FORT MILL — Members of the Fort Mill community turned out to honor a dedicated lifelong resident they say made her town a better place.
Trudie Heemsoth, who has served as the director of the Fort Mill area of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce for 11 years, celebrated her retirement Thursday surrounded by her coworkers, friends and family.
“Trudie’s entire life is serving the Fort Mill Community,” said Patrick White, chairman of the Fort Mill School Board.
White worked with Heemsoth when she was on the school board a few years ago. She was the town’s first female elected official.
“She’s someone that always thinks of others before herself,” White said.
Heemsoth, a Fort Mill High graduate who became the area chamber director in 2003, said she has enjoyed her time with the organization.
“I’ve met a lot of great professionals and learned a lot about my community,” she said. “I felt like I made a difference.”
Before joining the Chamber, Heemsoth worked in telecommunications for 25 years. She worked at Mestech and the Belk Corp. in Charlotte in the training and data base development areas.
The Chamber position gave Heemsoth an opportunity to work close to home.
“I was ready to work in my own community and do things here,” she said.
Heemsoth said she is proud of what she has accomplished as director. One her proudest moments came when she added a volunteer program at the Chamber soon after she joined. The volunteers help answer residents’ and visitors’ questions and put together relocation packages for people moving into the area. The Chamber also acts as a visitor’s center for Fort Mill, Heemsoth said.
“This is the face of the community,” she said.
Heemsoth also helped lead the move of the Chamber’s downtown Fort Mill office from the caboose at the corner of lower Main and North White streets, to its location on Tom Hall Street. She developed a close relationship with the Fort Mill School District and helped expand the Education and Volunteer Awards Program, which honors high school seniors, teachers and staff.
“It’s an accomplished rewards program,” she said. “I’m very proud.”
Heemsoth also helped expand the annual State of the Community breakfast eight years ago when she included the mayors of Fort Mill and Tega Cay.
She has seen Fort Mill grow in the 11 years she’s spent in the position, with more families pouring in each year, she said.
When Heemsoth served on the Fort Mill School Board from 1980 to1994, there were three schools in the area. Now there are 13 with plans to add two new schools next year.
Heemsoth said she has enjoyed meeting the community members and working with the members of the Chamber.
“It’s an honor to serve them in that capacity,” she says.
Chip Heemsoth said his wife of 48 years dedicated hours to making the Fort Mill community what it is today.
“She’s been the face and voice of the commerce for 11 years,” he said. “She’s put a tremendous amount of time and effort into moving Fort Mill and the Chamber forward. She put her heart and sole into it.”
Former Fort Mill School Board Trustee Chantay Bouler said Heemsoth has always taken her job seriously.
“Trudie’s nurturing, loving and kind, but she’s a go-getter,” she said. “I admire Trudie for the person she is.”
Fort Mill Mayor Dan Funderburk said the town has benefited from Heemsoth’s dedication.
“(Trudie’s) always been someone we can count on,” he said. “(She is) leaving big shoes to fill.”
Chamber President Rob Youngblood said Heemsoth has always been great at connecting to community members.
“She treats everybody with kindness and respect,” he said. “She takes care of people.”
Heemsoth’s successor has not yet been named, but the Chamber hopes to find someone by early to mid-January, Youngblood said.
Heemsoth, who has been a member of the Fort Mill Rotary Club since 2003, said she will continue help the community through her church and the Women’s Club of Fort Mill, which she has been a member of for 42 years.
“I’m looking forward to retirement and taking it easy,” she said. “(But) I’m not going to sit in a rocking chair and rock.”