WORTHINGTON — Retirement is on the horizon for the longtime executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Darlene Macklin, who has led the Chamber since 1987, first publicly announced her plans to retire at the annual Chamber Extravaganza in January. She also submitted her retirement letter to the Chamber and CVB board of directors that same month.

The Chamber is now in the process of searching for a replacement for Macklin, whose last day is set for July 31. A committee was established to interview and recommend potential candidates, with the final decision to be made by the full board.

Macklin began her employment at the Chamber in the spring of 1981. She was promoted to the position of administrative assistant two years later, and from there moved into the executive director post after twice serving as interim director when two directors went on to other jobs.

Among the highlights of Macklin’s Chamber career, she said, are the completion of a four-lane Minnesota 60 and the reconstruction of 10th Street. She also fondly recalls helping start the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival with Bill Keitel and Jeff Hegwer.

“I still remember the first meeting with Dennis Hall and Joni Harms, who were very instrumental in getting the event started,” Macklin said. “The Globe was the very first sponsor of the event, and actually covered costs for three individuals to go to Florida and pitch Worthington for the first National Windsurfing Regatta in 1999. We then went on to host three more nationals.”

Another high point for Macklin, she added, was contracting with the State of Minnesota in 2003 to staff the Travel Information Center south of Worthington.

Also taking place under Macklin’s leadership was the partnership between the Chamber and the Worthington United Way, which was formed following the retirement of that organization’s director and secretary and led to a name change to United Way of Nobles County. Just recently, the Chamber also partnered with District 518 Community Education and started the Leadership Development program.

“I have fond memories of my career as the executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau,” Macklin said. “I have submitted my resignation and now look forward to my retirement, enjoying the coming visits with grandchildren, travel and all the experiences of retirement.”