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Milford Beacon
  • Former chamber president remembered for life of service

  • Fred Rohm served on the board for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford for a year before serving two terms as president in 2011 and 2012. The 71-year-old was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July and lost the battle on April 16.
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  • Fred Rohm, despite being a resident of Felton, took Milford under his wing and viewed it as his “little town”, according to his wife of ten years.
    “He saw Milford as having a lot of potential, and he was trying to help develop that potential,” Donna Rohm said. “We’re from Felton but he basically lived in Milford. He liked the people and he liked the town.”
    Fred Rohm served on the board for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford for a year before serving two terms as president in 2011 and 2012. The 71-year-old was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July and lost the battle on April 16.
    Fred Rohm was a natural fit for the Milford chamber. He had spent his career working for non-profits such as the United States Table Tennis Association. He began working for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce in 1972, and in the years that followed he worked for chambers up and down the state like the Greater Newark Chamber of Commerce, the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and the Hartford County Chamber of Commerce in Bel-Air, Md., Donna Rohm said.
    “He just loved chamber work,” she said. “It’s what he enjoyed most as far as employment.”
    While Fred was president of the Milford chamber he drew up a five-year plan which included programs such as the Be Loyal, Buy Local program, which aimed at encouraging Milford residents to keep their shopping dollars local, said Jo Schmeiser, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford.
    “He talked a lot about his work in Milford and he enjoyed every minute of it,” Donna Rohm said. “He liked the people he worked with.”
    He also orchestrated a public forum that brought together members from local non-profits, churches and civic organizations to identify the difficulties, the needs and the opportunities in Milford. 
    In the latter months of his second term, Fred’s health began to decline. He had undergone an operation in November 2012 to try and remove the tumor from his pancreas. Donna said he never really recovered from the procedure. Despite his weakened condition, Fred finished out his term, working via phone and email, said Schmeiser.
    “I know he was very dedicated,” Schmeiser said. “I know he wanted to do all he could to improve the chamber. We were growing and doing really well, but he wanted to bring it to the next level.”
    Fred had also incorporated a forum for local business owners into his five-year plan. Mike Kazala, who served as Rohm’s vice president and succeeded him as president on the chamber, helped realize that bullet point on the plan, though Fred was too sick at the time to attend the event.
    Page 2 of 2 - Aside from all of his hard work for the chamber, Fred was known for many other attributes, such as his sense of humor, which friends and family said they would miss about him.
    “He was an old-school guy. He always had a joke to open, to break the ice,” said Kazala. “We didn’t always get them but they always brought us a smile. He was determined and quite resilient. When he first joined the board he was met with resistance by long-time members, there was a lot of push back, but he used his resilience and his sense of humor to break down barriers.”
    Donna Rohm said that one of the things she would miss most about her husband was his smile and his sense of optimism.
    In his personal life, Fred was known for his willingness to help others and even keel. Donna’s nickname for him was Steady Freddy, because he wasn’t easily rattled. Fred was also known for his faith.
    “The most unique thing about him was the fact that he was a devout Christian. It guided his whole life,” Donna Rohm said.
    She plans to remember her husband by carrying on his legacy of faithful dedication. She intends to continue the tract ministry that Fred carried out at their church.
    Services were held for Fred on Saturday at Manship Chapel in Felton. He was buried at Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear.
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