Southwestern Adventist University President Ana Patterson was the featured speaker as the Keene Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 29th birthday at its monthly luncheon July 28 attended by 110 people at the Keene Community Center.

The event also served as a fundraiser for “Old Glory for Old Betsy,” the program that features 366 U.S. flags that are displayed along Old Betsy Road on 11-foot poles during 13 Federal holidays and special occasions. 

Although the goal was to raise $2,900 to coincide with the chamber’s birthday, attendees contributed $3,200.

Patterson, the University’s first female and Hispanic president, talked about the student diversity on campus and about the University’s commitment to “knowledge, faith and service.”

Donors to the flag program were: Ulrich Lifestyle, Senior Planning Services, Quality Brakes & Alignment, Cheryl & Wes Schram, Debrah & Dave Singer, Sue & Bill Guinn, Bonnie & Paul Gnadt, General Insurance Service, Crest Water, Keene Pharmacy, Rosser Funeral Home, DFW Materials, Choice Care, Edward Jones Office of Eddie Yancey, Texas Health Huguley Hospital, Terry Hoskins, Gary Heinrich, Texas Adventist Conference, Hearts & Flowers, Duane Barnes, Gillin Realty, Cleburne Ford, Wanda Smith, Callahan & Freeman Architects, Ana Patterson, Phillip Jackson and Danielle Elliott.

According to minutes from the Keene chamber archives, 24 people met at the Keene Diner on July 1, 1993, to discuss forming a chamber of commerce. 

The group decided to extend charter membership in the chamber to all individuals and businesses who applied through September 1993. Dr. Brady Rusk and Bob Mendenhall, acting on behalf of radio station KJCR, were the first to apply for membership. 

Besides Mendenhall and Rusk, others in attendance at that historic meeting included: the late Ivan Allen, Duane Barnes, Peter Bennis, Rebecca Bolinger, Ginger Dickens, the late Eveline Gilley, Janet Goodman, Angie Hadley, Barbara Hainey, Betty Harrell, James Moody, Larry Moore, Tony Muse, Ray Nichols, Yddo Ortiz, Martin Read, Jenell Rusk, the late V.O. Schneider, Cathy Smith, Wanda Smith, and late Dolly Spells-Chastain and Carolyn Jo Wear. 

Mendenhall, Rusk, Barnes, Goodman, Ortiz and Smith attended the luncheon and received special recognition.