The chamber profession is mourning the death of Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Ike McLeese. McLeese, 69, passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 29. He had suffered a heart attack in early September and had recently undergone open heart surgery.
McLeese, who led the chamber since 1994, planned to retire in December and continue serving the organization as a consultant on military affairs. He is remembered as a champion for Columbia, home to Fort Jackson, and for the military. He served on the S.C. Military Base Task Force and was a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army. McLeese was credited in large part with the successes the region had during the 2005 round of base realignment and closure (BRAC).
In an article reflecting on McLeese’s time as the chamber’s leader, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said McLeese “has been a wonderful influence and a great guiding force for the city and the entire metropolitan area.”
Ike was a native South Carolinian. He began his career as a staff member for Senator Fritz Hollings and had a long career in marketing, consulting and government relations before taking over the Columbia Chamber in 1994. A letter posted by Columbia Chamber Chairman Holt Chetwood states, “ no one worked more tirelessly than Ike for the betterment of the state and the community.”
Ike was an avid baseball fan. Each summer he and a group of friends went to 5 MLB games in 5 different stadiums during one week. In fact, he skipped dinner to go see the Indians play during ACCE’s Health Care summit in Cleveland this year. No doubt Ike visited the ballparks in many of your cities many times.
Funeral details are online here. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to PETS, Inc., PO Box 6394, West Columbia, SC 29171.