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Longtime chamber worker Linda Minner to retire
In 1968, Linda Minner took a job at the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce while still in high school. She answered phones, typed letters and kept the books of the Downtown Merchants Association.
Thirty-three years later, Minner has seen her role grow at the chamber to include working with volunteers, getting involved with committees, helping with special projects and coordinating events.
But health concerns that Minner wishes to keep private have forced her to retire from a job that she says has meant so much to her.
"It's been my whole life," she said. "This is the only job I've ever had, the only company I've ever worked for. I've devoted all of my energies to improve the chamber each year."
Minner's last day is Tuesday and a party was held in her honor last week at the chamber offices.
John Mehner, president and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, said that Minner has been a workhorse.
"She did so much long before I got here," Mehner said. "All through the '70s, when it was just a two-person office, her and the executive director, she's done a lot of great work for the chamber for a long time."
When Minner finished high school, she was offered a full-time position. She went to college while working for three years. In 1972, the office manager quit and Minner took that job, a position she held until 1986.
Her job changed as she began working with committees and coordinating some events and projects. It became official when she was given the title special projects director.
She helped develop and implement corporate partnership programs, which helped raise money for the chamber and kept the business group from continually asking its membership for help.
She was key in getting the BBQ Fest going as well as golf tournaments and dinners. The ideas came from committees, but Minner was always willing to help brainstorm, getting them organized and going.
"Working with the volunteers was my favorite thing to do," she said. "I loved seeing a project come to completion."
She also worked with projects that didn't make money, like educational and leadership development programs. Those were equally important, she said.
Minner said the chamber has grown and changed since the late 1960s.
"We had no computers, we just had typewriters," she said. "There was no e-mail, no voice mail."
In 1968, there were 350 members and today there are more than 1,200.
"It's just more active now than it ever was," she said.
335-6611, extension 137