I first met Mary Beth Rettke when I started volunteering at the Visitors’ Center in Washington. Back then she was the Office Manager at the Chamber of Commerce. Now Mary Beth is our new Tourism Director and she also happens to be my boss, since I started working part-time welcoming visitors to Washington. I have always liked Mary Beth, and every time I see her she greets me with a smile. When I found out that she has been working at the Chamber for over 21 years, I knew I had to interview her for the blog! It’s wonderful to find people who are so dedicated to their job and to Washington. As part of her work, Mary Beth gives tours to visitors, telling them about Washington’s history and promoting our local businesses and shops, which is another way of re-discovering Washington and seeing the familiar anew.
The Morning: I have never been much of a morning person… just ask my husband. It takes me a while to get acclaimed with each day, which is why you usually see me rushing to my morning meetings. But, when there is time during the week, and definitely on the weekends, I do love to have my coffee on my sun porch overlooking the green pasture and the pond. Otherwise I grab a yogurt and I’m out the door to have my coffee at the office.
The Coffee: What I call coffee others may call coffee-flavored cream. The main area of our house is painted “white coffee”. This tan paint is pretty true to the color of the coffee I drink throughout the day.
The Drink: I do enjoy an occasional glass of wine. There are so many good local wines. I think our tag line for the area should be “What’s Napa?”.
The Food: I have never met a food I didn’t like. Seriously. I consider myself a pretty good cook and can fix almost anything in a way that I love. With the kids all grown and out of the house I don’t cook as much as I used to, but that is not a problem since we have such great restaurants here.
The Shops: I have never been a clothes-horse, but I do love my shoes, scarfs, and purses. Washington has great gift and specialty shops to keep my closet full of fun accessories. My goal at Christmas was to shop only local, and with the exception of a couple book store gift cards, I was successful. If everyone in our area supported the local shops we would all be winners!
The Accessories: I covered much of that in my shopping. However, I didn’t mention the fact that I love unique necklaces. I scour resale shops for some of my bling! Rings I keep simple: left hand sports my wedding set and right hand my mother’s engagement ring. I also have a mother’s ring with my children’s birthstones and a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring I wear for special occasions, but I am not into the “ring on every finger” look. And you will never see me wearing a hat unless I am on stage doing comedy, because they look ridiculous on me!
The Place: Any place can be “the” place for me when spending time with family. I’ve been married for 35 years and have two daughters, a son, and two granddaughters. These people are the most important in my life and anytime we can be together it’s a party.
Your Personal Space: Being the 4th of eight children I really did not understand personal space until I became an adult. I enjoy the time I take for contemplation and prayer, whether in church or sitting on a bench at Rennick Park watching the river flow by.
The Friends: I still meet up annually with a group of ladies I went to grade school with in St. Louis. I have monthly dinners and vacation with ladies I have been friends with since my early teen years. When I make friends it seems to be for life and I love it! Many of the people who I’ve met through involvement in schools, working, and church I consider good friends, but never seem to find enough hours in the day to give them the time they deserve. In case you haven’t noticed, I love people!
At work: I have been at the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce for over 21 years. What I do has changed tremendously over the years, since I began basically as a “Girl Friday”. After a while I became a Project Coordinator, organizing many of the Chamber events and composing the newsletter. Later I was the Office Manager, and for the last year Tourism Director. It has been a big change, and I found that you can teach an old dog new tricks. I love giving tours and talking about this great city I call home. I am now writing grants… who knew? Each day I meet new people and learn more about Washington, Franklin County, and our great state of Missouri. I will never get rich working non-profit–but I love the people, the job, and flexibility of the Chamber, which is something money can’t buy. I hope to be here for many years to come!
At home: I love to sew. I had a business out of my home for years while my children were young, but now I only do it for pleasure. I love a good book, but I have to be careful to schedule my reading, because when I start a book nothing else matters. I won’t put it down until I finish. We live outside of Washington on Hwy. YY. Growing up a “city” girl, I never had any idea how much I would love living in the country. We live on part of the Rettke Family cattle farm and see the beauty of nature every day. I can actually identify some crops in the field and certain breeds of bovine!
Downtown: Our downtown area makes my job of “selling” Washington easy. Washington is a fantastic city, only made stronger by the vital downtown area. Downtown Washington, Inc. puts their heart and soul into the downtown. Revitalizing historic buildings and making them gems in the community is only one reason this group received National Main Street honors. Kudos!
You can find Mary Beth every day at the Washington Chamber of Commerce. She loves her job and it shows!