BELPRE - The Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce will honor a longtime business owner for her multiple contributions to the community over the past 66 years.
The celebration to honor Marie Gustke, who owned four businesses in the city for 66 consecutive years, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Rockland United Methodist Church.
"We wanted to do something to thank Marie for everything she has done for the community and in Belpre over the years," said Karen Waller, executive director of the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce.
Susie Ashley, a chamber member who is organizing the celebratory event, said when she heard Gustke was retiring she knew the chamber had to do something.
"That she did own and operate businesses for almost 70 years is amazing," Ashley said. "Someone had to do something to honor her and the best way we could do that was by inviting the community that she served."
Gustke, 86, retired in December after she closed her fourth and final business, Memory Mall.
At the time of her retirement, Gustke said the Memory Mall, which was located near Neff's Country Loft and Bob's Market, was opened in 1998 and had held as many as 20 vendors at one time with a variety of items from furniture to nick-knacks.
Gustke and her husband, Charles, opened their first business, Gustke's Store Company, in Belpre in October 1946, following their wedding and his service in World War II.
Along with the original Gustke's, she and her husband purchased a foundering variety store in 1964 and opened Belpre True Value in 1981.
"Marie has been part of the community and done so much for so long, we want to do something to thank her," Waller said. "Her dedication and length of work in Belpre has been amazing."
Anyone who would like to share photographs and stories of Gustke is asked to contact chamber member Dana Fouss at (740) 423-6326.