Citing "personal and professional difficulties," Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer Stanley B. Parrish abruptly resigned Monday.

Parrish's resignation letter was received and accepted by the executive committee of the board of governors led by Alan Layton, chairman, and Bill Nelson and Bill Paulos, vice chairmen.Parrish's four-paragraph letter to the chamber board said: "Due to personal and professional difficulties which inhibit my ability to adequately and effectively lead the chamber, I have made a decision to step aside for the betterment of the organization."

Parrish could not be reached for comment at home Monday or Tuesday.

Paulos, of The Summit Group, said Tuesday that he could not elaborate on Parrish's reasons for resigning, but he said a number of issues were involved.

"We've been engaged for weeks with Stan in pretty detailed conversations about chamber business . . .," Paulos said. "There were a number of issues that took place that led to our discussions and that led to Stan's resignation."

Paulos said he would not discuss anything related to Parrish's personal life or reports that Parrish had some kind of problem with another chamber staff member.

Layton, of Layton Construction, said Tuesday that several people called him to ask about various rumors - including some Layton termed "ugly" - regarding the resignation, but executive committee members decided not to discuss the matter.

"He has some personal challenges, and we were aware of them and we discussed them with him," Layton said. "They're his challenges. They're personal. We'll respect that and offer him the privacy of his personal life. . . . We'd just like to end it on as good a note as we can."

Layton said many chamber staff members were surprised by the announcement, and he expects some will face a difficult transition. But he said he does not expect other staff changes, and Paulos said chamber executives had a positive meeting with the staff on Monday.

"I think the staff is happy with the opportunity to pull back together and move forward," Paulos said.

Until a replacement can be named, Mark Stromberg, who finished a one-year term as board chairman June 30, will be acting president of the chamber. A nominating committee will be formed at the board's July 28 meeting to find a replacement.

Paulos said he expects that committee to act quickly and to conduct an extensive search for a new chamber leader.

"When Stan was named, it took about nine months to get that job done," he said. "I can guarantee you it's not going to take anywhere near that long (this time). . . . There are a number of very capable people in this community and capable chamber executives around the country who would love to come to a market like Salt Lake City."

In his resignation letter, Parrish said: "I express my appreciation to staff members of the chamber for their diligence and dedication to our members. They are to be commended for making the chamber such a successful organization. Equally, it has been my privilege to associate with the finest business men and women in the city and wish them continue success in all their pursuits."

Parrish, former president of Standard Communications Inc. and chairman of the Utah Republican Party, became chamber president March 1, 1996. He replaced Fred S. Ball, who resigned Jan. 1, 1996, after 25 years as president.

Parrish worked for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, worked for the Small Business Administration, was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress and from May 1989 to October 1992 was executive director of the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development.