05/12/05 — Mount Olive Chamber's Patti O'Donoghue plans to retire

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Mount Olive Chamber's Patti O'Donoghue plans to retire

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 12, 2005 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Patti O'Donoghue has announced she will retire as president of the Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce by the end of the year.

Mrs. O'Donoghue, who has served as the chamber president since 1993, said she plans to resume her writing career. She said she has already written a couple of novels, as yet unpublished, and has plans to start soon on another.

"I fully intend to write every day -- except when I'm traveling," she said. She said she and her husband, Greg, have two children who live in other states and they plan to take more time to visit them.

During her tenure, the Mount Olive chamber helped spearhead construction of the community-built Kids World Playground and a walking trail in historic Westbrook Park. The Friends of the Parks organization was formed. The North Carolina Pickle Festival, another project of the chamber, has grown to be one of the best-known festivals in the state. The chamber was also instrumental in the formation of the Small Town Main Street program to help revitalize downtown Mount Olive.

Mrs. O'Donoghue also serves as chairman of the Small Town group, and she said she hasn't decided about whether to remain in that post. The group is seeking new members, she said, and someone new might want the job.

A chamber search committee has been formed to find a replacement for Ms. O'Donoghue. Chamber Chairman Kim Bowers, Mike Rackley and town board member Paul Smalley will lead the search.

Chamber President Kim Bowers said Ms. O'Donoghue has given outstanding leadership to the chamber and to the Mount Olive community.

"So many things happen behind the scenes that you and I never hear about," Ms. Bowers said. "She'll go help with the Read to Succeed program and read to a child. She'll sponsor a child in another country. She's a well-respected Rotarian."

Ms. Bowers said she knows it was a difficult decision, but she respects Ms. O'Donoghue and her decision. She said she appreciates the advance notice, which will give the search committee time to find someone and then help in the transition.

"She's always been a friendly voice to all our downtown merchants in particular," Ms. Bowers said of Ms. O'Donoghue. "She has been a support to them as we move forward in downtown development. She's an example for all of us. Those are very large shoes to fill."