TEMPLE TERRACE – There was good reason to celebrate at the recent Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards and installation banquet.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the organization.
In recognition of its half-century existence, Mayor Frank Chillura, City Manager Gerald Seeber and their spouses gathered with chamber members and other invited guests at the Museum of Science & Industry’s recently refurbished Gladys Kashdin Welcome Center.
The evening’s festivities, sponsored by Republic Bank, kicked off with Doug Winton, Florida market president of Republic Bank, and Cheri Donohue, former Temple Terrace chamber executive director, naming a lineup of Legends of the Chamber.
One by one they gave kudos to George Fee, Ken Lightfoot, Ralph Lupton, Ann Simmons, Paul Tomasino, Dr. Ernie Traina and Bob Woodard for their roles in getting the organization started and well on its way toward success.
Simmons, 83, the only woman among the seven heralded trail blazers, also served as the chamber’s first female chamber president from 1981 to 1983.
In addition, the longtime Temple Terrace resident, who before the chamber had an official place to call home hosted many a chamber meeting in her living room, was recipient of its 1971 – 1972 Citizen of the Year award.
Her unprecedented impact on the organization prompted officials to establish the annual Ann Simmons Service Award in 2010 as a means to recognize staunch chamber supporters who live outside the city.
Phil Lentsch was present at this year’s dinner in the presence of Simmons to humbly accept the 2013 award.
“I’m used to giving awards but receiving an award like this is awesome,” said Lentsch, owner of Office Dynamics, a greeting card and print shop that is celebrating its 25th year in Temple Terrace.
“Knowing it’s named after Ann, almost Mrs. Temple Terrace herself, means a lot,” he said.
However Lentsch, in his own right, is well-known and respected for his service to the community.
In his more than 20 years as a chamber member he has served two terms as chamber president. He also has chaired the chamber’s Business Expo as well as its Fourth of July parade and fireworks festivities.
In the summer following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, he went so far as to invite and personally pick up the tab for several New York City firefighters and police officers to come and enjoy a relaxing Fourth of July holiday in Temple Terrace.
In 1998, the Tampa Palms resident also founded the Temple Terrace chamber’s annual New Teachers’ Breakfast. In addition he annually picks up the cost of a welcome-back luncheon for teachers and staff at Greco Middle School.
“I love teachers but it doesn’t mean that they loved me when I was a kid,” Lentsch mused. “They can never be thanked enough.”
For all his good deeds he’s also been a past recipient of the chamber’s President’s Award and the Bob Woodard Award in memory of the city’s former mayor and all-around Temple Terrace supporter.
In addition, Office Dynamics was named Business of the Year in 2003.
Simmons said she considers it an honor to have an award named in recognition of her contributions to the chamber and to the community as a whole.
“And I am so pleased and happy that Phil Lentsch received it this year,” she said. “He well deserves it for all he has done.”
Past recipients include Al Latina in 2010, Jamie Klingman in 2011 and Georgene Perlman in 2002.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.