Gary Bright, who has been the executive director and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce for the past year, surprised the business community in Lehigh when he announced suddenly that he was resigning on Nov. 15.
People like David Deetscreek said that Bright "had been a good director and worked very hard and had always put the Chamber first."
"I am surprised and I wish him the best in his future endeavors," Deetscreek said.
Cindy Dodd, president of the board, told The Citizen that Bright had given her a letter but she wouldn't release it.
"We've written a press release and that is what we are standing with," she said.
The board of directors will hold its annual Retreat on Friday, Nov. 30 and it is likely the resignation and how a new director will be hired will be one of the main topics of discussion.
Inke Baker, who was Bright's assistant, has been named to head the daily operations of the changer until further notice, Dodd said in a press release.
"To say that Gary Bright is going to be missed is an understatement. He has been a wonderful representative of the chamber's values," Dodd said in the news release.
His effective date of his resignation was Nov. 15, which was the day he left.
Baker said he had not discussed his reasons for departure. Bright, as president and CEO, was the emcee of the monthly chamber luncheon meetings and was expected to attend the January ceremony where a new board of directors will be named. He was well liked by the some 300 members of the Chamber and others who knew him in the community.
It is possible that the board will not plan to replace Bright until the new board has been sworn in.
Many in the community have suggested that Inke Baker, who has been with the chamber for some time, would be an ideal replacement. She lives in Lehigh, knows Lehigh and many believe could help the chamber grow.
Attempts to reach Bright last week for a comment were unsuccessful.
When he became chamber CEO last November, in an interview, he told The Citizen that he wanted to move to Lee County because his grown children live in Florida.
His vast experience as a leader of other chambers of commerce up north made him what many thought would be a great asset to the community.
But others say that when he came to Lehigh, he faced a "cultural shock." The Lehigh chamber is unlike many of the much larger chambers where he was director.
Bright had planned, along with others in the chamber, a rock 'n roll musical featuring The Letterman for Dec. 8 at Lehigh Senior High School. He said they had been one of his favorite musical groups when he was younger, during the rock and roll era.