Shortly before her retirement party, Martha Eaker dreamed that only four people showed up for the event. In fact, around 150 showed up to celebrate with the woman who has served as the president of the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce for 12 years and is now moving on to new things in life.
The evening of Tuesday, Dec. 4, Chamber members, friends, family and public officials gathered at the Ringgold Depot to congratulate Eaker.
“Martha Eaker has been a cornerstone of the Catoosa County Chamber for the past 12 years as president and CEO,” says incoming Chamber president and CEO Amy Jackson. “She will be greatly missed in this capacity. I admire her commitment to the Catoosa County business community. She has served as a business leader, confidante, counselor and friend to many. I appreciate the legacy she leaves and look forward to continuing it with the Chamber staff, members and volunteers.”
Eaker’s last day as head of the Chamber is Dec. 31.
The list of dignitaries that greeted Eaker as guests were serenaded by the Ben Friberg Trio playing jazz ran long: Sen. Jeff Mullis, Rep. Dewayne Hill and his wife Wyondia, former representative Tom Weldon, Catoosa County Commissioners Steven Henry (chair), Ray Johnson, Jim Cutler and Jeff Long, Catoosa County Manager Alicia Vaughn, Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk and Catoosa County Coroner Vanita Hullender. From the city of Ringgold, there were Mayor Pro Tem Terry Crawford and council members Sara Clark, Randall Franks, Larry Black and Kelly Bowman, as well as City Manager Dan Wright. From the city of Fort Oglethorpe, Mayor Earl Gray, Councilman Jim Childs and City Manager Jenny Simpkins attended.
A long list of business owners who are Chamber members also attended the Chamber-hosted party. Eaker’s husband was there, along with her grandson, her son and his wife, and out-of-town friends.
As with all good parties, there were surprises. Chamber members contributed to present Eaker with a five-night stay in a condo on St. Simons Island.
Eaker was also presented with a sterling silver bracelet from Tiffany & Co. The bracelet was engraved with letters matching the license plate on Eaker’s car — SALA V, a twist (suitable for a license plate) on the spelling of the French phrase c’est la vie (pronounced SAY LAH VEE), meaning “such is life” or “that’s how life goes.”
“Martha has served the Chamber with distinction,” says Chamber member and ambassador Terry Isaac, owner of NextHome Plus. “There are over 7,000 Chambers across the U.S. and just over 200 are accredited. We are one of those thanks to Martha’s efforts. Martha is looking forward to retirement and having more time for family and friends, but I know she will remain active in the community. I look forward to seeing where she pops up next.”
The event was funded by donations from Chamber members. It was catered by Belaire Catering of Chattanooga. Bar services were provided by Peppers Fresh Mexican Restaurant of Ringgold.