Cabool Area Chamber of Commerce director Rosanna Hathaway passed away unexpectedly last Friday morning. As news of her passing spread through the community it was met with disbelief and sadness.
“Rosanna was a special kind of person, one that will be greatly missed in the community as not only our wonderful Chamber director but also as a dear friend,” Chamber president Amy Porter said. “She will truly be missed, leaving a hole in our community as well as our hearts.”
John Williams, who works at Cabool Pharmacy and is a City of Cabool alderman, said, “She stepped into a difficult position and excelled. She reevaluated things that didn’t work and adapted them. She used all her resources to advertise and encourage local businesses.” Williams also praised Hathaway for making events family friendly. “She was very good at trying to incorporate things for the entire family.”
Benjamin Leonard, pastor at First Baptist Church, a Cabool Community Foundation board member and owner of Benjamin Brew, said, “She was a champion for Cabool! She fought through adversity and criticism to bring fun, laughter, and commerce to our community. She did so with a smile on her face and an energy that is unmatched. While many may have doubted her, questioned her, and challenged her motives, she wanted nothing more than for others to succeed. Her selflessness should be mimicked by us all.” He added, “It is going to take all of us to accomplish just half of what she did. She will be deeply missed.”
“She was an awesome person, always smiling,” Dan Salyer, owner of The Gas Station, said, echoing the sentiments of many. “She’s going to be deeply missed.”
Hathaway started work as Cabool Area Chamber of Commerce director three years ago this month. Known for her love of people and her exceptional organization skills, she immediately set out to get to know the community and its businesses. Her first major event was the 2017 Christmas parade, which was followed by an ugly Christmas sweater contest, one of her many “let’s try this” ideas.
During 2018, Hathaway worked to bring the circus to town that spring, organized a popular trivia contest, helped host outdoor movie nights in Roberts Park, partnered with STARS Foundation for national fiddling and clogging competitions held in Cabool, coordinated Cabool Night at a Springfield Cardinals game, promoted a successful truck pull in August, and organized a fall Farm Fest/Outdoors in the Ozarks. That year’s Chamber of Commerce community Christmas activities included not only the parade and ugly sweater contest, but also a tree lighting and community carol sing and open houses at several businesses with prize drawings.
A new take on the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet opened 2019 – a casino night that was a hit with members. The year brought another successful trivia night, along with a number of other events. She also launched Food Truck Tuesday, lining up a different food truck for each month, spring through fall, and it received good community support. She kept members and the community up on local events through her Chamber Chatter column in the Enterprise, by posts on the Chamber’s Facebook page and website, and with an electronic newsletter to members.
As the Chamber board moved away from the former Farm Fest, Hathaway helped develop what was called Summer Fun Fest. Its first run was August 22 and was termed a big success. A variety of food trucks lined the Chamber grounds in west Cabool, craft and information booths were on hand, and the day ended with an evening outdoor concert by Members Only. It had barely ended when she was off and running with ideas to make it even bigger and better next year.
Hathaway lived in Plato with her husband, Jason, but had great affection for the Cabool community. She was a founding member of the recently formed Cabool Community Foundation board, bringing her insight and enthusiasm to work towards the betterment of the community.
She also was active in her home community, as president of the Roby Community Citizen’s Center board and organizer of the annual Roby Fair, along with monthly dinners.
Her funeral was held Tuesday, September 8, at Plato Christian Church. Her obituary appears on Page 9 of this issue.
The monthly Chamber meeting planned September 8 was canceled, and the Chamber board was going to meet Wednesday to begin work to move forward with Chamber business.