Lynn Whitehouse, who was executive director of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce for 31 years, has died. (Langley Advance Times files)

‘Face of the Langley Chamber’ Lynn Whitehouse dies after illness

From Expo 86 to 2016, Whitehouse advocated for Langley businesses

Lynn Whitehouse, who held a record tenure as executive director of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, has died.

For 31 years, Whitehouse was busy advocating for the Langley business community, lobbying politicians, and working at the local and provincial level.

“Personally, Lynn was a mentor to me,” said Colleen Clark, current CEO of the Langley chamber. She took over when Whitehouse retired in 2016.

Whitehouse was a fixture at provincial and regional events, and helped other chamber staff and directors learn how to run their organizations and deal with local governments, Clark said.

“She was ‘Langley Lynn,’” Clark recalled.

Teri James, executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association, said Whitehouse was a “community icon.”

“She was a fierce defender of what she believed in, was always available to listen and if asked, give her wise advice,” James said. “In addition to being highly valued by the businesses she represented, she was also a mentor to those of us who were new to the not-for-profit industry and was always ready to help ‘show us the ropes.’ Essentially, she was a woman in a position of great authority and used this awesome responsibility to make Langley a better place.”

Township Mayor Jack Froese got to know Whitehouse first when he and his family started J.D. Farms, and then later as a director of the chamber around 2004.

“She was always a champion of Langley,” who gave him valuable advice and insight, Froese said.

He noted that for years, Whitehouse was the face of the Langley Chamber of Commerce.

Jim McGregor, who knew Whitehouse both when he was Langley City fire chief and then over several years of work with the chamber itself, recalled how she acted as a sounding board and resource for people starting new businesses around town. She was always available to help with advice and to connect them to other businesses locally.

He remembered times he would pop into the chamber office and find Whitehouse consulting with chamber staff as far afield as Nova Scotia or Ontario.

“One of the builders of Langley, for sure,” McGregor said.

She began her work for the chamber almost by accident.

In 1986, Whitehouse was working as an assistant to the economic development officer for Langley City and Township. The economic development office shared offices with the chamber at the time, and when the chamber manager left, and the economic development partnership between the City and Township ended, Whitehouse switched over to working on the chamber side.

“I truly do love the community, so it was really easy to stay,” she told the Langley Advance Times in 2016.

Her tenure at the chamber saw many changes, with Langley almost doubling in population, as well as the chamber itself changing its role.

Whitehouse helped Langley’s chamber punch above its weight when it came to lobbying governments.

She could be extraordinarily determined, working on issues for years on end.

After the federal government announced in the mid-2000s that commercial traffic would be diverted away from the Aldergrove border crossing, local businesses were concerned about having to move their goods farther, and losing a local link to the U.S.

Whitehouse took on the issue and lobbied for years, often alongside the late Langley MP Mark Warawa, not just to ensure that trucks could use the Aldergrove crossing, but that it would be expanded.

She worked with local politicians and found allies on both sides of the 49th parallel, and in 2014 work started on a $17.7 million upgrade.

The then-chamber president Scott Johnston joked that the crossing should have been renamed after Whitehouse.

READ ALSO: Whitehouse honoured for Aldergrove border work

When Whitehouse retired in 2016, she was given a grand send off by the business and political community of Langley.

Whitehouse had been ill for approximately a year before she passed away the week of Dec. 16.

“Our hearts and our condolences are with her family at this time,” Clark said.

Posts on social media drew condolences from current and former politicians, business leaders, artists, and community members who had worked with her over the years.

READ ALSO: Whitehouse given send off by Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce

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