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Atascadero loses a community leader

Joanne Main is Executive Director of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. Her first job was at a hardware store much like DeCou ACE Hardware in Atascadero.
David Middlecamp
12/7/04
Joanne Main is Executive Director of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. Her first job was at a hardware store much like DeCou ACE Hardware in Atascadero. David Middlecamp 12/7/04 dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Atascadero lost one of its business champions Tuesday with the unexpected death of Joanne Main, the Chamber of Commerce’s president and chief executive officer.

Main, 58, had led the chamber since 2000.

“Everyone is just sad and shocked to the core,” said Chuck Braun, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.

Main died about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday after undergoing emergency surgery Monday night at French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

A moment of silence was to be held in her memory at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. A wreath of black satin and pink flowers was hung on the door of Main’s office.

“She was the best mom anybody could ever ask for,” said her daughter, Jessica Hamilton, 30, of Atascadero. “My brother and I were very, very lucky to have her. She was a wonderful, selfless, beautiful person.”

Main’s friends and colleagues said she loved Atascadero and believed in the community.

“She always had a human touch about things — making sure no one was surprised about something and that everyone was included,” Atascadero Main Street Executive Director Steve Martin said.

He spoke about her smile and her laugh.

When she wasn’t thinking of a new project to help local businesses, Main was brainstorming for one.

“She was not a back-seat person,” Martin said. “She was always jumping in to help get work done.”

Main was on medical leave at the time of her death, but she stepped in the chamber office at one point late last week to make sure everything was in order for Saturday’s annual awards banquet. She didn’t feel up to attending the party, as she had hoped.

In March 2010, Main learned the rumba for a dance competition to raise money for the Atascadero-Martin Polin Regional Library expansion. She referred to the experience as “a personal best for me.”

“This is way outside my box, actually,” she told The Tribune at the time. “I would not call myself a dancer (but) I was open to learning.”

Besides her daughter, Main is survived by her husband of 34 years, David Main of Atascadero; son Chris Main, 25, of Atascadero; 21-month-old granddaughter Camille Hamilton of Atascadero; and older sisters Caryn Simon of Santa Cruz and Claudia Shelton of Sacramento. Her second grandchild is due in May.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund will be set up at Santa Lucia Bank for donations to the Rotary Club of Atascadero and Atascadero Friends of the Library.

Services are pending.

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