“I’ve been threatening to do it for several years,” Eloise Sherman said at the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce luncheon last month.
“I’m out of here.”
After serving as the Chamber’s president since 1986, 85-year-old Sherman has retired. Her position at the Chamber has been filled by neighborhood volunteer and activist Helen Swint.
“I’ve talked about this for years,” Sherman says. “But every year, I say I’m going to give it another year.”
“I used to feel like there were so many things to do, but I never have time.”
Sherman grew up in the neighborhood, and when she and her husband Bill married, she says it was the natural place for them to live. In 1958, they opened Sherman’s Lakewood Hobbies, which later became Sherman’s Lakewood Art and Framing.
Her involvement with the Chamber began in 1961, when the organization was the Lakewood/Skillman Business Association. Sherman took a part-time secretary position with the organization that year and has been with the group since, helping change it into the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce in 1986.
She was a key player in beautification projects for the Lakewood Shopping Center, spearheading efforts to have Abrams Parkway built.
But she says one of her proudest accomplishments is growing the Chamber’s membership, which boasts 200 neighborhood businesses. The monthly luncheons attract an average of 60 members.
“She is the Chamber,” says Annette Stone, chairman of the Chamber’s board.
“She has been the backbone. As she put it – this is her baby. She nourished it and grew it. As we say, she’s Miss Lakewood.”
Sherman devoted about 30 hours weekly to her job. She coordinated committee meetings and luncheons and recruited volunteers for Chamber activities, such as the spring bingo fund-raiser and the annual holiday toy drive, which provides presents for neighborhood families.
Sherman says she will still be available and involved. The Chamber’s board made her a lifetime member and gave her a seat on the board.
She plans to fill her schedule with hobbies that went by the way-side over the years. She will begin to play the piano again, which she studied for several years when she was younger, and she wants to read.
Her love of books triggered her involvement with the Lakewood Library. She was a founder of the Lakewood Library Friends and of the Dallas Chapter of the Literacy Volunteers of America. She also serves as a chairman for the City’s library board.
Sherman’s successor, Swint, also has a history of neighborhood service. She has moved to East Dallas in 1983 and was a founding member of the Old East Dallas Renaissance Coalition. She also served as president of the Historic Preservation League and volunteered full-time for several years frequently attending meetings at City Hall to address neighborhood issues, she says.
“All the things I’ve done center on making, one, our City, and two, our neighborhood, a better place to live,” Swint says.
“I see this as another way to make this area of town a better place to work in, live in and invest in,” Swint says.
“She has a way with people that even if you disagree with her, you still like her,” Stone says about Swint.
“She’s done so much volunteer work. I think she’ll do a fantastic job.”
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