February 7 Round Robin: A.W.A.R.E, New Friends New Life, Family Gateway, WaterTower Theatre And Junior League Of Dallas

Once again Thursday turned out to be the workout night for the fundraising powerhouses throughout the North Texas area. Some folks found themselves hustling from one event to another and apologizing for not making it to a third one.

A.W.A.R.E. Kick-off Party

Jack Broyles and Jim Hammond

Jack Broyles and Jim Hammond

There’s a real momentum driving this year’s A.W.A.R.E. luncheon. Unfortunately, the inspiration is being derived from the loss of loved ones. This point was very apparent at the A.W.A.R.E. kick-off party at Pat Villareal‘s home in Preston Hollow for about 80 guests including Ramona Jones, Kim Gatlin, Jack Broyles and Carmaleta Whiteley. Yes, everyone was still reeling from the death of planned-for-keynote-speaker and much-loved Larry “JR” Hagman, who died in November. Luckily, A.W.A.R.E. President Kay Hammond and Luncheon Chair Laurie Kidder were able to arrange for Larry’s screen-wife Linda Gray to take over the role at the luncheon. Couldn’t have been a better choice. Not only

Laurie Kidder and Kay Hammond

Laurie Kidder and Kay Hammond

was Linda very aware of Larry’s involvement with Alzheimer’s (his wife Maj suffers from the disease), but Linda’s mother also is an Alzheimer’s victim. Laurie’s goal is to have 1,000 guests at the Hilton Anatole on Friday, April 5, to raise funds. What some guests at the kick-off party did not realize was that Pat lost her mother to Alzheimer’s just two weeks ago.

New Friends, New Life

Pat Schenkel and Katie Pedigo

Pat Schenkel and Katie Pedigo

Over in the Park Cities, Lana and Barry Andrews opened up their new home for the kick-off party for the New Friends New Life‘s 10th Annual WINGS luncheon. Raising funds to assist women trapped in the sex trade, the luncheon is turning out to be a mother-daughter undertaking. First, there’s the speaker for the Friday, April 12 luncheon at the Hyatt Regency. It’s Barbara Pierce Bush. Introducing her will be her mom/former First Lady Laura Bush. According to Katie Pedigo, grandest mother/former First Lady Barbara Bush is taping a message for the luncheon. She wanted to attend, but is keeping close to home after husband George’s recent prolonged hospital stay.

Lana Andrews and Natalie McGuire

Lana Andrews and Natalie McGuire

Another mom-dotter in the mix is Lana’s daughter Natalie McGuire, who is honorary chairing the luncheon with her mom and helped Lana host the KO party. At one point when a photographer was trying to arrange a photo, Lana was in the backyard with Honorary Chair Allie Beth Allman taking photos of some artwork. Natalie’s call to arms got the petite Lana to conclude the photo session and tip-toe over. Why tip-toe? Well, the deck surrounding the pool is a piece of artwork in itself with a pebble-style stone pattern. While gorgeous, it’s heck on high heels requiring toe-walking. No wonder Lana had such great legs!

Nancy Ann Hunt

Nancy Ann Hunt

As 130 guests like Luncheon Chair Gina and Ken Betts, Toni Brinker, Nancy Gopez, Carol Seay, Lee Ann White and Nancy Ann Hunt and daughter Ashlee Kleinert filled the Andrews mansion, Katie reported that 35 tables had already been sold, making them more than one-third of the way to their goal of 100 tables/1,000 guests. Texas Health Resources will be the presenting sponsor for the luncheon that has come a long way in a short bit of time.

Family Gateway Dinner

Nancy Halbreich

Nancy Halbreich

It was hard to imagine cramming any more people into the Mansion’s Pavilion and Promenade for Family Gateway‘s 25th Anniversary Celebration honoring Ted Strauss, and he loved it. Far from being a roast or a teary testimonial, it turned out to be a typical Strauss affair — great food, top-tier types and memorable moments with a twinkle in the eye. The secret ingredient was the behind-the-scenes planning by Annette’s and Ted’s daughters Nancy Halbreich and Janie McGarr.

