Memphis leaders say Phil Trenary had the heart of a city native

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friends and colleagues of Phil Trenary say he might not originally be from Memphis but he had the heart of a native Memphian.

The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce president and CEO was shot and killed Thursday night in the 500 block Front Street in downtown Memphis.

Memphis Police say right now it is unclear why he was targeted as he was walking home from a benefit run for the Chamber.

The 65-year-old former Pinnacle Airlines CEO turned Memphis Chamber President leaves a lasting impression on the Bluff City.

Leaders from the city of Memphis and state of Tennessee spent Thursday night and Friday were sending their condolences and speaking to Trenary's impact in Memphis, helping to bring and keep big name companies in the city.

The chairman of the Memphis Chamber, Richard Smith, released a statement Friday saying in part, "Phil believed that Memphis' best days are ahead.

He also went on to say, "He took on difficult challenges, remaining laser focused on one goal: for Memphis to win."

"His heart, his dedication, his devotion will definitely be missed," Memphis city councilman Berlin Boyd said.

Trenary's grit and grind evident when we last heard from him a few weeks ago. WREG was there as he spoke about the big plans to remodel the Memphis Airport, mentioning the multitude of projects he had in the works.

"We have three projects we're working right now and of those three projects, we're working about 40 total, but there are three projects where air service is key to getting them here and I'm confident we'll do that," Trenary explained as he spoke at the podium on Sept. 12.

With clearly a heavy heart, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland outlined other big projects Trenary played a critical role in.

"Just in my two and a half years as mayor we worked to help grow St. Jude and keep ServiceMaster here and ya know come downtown which was a real big boost for downtown," Strickland said.

Boyd talked about about personal ideas he brought to Trenary.

"Trying to create a opportunity for the north Memphis area. Redeveloping the Firestone site into opportunities for industrial redevelopment. He bought into it. They went up to the state."

He said Trenary sent people from his team to Nashville to get state money to clean the the site up.

Boyd also said he wasn't just about creating jobs but sustainable jobs.

" We understand the poverty problem in the city of Memphis but however we need to change the plight of poverty and we need to start educating, we need to start training programs, Phil was all about that. There's a void that we're about to have but I'm hoping that people will remember Phil's legacy and his dedication to the city and continue to push to make Memphis better."

Speaking to Trenary's death leaders telling said there is momentum in the city of Memphis. Chamber Chairman, Smith, said Trenary worked to bring opportunity and jobs to the community and "We owe it to him and his legacy to continue that work."