Bertie Chamber Director Celebrates Retirement

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2004

WINDSOR – When Bill Hazelgrove agreed to fill in as the interim Director of the Chamber of Commerce in the heart of Windsor, he never intended on making a career out of it.

Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Bill and his wife moved to the area in 1993 after working for 17 years with orphaned boys.

&uot;It was really neat how the whole thing worked out,&uot; said Hazelgrove, who chuckled at the development of events.

&uot;When we moved here in 1993, my wife and I were operating our realty business,&uot; said Hazelgrove. &uot;About two years later, Bob Gilliam, along with some of the other board members, asked me if I would be willing to fill in as the Chamber Director and get things going while they looked for someone to take over the position full-time and now, it’s nine years later,&uot; he said with a smile.

During his nine-year service, Hazelgrove testified to some great accomplishments that occurred during his time at the chamber.

&uot;We’ve seen a growth in membership, as well as an increased participation in activities. The chamber has really become something focal to the community.&uot;

Hazelgrove attributed the success and development of the chamber to the cooperation of the town councils and the participation of community members in programs.

&uot;We started with a fishing tournament for the youth and increased our business and housing seminars in cooperation with Martin County Commissioners,&uot; he explained.

&uot;We established business after hours meetings and held them in various places throughout the county to bring area business operators together for the exchange of ideas in hopes that they would promote each other.

&uot;Eventually, with the help of the towns and the support of the Bertie County Commissioners, the chamber went from local to county-wide in its representation.&uot;

Steve Wishall, Vice President of the Bertie County Chamber of Commerce, shared his sentiments about Hazelgrove’s contribution to the community.

&uot;I have been here since 1991 and had the privilege of working with Bill and I can tell you that he has truly been an integral part of putting us where we are today.&uot;

Wishall continued, &uot;Since Bill has been working as Chamber Director our membership has grown and we have witnessed the active involvement of other towns in addition to Windsor. The support he’s provided has been over and beyond the call of duty and he will be truly missed.&uot;

Cynthia Waters, Assistant to the Director, echoed Wishall’s sentiments stating, &uot;I am going to miss him mighty bad, crying bad. He’s one of a kind and they’ll never find anyone to replace him. He’s simply a sweetheart. If everybody could have a boss like him, they’d never leave.&uot;

Jane Brown, who works with the chamber part-time, added, &uot;Bill and I have been friends for over 50 years and I guess it’s selfishness, but I don’t want to see him leave. I’m going to miss him like a beautiful sunset.&uot;

Although Hazelgrove will be giving up his duties at the chamber, he will be keeping busy.

&uot;Having worked at the home for boys in Virginia for 17 years, I got to know some of the kids really well, one of whom was Pat Kelly,&uot; noted Hazelgrove. &uot;Pat, who now lives in Jacksonville, Florida has started a Boys Home Foundation and has asked me to be the Director of the organization.&uot;

He continued, &uot;Pat has done really well for himself and is using his success to give other kids that are in his former situation a better chance at life.&uot;

Although Hazelgrove is excited about returning to his old love of helping orphaned children, he reflected on his time with the chamber with great fondness of heart.

&uot;I have really enjoyed working with the people both within the chamber and in the surrounding communities. It has been a wonderful experience,&uot; he said.

As the new director of Kelly’s foundation, Hazelgrove will be in charge of reorganizing and overseeing the operation of the boy’s home in hopes of expanding the homes to include girl’s homes as well.

&uot;Pat wants to make sure that kids in orphanages have the opportunity to go to college and wants to work toward providing them with scholarships to further their education,&uot; he said happily, &uot;I am looking forward to helping him with that.&uot;

Hazelgrove resides in the town of Windsor and is an Air Force and Army veteran. He is active in Rotary and formerly served as president.

He is also on the Mid-East Housing Commission and the Board of Interfaith Disaster Relief and continues to assist his wife in the operation of their realty company known as

Hazelgrove Realty.