Janie McGarr

Janie McGarr

(If you just arrived at D/FW International, you need to know that Family Gateway was the brainchild of Ted’s late wife Annette, the former mayor of Dallas. While he wouldn’t take credit, he was the patient husband.)

Linda Custard

Linda Custard

Following the cocktail party upstairs, guests like Margot and Ross Perot, Brian Heflin, Cheryl and John Hall, Linda and Bill Custard, Caren Prothro, Gene Jones, Martha Ann Schneider, Lee Cullum, Roger Horchow, Hill and Renee Feinberg and Nancy Dedman found their way to their tables complete with place cards. It was a little tough getting this crowd seated. They were having way too much fun catching up and patting the honoree on the back as he tried to make his way to numero uno table with wife Sue.

Sue Strauss

Sue Strauss

Finally, all were seated and Family Gateway’s Robert Alberts welcomed the group, reporting there are 5,000 homeless children in Dallas. He then announced an ambitious goal for the program that provides shelter for homeless families — the opening of a Montessori school for homeless children and renovating the Strauss Center, among others. Eyebrows that had raised with the announcement of the 5,000 homeless children rose to hairlines with Robert’s biggest goal — the ending of child homelessness by 2017. It also provided food for conversation during dinner.

Stan Levenson, Rabbi David Stern and Jeremy Halbreich

Stan Levenson, Rabbi David Stern and Jeremy Halbreich

Following Rabbi David Stern‘s typically memorable invocation, it was dinner Mansion style (tortilla soup with chicken, avocado, cheddar cheese and tortilla strips; roasted filet mignon with Yukon gold puree , broccolini, trumpet mushrooms and cabernet jus; and chocolate imperial dark chocolate cake with vanilla crème brûlée and hazelnut crisp and vanilla ice cream). Diets were being blown.

Ralph Gorman and Faye Briggs

Ralph Gorman and Faye Briggs

Faye Briggs arrived with her entourage a couple of minutes late. Seems that daughter Pebble McKenzie was in charge of driving and missed a turn. . .  While Barbara Levenson was tableside with Patsy Donosky, husband Stan told friends that he’s starting his 46th year in the pr business. . . Ruth Altshuler, who was seated with husband Ken on the Promenade with Margaret McDermott, was asked about the recent Dallas Morning News article on her. Ruth’s response? “Tomorrow they’ll be using the paper to wrap fish.”

Ruth Altshuler

Ruth Altshuler

Following dinner, it was time for speeches. But again in typical Strauss style, they were brief and kept everyone’s attention. Actually there were just two speakers, and they went head-to-head in the upstaging department.

Mayor Mike Rawlings

Mayor Mike Rawlings

First at the podium was Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Graciously, he started off by saying, “If you didn’t buy a table, write this man a check,” pointing to Robert. Then he went on to say, “I have a lot of heroes that make this state great, people who have made the city of Dallas great, made everybody around them great. . . ” Oh, dear. Was it going to be one of those predictable tribute-style speeches? Nope. Mayor Mike then added, “. . . and Bob Strauss is one of them.” A nano moment of air being sucked in could be heard around the room. Had the mayor accidentally referred to Ted’s brother, Bob? Nope. A big old Mike grin appeared on his face as he looked at Ted, who was laughing. Then the room burst into laughter and applause.

Ross Perot Sr.

Ross Perot Sr.

He continued,

  • “We’re here to honor Bob’s younger and richer brother, Ted.”
  • Recently he saw Ted, who said, “Mike, you’re doing a wonderful job, but you’re no Annette Strauss.”
  • Ted’s grandkids nicknamed him “Poopie,” because one night came home and said, “I’m pooped.”

In closing Mayor Mike read a letter from the governor’s office praising Ted.

