Edna Fadden retiring after 50 years with Chalmers

FIRST CLASS BROKER — Edna Fadden holds down the fort in her back office at Chalmers Realty where, at age 85 and a half, she serves as the company’s vice president and designated broker and manager. She will retire on Friday, Sept. 20, and a party will be held in her honor on that day from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Bridgton Highlands Country Club. Anyone who has worked with her over the years in her many business and civic pursuits is welcome to attend.

FIRST CLASS BROKER — Edna Fadden holds down the fort in her back office at Chalmers Realty where, at age 85 and a half, she serves as the company’s vice president and designated broker and manager. She will retire on Friday, Sept. 20, and a party will be held in her honor on that day from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Bridgton Highlands Country Club. Anyone who has worked with her over the years in her many business and civic pursuits is welcome to attend.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

There’ll be some sadness, no doubt, at the retirement party for Edna Fadden on Sept. 20 at the Bridgton Highlands Country Club. After 50 years of dedicated service to Chalmers Realty, Edna is retiring, at age 85 and a half.

Above all, though, the party, from 5 to 7 p.m., is meant as a joyous celebration of a remarkable woman who dedicated 50 years of her life to Chalmers Realty, while raising four children and still finding time to serve on many local, regional and state organizations, earning many accolades along the way.

For the past 20 years or so, she’s served as the agency’s Designated Broker and Manager, in charge of managing all of the agency’s other brokers. She is also vice president of Chalmers Realty, and has held many leadership positions on real estate boards at the regional, state and national level.

“She’s like our mom. It’s going to be very sad. I like having mom around,” said one of the Chalmers realtors, Liz Marcella. “When you have a question, you can just pop in, and she always knows the answer. She’s a wealth of information to everybody.”

Edna plans to keep her license for another two years, to be available to fill in for other brokers as a duty person during vacations and sick days.

But her selling days are over. “I couldn’t do all the walking — I’m 85 and a half!” she exclaimed, her wit as quick as ever.

Eileen Rounds, a 20-year Chalmers broker, will assume Edna’s management duties at the agency. “We want everyone to come (to the party) who’s worked with Edna over the years,” said Rounds. “She’s truly touched so many lives.”

When Edna began working for Chalmers as a secretary on Sept. 16, 1963, the agency was a small three-person office. She came at the behest of the late Herb Chalmers, who had turned his focus to selling boys and girls by forming the New England Camp Realty Association. It was just him, with his son Bruce. Herb, who Edna steadfastly continues to refer to as “Mr. Chalmers,” needed someone to help keep the office running.

Edna delivered — and then some. She’d begun studying real estate before taking the job, as preparation, and earned her broker’s license on Feb. 26, 1964.

“She’s been the mainstay in our real estate operations, a first class real estate broker all the way,” said Chalmers Realty President Bruce Chalmers. He said she deserves praise for her 1979 election as president of the Maine Association of Realtors, an honor no other local realtor he knows of has achieved.

“She feels it’s time for her to retire. She’s been very, very involved in the community — and she’s sold a ton of real estate,” said Chalmers.

Rounds said what has made Edna such a good manager is that “No matter what the changes have been over time, she has such good common sense. If you don’t start with good common sense it doesn’t matter how much technology you have, or how hardworking you are. Whatever our problems have been, Edna’s been very good at sorting them out.”

The Bridgton News sat down with Edna recently, asking her to recall those days, and all the changes she’s weathered from those simpler times, when selling a piece of real estate took only a one-page legal contract and rarely were listings shared. Here’s what she had to say:

BN: What was it like when you started working at Chalmers?

“In the early days I was a secretary, I wrote contracts, I even did the books. Originally it was a very small building with one private office, and the girl sat in the front and Bruce had a little cubicle next to the door that went into the men's and ladies’ room. They've added on three or four times over the years. This used to be Warren’s Market (of her office in the back for 20 years). And my husband always said, you're sitting in where they used to make those nice peanuts.”

“Oh yes, we’ve grown and grown. We didn't add brokers for a long time. But then we started adding brokers… because I couldn't do everything. Oh yeah, I did everything — and I had four kids at home. In the past few years I've kind of cooled down, you know. I might take one day a week off.”

“There were no computers, and you didn’t communicate with other realtors (in other agencies) unless there was a request. I can remember, Mr. Chalmers went to the post office one day and he said Les Dudley wants me to send him a copy of all of our listings. And I said, ‘Why would you do that? That's giving away all of your business! I'll never forget it. Today, through the Internet, everyone knows about each listing as soon as it’s posted.”

BN: You must have worked some really long weeks.

Oh, we did. We’re not open on the weekend, but only by appointment. (Buyers) would call you at home and want to see something, and you’d have to come in and write a contract. I can remember getting dinner one Sunday, and I had to stop because I got a call that someone was going to meet me at the office because they had a contract on a piece of land on Moose Pond. That was how it was back then, it was really much simpler. I didn't even have to show the property. It was a development, and the lots were all numbered. They just picked one.”

Prices were much lower, too, Edna said. A lot on Moose Pond might sell for $20,000 in the 1960s, or $40,000. “You can't believe what the prices were” in the 60s, Edna said. The old Sportsman’s Exchange, across from Renys, sold for $55,000. Deals were made by signing a one-page contract on legal paper, without the need for all the disclosures required today.

“Now, it’s just a lot of paperwork. And the consumers really wanted that. It's gotten very sophisticated,” Edna said. “There's more protection for the buyers and the sellers. The buyer is represented by a broker and the seller is represented by a broker. If you are a seller's broker, you can only represent the seller, you cannot represent the buyer.”

BN: Are you proud of what Chalmers has been able to do?

“Yes, I am. One thing I have to say, the company has always been an honest company. Truthfully, that's what I like about it. Our motto has always been, ‘Our customer is our first consideration.’ I can't say enough good about (the Chalmers family), because they are nice people. They feel like family to me — and I say that all the time. So it's just like I am separating myself from my family. It's going to be tough. It's going to be tough at that retirement thing, I can tell you.”

“Bruce and Bill run the insurance now and Bill has two of his children working. Dottie (Chalmers Cutter), she's going to have twins pretty soon. And Nicholas (Chalmers) works for NAHGA (National Accident and Health General Agency, Inc.) the (insurance) company they have next door. And Bruce has Jimmy (Chalmers) in the insurance here, and he's doing very well. And he has another son Tommy who is doing NAHGA in New Hampshire. That's the next generation.”

BN: How about your four children — Sandra, Bruce, Reginald Jr. and David — did they have an interest in real estate?

They never did. It can be a tough life. When the economy is down, and people are not buying, you're not selling, and you’re not making any money. There have been some tough years. And I've seen it all. But you know, I have to say one thing — I never had to borrow money to run the real estate. I'm very proud of that. I've never had to borrow a penny. That's true. (With her late husband, Reggie), we've gotten by very well over the years.”

BN: Talk about your work with the Western Maine Board of Realtors.

“Well, because no one else would do it, I suppose, I was president of the Western Maine Board of Realtors. And then after that I was secretary and treasurer for about 15 years or so, and president of the Maine Board of Realtors in 1979.”

Edna has also served on the Bridgton School Board, was involved with the children’s Ski School Program at Pleasant Mountain (now Shawnee Peak), was a member of the Bridgton-Lake Region Rotary, served as trustee, secretary and treasurer of the Bridgton Library, and currently serves on the Bridgton Advisory Board for the Kendal and Anna Ham Foundation.

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