by Timothy W. Scee II
Published August 10, 2010
— “Well, I didn’t go to
work at the chamber to stay there all those years,” said
Mary M. Parry, a 50-year member of the Greater Watertown-North
Country Chamber of Commerce, for whom it’s conference room was
titled the “Mary Parry Room,” Monday.
Mrs. Parry believed she and her granddaughter were simply
invited to the chamber Monday morning for coffee and
she arrived to find a blue and white Hawaiian lei hung
over the threshold of the new room, filled with collages
of clippings, pictures and memoirs, dedicated to the woman
who began her service to the GWNC Chamber in 1960.
Mrs. Parry said her long-time journey with the GWNC
Chamber was somewhat accidental.
“I went there because the secretary was ill,” Mrs.
Parry recalled. “Jean Hughes, who was the executive, was
desperate and I said, ‘Gee, I don’t know, I’ll have
to ask the Red Cross if I can have some time off,’
because I was a volunteer there.”
Mrs. Parry, who served as the chamber’s executive
director from 1984 to 1991, said the organization was “a
whole lot different” in hear first years.
“We didn’t do a lot of things. It was strictly
membership and that’s what you went for.”
Over the years, Mrs. Parry helped implement several new
programs and events, neither the City of Watertown nor the
GWNC Chamber had ever seen before, including Snowtown USA,
Pumpkin Festival, Watertown Hotel Association, and the
first annual Watertown Irish Festival.
From the time Mrs. Parry first joined the chamber until
she retired in 1991, membership grew 162 percent from 350
“She certainly is an icon in the North Country,” Peter
J. Whitmore, executive director of the GWNC Chamber said.
“... and has a history of being committed, supporting
Nearly 20 years before her involvement with the GWNC
Chamber, Mrs. Parry became active with the United Service
“Franklin Roosevelt had said, ‘We need something for
the military,’” Mrs. Parry said. “They started the
USO and, in June we graduated, and six of us gals went
down and figured, ‘We’re going down and dance for the
Mrs. Parry moved to Watertown in 1959 where she ran the
USO headquarters out of the YWCA building on Public
Sixty years later, she still serves on eight chamber
committees and is involved with other organizations,
including the Watertown Rotary Club.
“I’ve had a great life, worked hard for everything,”
Mrs. Parry said.
She added, “I think the best thing we ever did was, in
1959, move to Watertown.”