You’d think that having the Second Bush First Family living here for a couple of years, everyone would have settled back and gotten used to it. No matter how laid back W and Laura try to be, there’s still a twinge of “OMG, it’s them!”
That was the case last Wednesday at Lisa and Kenny Troutt‘s grand estate for the sponsors of the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award that will be presented to Trevor Rees-Jones this Wednesday. Thanks to event chair Jim Francis, Laura (the 2008 recipient of the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award) and former President George W. Bush were the honorary chairs.
Needless to say, the Troutts’ mansion was perfect and the dining room table full of shrimps, desserts and other goodies was beyond incredibly enticing.
But it went practically untouched. Everyone was too preoccupied with the arrival of the honorary chair.
Everyone had on their best bib and tucker and even the best known of the bold face types like Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt, Gina and Scott Ginsburg, Allie Beth and Pierce Allman, Cynthia and David Krause, Toni Brinker, Methodist Health System Chairman of the Board John Ford and Methodist Health System President/CEO Steve Mansfield wore name tags.
While waiting for “the eagle” to land with his flock of Secret Service types, the troops gathered including the entire family of former Mayor Bob Folsom, including wife Margaret Folsom, Sharon and Steve Folsom (Chairman of the Methodist Healthcare Foundation), Debbie and Don Jarma and Diane and Robert Frank.
Then word passed through the crowd that “the eagle” had indeed landed, or rather pulled up in the Troutts’ circular driveway.
Instead of marching on in and saying “Howdy,” George sans Laura waited his turn in the check-in line. He seemed so at ease, while all around him smiled nervously trying to make chit-chat. The photographers’ flashes went off like Fourth of July fireworks. Didn’t faze him.
He spotted Trevor and his wife Jan, who got a big Texas hug. Then across the way he moved toward Kenny and then his bud Jim Francis. All the time he graciously handled folks introducing themselves and wanting to have their pictures taken with him. Upon advice from veterans of the party circuit and photographers, name tags were quickly hidden. A favorite is to slap it on the back of your spouse or your own back hip. It should be noted that one quick way to spot Secret Service at such gatherings is the lack of name tags and smiles. And, no, W doesn’t wear a name tag either. Did you really think he did?
Almost on schedule, a microphone was placed in front of the trio of musicians who had taken a break. Host Kenny was the first to welcome the group and introduce Honorary Chair/President Bush.
Kenny admitted that he had suffered a case of the jitters in meeting with the former president about the upcoming gala. Everyone related perfectly to that condition.
When the former president addressed the group, he told them that in meeting with Kenny, “I wasn’t nervous at all. If you were nervous, I couldn’t tell.” In honoring Trevor, he said, “Trevor and Jan are good people. . . There’s an old admonition, ‘To much is given, much is required.’ That’s what I think makes Dallas a unique place and that’s what makes Trevor and Jan unique people.”
He also apologized for Laura’s absence, but she “had to give a speech for money today. So, I said, ‘Baby, keep speaking and don’t spend.'” On a more serious note, he reminded the group of all the good works resulting from the Methodist Health System Foundation and encouraged all to contribute if they hadn’t already.
Methodist Health System Foundation President/CEO April Chamberlain was next up to bat and joined the chorus of nervous Nellies when it came to presidential doings. She then rose to the occasion and graciously and briefly told the background of the Folsom Award and introduced the Folsom family. She added that in accordance with the Rees-Jones Foundation, proceeds from the fundraiser would go to the Pastoral Care Ministries of Methodist Health System, which provided more than 130,000 pastoral visits in 2010 and $82.6 million in uncompensated charity care.
It was then time for Jim Francis, whom April described as counselor to presidents and others, to talk. He started off with, “I think you’ve had enough speeches, so I’ll be brief.” After thanking and complimenting the key players, he went to the heart of the matter. “I also want to thank all of you because of your generosity,
we will be way in excess of a million dollars for this dinner.” He then went on to thank worker bees Joy Duncan and April.
Going back in time Jim recalled how in 1948, Algur Meadows “formed the Meadows Foundation with his first endowment. The Meadows Foundation over the next 63 years has become the largest private foundation in the state of Texas with some $850 million of assets. I think everyone in this room knows all the wonderful things that the Meadows Foundation has done year in and year out not only for this community but for the state of Texas. About four-and-a-half-years ago, Trevor and Jan endowed a private foundation and the day they signed the documents they were the second largest private foundation in the state of Texas. And, Lord only knows what they’re going to be able to get done in the next 63 years is profound, very magnanimous and something for all of us to admire.”
With that Trevor was at the mike. With his Texas accent, he thanked the Methodist organization for this recognition since he was a Presbyterian. Then he thanked individuals and the group as a whole. He went on to acknowledge the “wonderful storied career at SMU” and “moved the mark higher” in the rest of his life. . . To be the recipient of the Bob Folsom Award this year is a great honor to me.”
The program was quickly over and the photographers staged their shots of the VIP’s. After a few more chats with guests, the former president motioned to his entourage it was time to head out. As he walked to the door, he stopped to talk with the three ladies who had patiently checked everyone in. That in itself may not have seemed like a big deal, but it was just that for the trio. Then he was gone.
Then the guests descended upon the dining room like starved freshmen football players. After such an occasion, they had worked up a major appetite.
Just a reminder: This event is full of surprises. Like last year’s honoree was Pat and Emmitt Smith. At the last minute Event Chairs Troy Aikman and Daryl “Moose” Johnston were pulled away on business and in their place a surprise speaker in ball cap and jacket appeared unannounced in the back of the room. It was Mark Cuban, who scored a major hit.
Jim Francis promised the group that there would be a couple of real surprises and the man has never been known to understate a situation. So, if you have your tickets, pick out your best “elegant business attire.” If you haven’t gotten your tickets, hustle to get ‘em.