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'Thanks for the Memory'

Chamber wishes president a fond farewell

Chamber wishes president a fond farewell

April 29, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Hugs and handshakes abounded Wednesday evening as a who's who of Washington County business people bade Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce President Fred K. Teeter Jr. farewell at a laid-back semi-formal reception.

After much mingling with more than 100 business people at the Fountain Head Country Club, Teeter was brought to the stage to sit in a throne-style chair so former chamber presidents and chairpersons could take their parting shots at him while "Thanks for the Memory" played in the background.

"When we hired him, he had more hair than he has now and it was a different color than it is now, in some places," said Walter Bell, who was president when Teeter was hired by the chamber 14 years ago as executive vice president. He was named president in 1999.

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Teeter, whose last day as chamber president is Friday, is leaving to work for a different boss - his wife.

Teeter will work for his wife's business, JMTeeter & Associates, which markets wellness products for Melaleuca, said Janice Teeter.

"We're looking forward to some lifestyle changes," Janice Teeter said.

No longer will her husband be working 18-hour days or 80-hour weeks with lots of late-night meetings, she said.

Teeter, 50, of Uniontown, Md., in Carroll County, said he won't miss getting up at 4:30 a.m. to get to 7 a.m. meetings, but he will miss the people.

"This is a people business," said Teeter, whose name tag read "man of the hour."

"What turns me on is working with volunteers to get things done," Teeter said. Chamber leaders "exploded the envelope" the first few years he worked there as they came up with things they wanted to get accomplished, he said.

The chamber's membership hasn't grown as much during his tenure as have the services and programs the chamber offers, Teeter said.

Among the projects started or improved were the chamber's award-winning Web site, bigger and more active legislative forums, better organized mixers, the Eggs & Issues breakfast forums and more networking opportunities, Teeter said.

Chamber officials tried a lot of things during his tenure, some of which were "deep sixed," Teeter said.

One of those items - which Teeter later jokingly said he was reviving as a farewell treat to the chamber - was an air show the chamber held in 1997.

The chamber lost $25,000 in the venture after it rained on the first day of the two-day event, Teeter said. It was a great show, but the chamber spent too much on the acts, he said.

Later, former chamber president and Citicorp spokesman Phil Kelly referred to the air show.

Kelly presented Teeter with a gift bag that included a watch and a piece of Lucite with a picture of a B-2 bomber taped to one side and a picture of four Elvises on the other side, Kelly told the crowd. The chamber organizes the annual Elvis Lives event.

As chamber leader, Teeter set a record for handing out the most Lucite and plaques in Washington County as awards to people in the business community, joked former chamber chairman and Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust President James Piern.

Former chamber president Gary Wright, with Allstate Insurance, told the crowd how Teeter used to script speeches for the chamber presidents and chairpersons and was always worried they might divert from the script.

To return the favor, Wright presented Teeter with a script for a farewell speech. Teeter jokingly acted as if he was going to read it, but ended up pulling his own written speech out of his jacket pocket.

"This really has been a special privilege ... it's been an honor to serve you," Teeter said.

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