U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, delivered the keynote at Wednesday’s Cleburne Chamber of Commerce quarterly luncheon but it was chamber President Cathy Marchel who proved to be the toast of the event.
“I’m back,” Marchel said to sustained cheers and a standing ovation from the several hundred in attendance.
Marchel, who has served as chamber president since 2003, recently underwent treatment for cancer. Other than a shorter hairstyle such was not in evidence Wednesday as Marchel worked the conference center room with her trademark upbeat energy.
“Don’t do that to me,” Marchel said of the attention. “But thank you, I’m so excited to be back among the living.”
Guest of honor Williams chimed in support as well as he took the stage.
“First of all, it’s good to see Cathy back because we love Cathy,” Williams said.
Marchel, for her part, seemed more focused on chamber and community happenings.
“We’ve had 23 new members join the chamber and that is just remarkable,” Marchel said. “We have got one of the best chambers in North Texas and that is because of all of you. These last few months going to chemo I’ve been excited about all the development on Nolan River Road and the progress of the new Cleburne High School. And that really is very emotional to me because I love our students and we’re giving them a wonderful opportunity to be successful. So, keep it going Cleburne ISD!”
CISD Community Relations Director Lisa Magers said she was thrilled to see Marchel back.
“Before anything else, I just have to say that Cathy has the cutest hairstyle in town and looked beautiful,” Magers said. “She was just sparkling at the Chamber luncheon and rightfully so. So many, many prayers have gone up for her healing and to see her, and hear her good news blessed us all.”
Others in attendance were happy to see Marchel back.
“Cathy’s dedication to this community and the energy she gives is unsurpassed,” Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said. “Over the past few months I have missed working and brainstorming with her while she was fighting cancer. It’s great to see her back and, from today’s reception, it’s clear how much this community loves Cathy and her family.”
Jerry Cash, who serves as executive vice president of the Cleburne Economic Development Foundation, seconded that emotion.
“Myself and everyone I was talking to during the luncheon thought it was great news that Cathy’s back,” Cash said. “I had to deal with cancer myself the last couple of years and know it’s a struggle. But Cathy’s handled herself well all through it and it’s great to see her back in the saddle.”
Marchel received another round of applause after she announced she is cancer free at this time and joked that she should have more hair by the time the chamber’s 20th Annual Business Expo rolls around on Oct. 6.
“Thank you all for your prayers over the past several months,” Marchel said. “It’s been a long road but boy howdy, nothing’s going to hold me down. You know how I am.”