After 54 years of service with the National City Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director Edith Sherman Hughes is retiring.
"I never dreamed when I started to work for the National City Chamber of Commerce in May, 1950 as office secretary that 54 years later I would still be here," Hughes said in her farewell letter printed in the "Chamber News" publication.
Hughes moved to National City from San Marcos, where she grew up. She accepted the office secretary position with the National City Chamber and within the first eight years of employment, Hughes worked for four executive directors.
After the fourth director was fired, the chamber determined they could not afford to hire a replacement. Hughes agreed to serve as acting executive director -- with no salary increase -- and for the next 18 months, she helped increase the chamber's finances, purchase the former chamber building and worked to obtain donations to renovate and furnish it.
After a bit of discussion over whether or not a woman should carry the title of executive director, Hughes was awarded the position and held it until 1975 when she retired from the chamber to manage her husband's insurance agency.
Throughout that time, Hughes remained active with the Chamber of Commerce and was on the board of directors, including serving as president in 1984. The chamber saw three executive directors between 1975 and 1990, and experienced dire financial straits.
In January 1990, Hughes and her husband agreed to return -- she as executive director and he as membership director. Neither received a salary that year.
After three years of building the chamber membership up, Hughes retired again. But as before, she remained active with the chamber and community she grew to love. Once again, in 1998, Hughes was asked to return as executive director and help get the chamber back on track.
Over the years, Hughes has received numerous awards, including the Governor's Award for Exemplary Older Worker in 2000, and the first Humanitarian Award from State Assemblyman Juan Vargas.
"I feel so blessed to have had 54 years with the National City Chamber," she wrote in her farewell letter. "I grew to love National City and the people here and would never want to live anywhere else."
Hughes considers her greatest accomplishment was completing the planning and raising funds to build a new Chamber of Commerce building, which was completed in March of 2003.