Cecelia Jenkins, the longtime executive director of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce, died at the age of 72 on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Born Dec. 2, 1948, Jenkins was a resident of Yelm and helmed the chamber for 17 years.
“The Yelm Chamber of Commerce family is saddened to hear about the passing of our previous executive director, Cecelia Jenkins,” the Yelm Chamber of Commerce posted on Facebook. “Cecelia dedicated her life to Yelm, to serving the community and its citizens, especially the younger ones, the students of Yelm schools.”
According to the chamber, Jenkins had a love for the community and schools. The chamber noted that Jenkins and her death “leaves a hole in our hearts that will not easily be filled.”
The Yelm chamber of commerce sought to extend its heartfelt condolences to the Jenkins family, to her colleagues and to her friends.
Current chamber Executive Director Line Roy told the Nisqually Valley News that Jenkins was the heart of the chamber for a long time.
“There’s not an event that happened in Yelm that she didn’t play a part in creating or planning,” Roy said. “She had a real heart for her community and especially for the kids of Yelm.”
Roy added that Jenkins loved the annual Christmas in the Park event, due primarily to the fact that it was centered on the community’s youngsters.
“I was really fortunate to get to work under her when I did and fortunate that she was the introduction that brought me to the chamber world,” Roy said. “Cecelia just knew everything. In my earliest chamber days, I’d be looking for a file, and she would just spout off what I was looking for. She wasn’t looking at a file. She just had it in her head. And not just things that were happening currently, but things that happened in the decade before.”
Yelm Mayor JW Foster also shared his thoughts on Jenkins’ life and work.
“Cecelia Jenkins was the common thread that wove our community together for decades,” Foster said. “She was tireless, always involved and one of those rare people who you could always count on to get things done.”
He touted her efforts to draw in community support.
“You had to watch out though, because she was just as tireless in her efforts to get others to pitch in,” Foster said. “If something was happening in Yelm, Cecelia was either doing it herself or asking you to help her with it. And it was a pleasure to do so.”
He said Jenkins always made people feel important and was reluctant to let the light shine on her, though all were aware of her efforts.
“Cecelia Jenkins was a true Yelm spirit and her legacy will live on in the many lives she touched,” Foster said.
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