Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award Dinner Honors And Ribs Trevor Rees-Jones With A Little Help From Karl Rove

OK, it’s confession time. Way back when Dallas phone numbers started with Lakeside and Emerson, students suffered miserably in schools without air conditioning and co-eds wore Villager skirts, MSC’s Queenie was attending high school with a youngster named Trevor Rees-Jones. He was adorable but he was a year or two younger than Queenie. Still his smile and personality were major league eye-catchers. Everybody liked the guy because he was nice and hardworking despite being cool and cute.

Jan Rees-Jones

Confession time ended. Now fast forward a few decades to last Wednesday’s Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award dinner honoring that same Trevor with his wife Jan at his side in the grand ballroom of the Hilton Anatole.

Avery Johnson and Trevor Rees-Jones

Even before the dinner benefiting the Methodist Health System Foundation started, it was obvious that the 700 were all buddies (Ruth and Ken Alschuler, Margaret and Lester Keliher, Harriet Miers, Allie Beth and Pierce Allman, Gerald Turner Toni Brinker, James Huffines, Anita and Jim Oberwetter, Bobby Lyle, Gina and Scott Ginsburg, Lisa and Kenny Troutt to name just a few) of Trevor and supporters of the Foundation. The New Jersey Nets’ Avery Johnson and wife Cassandra flew in just for the event saying, “Trevor is one of my top three friends. We were in California vacationing together.”

Even other Dallas health care facilities were well represented including Parkland’s Dr. Ron Anderson, who explained that Trevor had given Parkland $25 million at the very start of the new-hospital campaign: “He’s investing to help us achieve excellence.”

Karl Rove

Running right on schedule despite all the guests wanting to stand up and chat, Methodist Health System Foundation President/CEO April Box Chamberlain and her staff knew this crowd didn’t wishy-washy around. Smartly they got things started with Event Chair Jim Francis welcoming the crowd and introducing the “surprise” guest emcee — Karl Rove, who described Trevor as a true Texan and a true icon. “Trevor is what servant leadership is all about.”

Trevor Rees-Jones

Adding some humor in, Rove-style, he told the crowd there was no truth to the rumor that his former boss, former President George W. Bush, was MIA because he wasn’t getting the Folsom award, which Laura Bush had received in 2008. According to Rover, the real reason was because Trevor “beats George at mountain biking — he rides the president’ sorry a-s into the ground every time.”

The crowd enjoyed that one and rewarded the joke with laughter.

Rove then introduced April, who saluted not only Trevor and Jan but also Jim saying that “leaders from around the world seek Jim Francis’ advice.” Thanks to his efforts and the selection of Trevor, the evening’s dinner had raised over $1 million with just dinner and no silent auction, no raffle, no live auction. April went on to say that according to Trevor’s and Jan’s wishes, the proceeds from the evening would go to Methodist’s Pastoral Care Ministries.

Debbie Francis

Rove was back at the podium and took a dig at Jim’s wife — “The beautiful, the compassionate, the incredibly judgmentally-challenged Debbie Francis.” Debbie looked embarrassed, while Jim, Jan, Trevor and the rest of the 700 laughed.

Following the invocation by Highland Park Presbyterian’s Rev. R. Ron Scates, Rove instructed the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your dinner tonight, which Jim instructed will be catered by Goff’s Hamburgers.”

(Editor’s note: Goff’s is owned and operated by Jimmy Francis, Debbie’s and Jim’s son.)

To the delight of Trevor and the rest of the guests, Randy Rogers performed and a delicious dinner was served of roasted and shrimp chowder en croute, grilled filet of beef served with wilted spinach, cabernet sauvignon wild mushroom sauce, scalloped potatoes and baby fall vegetables with haricot vert and carrots. Topping the dinner was a Texas-sized pecan crusted vanilla ice cream ball smothered in hot fudge sauce. Later it was discovered that that is Trevor’s favorite dessert. . .”Hope you liked it!” he said.

Ross Perot Jr.

But schedules had to be kept and guests had hardly slurped the chocolate sauce off their plates before Methodist Health System President/CEO Stephen Mansfield thanked all for attending. He was followed by a video with tributes to Trevor from former President George H.W. Bush, Avery, Jan, T. Boone Pickens (“the only thing I can say a little negative about Trevor is, he’s a lawyer”), Ross Perot Jr., Trevor’s old roommate and Highland Park classmate Blair Mercer and others.

How does one follow up a video like that? Trevor came to the podium and said to all who appeared in the video, “Be sure to pick up your $20 envelopes at the back with your name on it.” Then he went on to say that the video had been overpowering and dropped a couple more Trevor comments like:

  • “I always wanted to say, hold your applause until the end … That feels handsome and powerful!”
  • Speaking of biking, he said he wanted to correct Rove; he can’t beat Bush on the single track because of the Secret Service, but “on the straightaway, in a sprint, I get him. Don’t remind him of that, though, cuz it’s a sore subject.”
  • Recognizing Jim Francis’ ability to raise funds, he joked that, “You’re light in the wallet after getting a visit from Jim Francis.”

But Trevor seriously addressed the importance of the award for him, since he had long admired former Mayor Folsom. He also told how impressed he’d been to learn of all the charitable work that Methodist Health System did in the community.  Lifting a quote from the Bible, “To whom much is given, much is required,” Trevor added with a wink in his eye directed to his pastor, “See, Ron, I do open the Bible. Got ‘nother one in here, too!”

Gina Ginsburg with duck call

Ending the evening on a high note, literally, the audience was told that the little wood and metal “sticks” at their places were in honor of Trevor’s love of hunting — a theme that ran throughout the evening. With that duck calls rang through the Anatole and over $1 million was spread throughout the pastoral efforts of Methodist Health Systems Foundation.