PEKIN AREA chamber of commerce

Our History

Since 1893

In October of 1893, a group of like-minded businessmen incorporated the Citizen's Improvement Association of Pekin. The organization was formed for the purpose of "advancing the business interest and promoting the commercial growth of the City of Pekin." The five directors that were selected to control and manage the corporation for the first year were: Everett W. Wilson, George Herget, Jesse B. Cooper, Henry Block, and Joseph V. Graff.

A second business association, the Pekin Retail Merchants Association, was organized in 1900 with Ferd Pauley as President and Fred Helm as Secretary. The purpose of this organization was to promote better business practices and systems.

In 1910 the Citizen's Improvement Association of Pekin changed its name to the Commercial Club of Pekin. In 1911 they merged with the Pekin Merchants Association, but retained their name as the Commercial Club of Pekin.

In 1916 the name of the organization was changed to the Association of Commerce of Pekin, Illinois. Phil H. Sipfle was the managing secretary, and Maude M. Smith was hired as the office secretary on May 27, 1916. Smith retired in 1961, after 45 years of service to the organization. However, she continued to attend the annual meetings into the 1980s. Her attendance was noteworthy, as she had never missed an annual meeting since she was hired by the organization in 1916.

In 1962 the name of the organization was changed to the Chamber of Commerce of Pekin, Illinois. In 1978 the name of the organization was changed to the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Trivia

The longest serving Executive Director is our current Executive Director, William T. Fleming. Bill was hired June 11th, 2001 and is still serving the Chamber. The Executive Director with the shortest tenure was A.W. Tartar, who was hired on February 15, 1952. He resigned 17 months later.

The first female to serve on the board of directors was Florence Westphal, who was on the board from 1957-1959. The first female to serve as president of the organization was Carol Shields, in 1991. She later became the first female Executive Director in 1996.

Presidents of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce

1917 - 1917 William. E. Schurman
1917 - 1919 James M. Rahn
1919 - 1921 Franklin L. Velde
1921 - 1922 William J. Reardon
1922 - 1923 James M. Rahn
1923 - 1924 Elmore G. Heisel
1924 - 1925 Franklin L. Velde
1925 - 1926 James J. Crosby
1926 - 1928 Willis M. Beardsley
1928 - 1929 Louis A. Birkenbusch
1929 - 1931 Arthur E. Severe
1931 - 1932 Paul H. Massey
1932 - 1933 Henry B. Koch
1933 - 1935 George B. Stolley
1935 - 1937 Irving M. Weimer
1937 - 1938 E.M. Marshall
1939 - 1939 Charles V. Frings
1939 - 1940 Robert E. Bryan
1940 - 1941 Albert LaFrenz
1941 - 1943 A.B. Foster
1943 - 1944 George D. Holiman
1944 - 1945 Leslie L. Jones
1945 - 1946 Arthur L. Grob
1946 - 1947 E. Oscar Winkel
1947 - 1948 Eugene P. Maurer
1948 - 1949 Karl E. Stoll / E.E. Lawson
1949 - 1950 Dr. D.W. Turner
1950 - 1951 Harlow R. Summers
1951 - 1953 John C. Kriegsman
1953 - 1954 Morton Bowman
1954 - 1955 A.V. Martens
1955 - 1956 Orville Deppert
1956 - 1957 Thomas H. Harris
1957 - 1958 R.H. "Bud" More
1958 - 1960 Robert Culshaw
1960 - 1962 E.M. Kumpf
1962 - 1963 A.R. Sutton
1963 - 1966 John E. Monge
1966 - 1968 W. Dean McNaughton
1968 - 1970 Charles E. Gagnier
1970 - 1972 Melvin V. Burling
1972 - 1975 Ralph T. Brower
1975 - 1977 Charles F. Wolfe
1977 - 1979 A. Dean Willock
1979 - 1980 Richard Hayes
1980 - 1981 James Johnston
1981 - 1982 Paul Koch
1982 - 1983 Merrill Parsons
1983 - 1984 Larry Wichman
1984 - 1985 Louis Steger
1985 - 1986 Ronald Claussen
1986 - 1987 R. David Tebben
1987 - 1988 Charles H. "Chic" Renner
1988 - 1989 James E. Warning
1989 - 1990 Patrick E. Oberle
1990 - 1991 Dr. Virgil Petty
1991 - 1992 E. Baird Woolsey
1992 - 1993 Carol A. Shields
1993 - 1994 Bill Schade
1994 - 1995 Andrew Sparks
1995 - 1996 A. Richard Kriegsman
1996 - 1997 Robert Moore
1997 - 1998 William T. Fleming
1998 - 1999 Thomas Tesar
1999 - 2000 Perry Soldwedel
2000 - 2001 Vince Udry
2001 - 2002 Patrick Taphorn
2002 - 2003 Cindy Galyean
2003 - 2004 Ron Miller
2004 - 2005 D. Neal "Buster" Hanley II
2005 - 2006 Margaret "Marggie" Seelye
2006 - 2007 Glen Rittenhouse
2007 - 2008 Peggy Collins
2008 - 2009 Dr. Timm Schwartz
2009 - 2010 Mike Vonderheide
2010 - 2011 Althea Geiser
2011 - 2012 Charles "Skip" Schermerhorn
2012 - 2013 Drew Leman
2013 - 2014 Tom Hornstein
2014 - 2015 Aindrea Balagna

Secretaries / Executive Directors of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce

The "paid staff" position was originally called "secretary" or "managing secretary" and was eventually changed to Executive Director.

1916 -1920 Phil H. Sipfle
1920 -1923 James H. Braucht
1923 -1925 Leonard D'Ooge
1925 -1929 Ormond F. Lyman
1929 -1938 John S. Patterson
1938 -1941 Francis O. Neer
1941 -1945 Ross E. Anderson
1945 -1952 Britt B. Blair
1952 -1953 A.W. Tarter
1953 -1959 R.J. Lindley
1959 -1962 Paul E. Burkhardt
1962 -1970 R.H. "Bud" More
1970 -1984 Leland S. "Lee" Williams
1985 -1987 Ralph T. Brower
1987 -1989 Kevin L. Rosner
1989 -1993 Willard E. Birkmeier
1993 -1996 Charles H. "Chic" Renner
1996 -2001 Carol A. Shields
2001 - present William T. Fleming

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