Camino Center and the Civic Center Senior Center – projects that greatly expanded the services available to citizens.

Under his leadership, the city pioneered a “shared campus” approach: The city would maintain the buildings, but nonprofit groups would be enlisted to provide most core services.

It’s a model Scottsdale still uses, and one Frost employed to create other signature projects.

When Scottsdale Airport expanded in the 1970s, a small equestrian park was demolished at the end of the runway. The city received funding from the feds for a replacement. Frost eyed land in a brush-strewn basin built to protect the Central Arizona Project Canal, another federal project.

Horseman’s Park was born, a unique partnership with the Bureau of Land Management that would grow to become WestWorld. A similar arrangement created the nearby Tournament Players Club golf complex.

Frost gained experience working with diverse organizations, identifying common needs and developing projects that delivered mutual benefits. It wasn’t always easy. He had to earn trust, form alliances and help participants find a shared vision.

He brought to the task a stubbornness forged from experience.

Frost dropped out of college in the early 1960s and served three years in the Marine Corps. He began as a rifleman, spent time as a colonel’s driver and ended up a chaplain’s assistant. Along the way, he developed a tenacious will to succeed.

“Before the Marines I was probably a 'C' student,” he said. “The Marines taught me discipline and determination. When I went back to college, I was a straight 'A' student.”

Frost’s skill for building coalitions got noticed. His boss asked him to take over operation of the city-owned Center for the Arts. Frost saw the need for a better system and began a process that eventually led to creation of the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts organization. Working with community leaders, Frost also wrote the Public Art Ordinance which set the foundation for today’s landmark collection.

“What did I know about the arts?” Frost asked. “At the time, absolutely nothing. But we put together a good team and it worked.”

Other opportunities followed. Frost led an effort that acquired the first two sections of city land in what would become the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. He used the “shared campus” model to develop Scottsdale Ranch Park and the Paiute Neighborhood Center.

“It was fun and rewarding. Something new every day,” Frost said. “The city gave me a career; it wasn’t just a job.”

That same spirit extended to his personal life. In the 1980s, he met his wife, Judy, who was working as a city accountant. Judy grew up in California and relocated to Scottsdale because her grandparents came here for spring training.

Judy and Bob hit it off – both shared a love of running, hiking and tennis. They married in 1990 and continued to flourish professionally, rising to senior leadership positions within the city.

Bob retired in 1997 as the city’s community services general manager. Judy retired as Scottsdale’s budget director in 2004. Retirement, however, did not mean the Frosts were going to sit on the sidelines.

Each possessed a skill set highly sought by nonprofits. Judy was an expert in finances; Bob had a knack for leading teams and building strategic plans. Not surprisingly, they became a power couple in the Scottsdale charitable and volunteer communities. 

Judy has served on the Scottsdale bond oversight and review committees, plus several HOA boards; Bob has served on the Arizona Parks Board, the Governor’s Commission on the Arizona Environment as well as the city’s McDowell Sonoran and Parks and Recreation commissions.

They’ve both held board positions with the Scottsdale Boys and Girls Clubs, dating back to the 1990s.

Judy prefers not to talk about her volunteer activities, but Bob said they both share a feeling of debt to Scottsdale for their careers and success.

“The city did so much for me, I feel an obligation to give back,” said Bob, who at age 77 remains wiry and athletic. “It’s a wonderful community and I’m honored to continue to be a part of it.”

Bob’s activities have expanded to horseback riding and involvement in several equestrian organizations. In turn, that’s sparked an interest in cowboy poetry.

He’s penned three books of poetry and in 2011 was named Scottsdale Poet Laureate by Mayor Jim Lane.

“I’m always playing around with words, jotting my thoughts down,” said Frost. “That’s just what I enjoy. Poetry provides a sense of self expression and creativity.”

Frost pens poems to celebrate the Western lifestyle, Scottsdale milestones and other topics. He gives readings and leads poetry walks in the preserve.

His poems enlighten and inspire, but he and Judy’s deeds also tell a story. Both helped shape a community known for its quality of life and both continue to serve the place they’ve come to love.