The community turned out en masse to celebrate retiring Blount Partnership CEO and President Fred Forster’s career during a reception at the Chamber of Commerce on July 1.
Forster said it was humbling to see so many friends. “It was really a nice turnout, and I appreciate everyone taking the time and trouble to come,” he said. “It was just a wonderful time.”
Carolyn Forster, Fred’s wife, said the turnout was heartwarming. “We both love this community so much,” she said.
Dr. Allen G. Edwards, president of Pellissippi State Community College, said Forster has always been a supporter and advocate for the school. “He fostered relationships. He’s been a natural leader, and it has been great to work with him,” Edwards said.
Carl Van Hoozier with Vulcan Materials and former chair of the Blount County Chamber said Forster was a mentor to him. “Along with being CEO of the Chamber Partnership, he has always had a heart for and cared about the community,” Van Hoozier said.
Mark Johnson, city manager of Alcoa, said the effect of Forster’s leadership is seen in the growth of the Chamber. “Beyond that, Fred is a great facilitator. He brings people together who might have differences of opinion and provides a calming influence so that differences can be resolved,” he said.
Greg McClain, city manager of Maryville, said Forster’s character set him apart from others. “What I admire about Fred Forster is his consistency from day to day. Every decision he made was to further the success and prosperity of this community, and he did not favor one community over the other,” he said.
Doug Horn, current president of the Blount County Chamber, said Forster has always had a vision for the future of East Tennessee. “He was focused on Blount County, but he led neighboring counties to work as a team as far as attracting business,” Horn said.
Outgoing District 8 State Rep. Joe McCord said Forster communicated well with lawmakers. “You never had to wonder what he was saying. His communications were direct and well thought out. It made the job of representing the interests of the county;s business leaders easier when you knew exactly what was expected.”
Herb Handly, vice president of Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, went to Tyson Junior High School with Forster. “Fred was nice to everybody. It is unusual when the person you see today is the same as the guy you grew up with,” Handly said.
Sharon Hannum, president of the Chamber Foundation, said Forster showed others the meaning of collaborating and being a partner in the community. “He really embodies the principles of teamwork,” she said.
Former WBIR anchor Edye Ellis worked with Forster to co-chair the ‘Nine Counties One Vision’ effort. “He had that wonderful, positive attitude. He really inspired all of us,” she said.
Maryville City councilman Joe Swann said Forster was selfless. “He always put others first and pushed the right things,” he said. “He’s one of the greatest people of our time in this community.”
Maryville City councilman Tommy Hunt echoed Swann’s thoughts. “He always put other’s interests ahead of his,” Hunt said.