Ted Strauss

Ted Strauss

It was now time for Ted to acknowledge the accolades of the night. Graciously he acknowledged some of the ladies in the room, like Caroline Rose Hunt for establishing the Mansion. He then told of a letter written long ago by a woman, whose family Annette had personally taken to Family Gateway five years before. She had written the letter to Annette thanking her and telling her how she had gotten a job, that her two daughters were in school and that life was good.

At one point Ted admitted that he was having problems reading his notes because of the spotlight and the lack of light at the podium. Within seconds, Mayor Mike from his seat told Ted that he’d had a similar problem. Still finding the lighting difficult, Ted asked Mike, “Are you sure you don’t have a flashlight?” At that the towering mayor brought a cellphone up to the podium, which offered a small amount of illumination.

But Ted was not going to be upstaged yet. As the mayor/former Pizza Hut president returned to his chair, Ted said, “And your pizzas were lousy, too!” Highlights of Ted’s talk included:

  • “You will not see a gathering that will turn you on anymore than this one. I am so thrilled to be a part of it. After 88 years I’m thrilled to be a part of anything.”
  • He acknowledged the development of the Parkland/University of Texas at Southwestern complex and Kern Wildenthal. But Ted couldn’t let that go without a wink. “My last operation over there, it wasn’t a success, but they gave me a great deal on a cane.”
  • In praising Ruth Altshuler for her role in the assassination anniversary, Ted turned to the mayor and said, “I know that will be nice. Who you gonna shoot this time?”
  • In accepting a plaque from Robert, Ted said, “We don’t need another plaque. We need a quarterback!”
Micki Rawlings

Micki Rawlings

Robert then announced the naming of the organization’s complex, the “Theodore H. Strauss Gateway Apartments.” Once again the mischievous Ted wasn’t about to miss an opportunity for levity. He said, “I’ve never enjoyed myself like I have the last 12 years,” due to “a wonderful lady named Sue.” Then he looked at his wife, who was seated next to Micki Rawlings, and said, “Maybe you and I will go over to the Gateway Apartments!” It was indeed a night to be remembered. Perhaps not the one that Robert had planned, but it was one that was typical of Ted Strauss — deliciously mischievous with old friends for a great cause.

 WaterTower Gala Patron Party

Not all the fun(d)raising was taking place in Dallas proper. Heck, no! Those folks in Addison know how to use a Thursday night for honoring patrons. This report was filed from Barbara and Don Daseke‘s home

Barbara Bigham, Joyce Sanders, April Bosworth, Debbie Staggs, Elizabeth Fratantuono, Mark Brooks, Corky Pledger, Maureen Anderson, Katie Myatt, Terry Martin and Barbara Daseke.*

Barbara Bigham, Joyce Sanders, April Bosworth, Debbie Staggs, Elizabeth Fratantuono, Mark Brooks, Corky Pledger, Maureen Anderson, Katie Myatt, Terry Martin and Barbara Daseke.*

“More than 80 people attended WaterTower Theatre’s Spotlight Gala 2013 Patron Party catered by Doug Boster Catering with florals by Todd Events and music by jazz/blues combo, the Tu-Tones. The cocktail party paid tribute to the more than 40 underwriters who are supporting this year’s fundraising Gala. VIPs in attendance included political types like Addison Mayor Todd Meier, council members Bruce Arfsten, Blake Clemens, Janelle Moore, Margie Gunther and Chris D’Francisco.  Other guests included Barbara and Bob Bigham, Producing Artistic Director Terry Martin, Karol Omlor, Chris Miller, Joyce Sanders and Bob Lebovitz, Live and Silent Auction Chair April Bosworth and Cuisine Chair Corky Pledger. “Barbara, who is chairing the Saturday, February 16th Gala at the Addison Conference Center, thanked all of the underwriters who will raise more than $125,000 in support of WaterTower Theatre’s artistic and education programs this year. April gave a preview presentation of some of the live auction items including a wine trip to Napa/Sonoma Valley, a private tour of the White House and Capital buildings and a New York theatre trip among many more exclusive items.”

Junior League of Dallas

As further proof of the expanding party room of Dallas, the Junior League of Dallas was feted at Gary Riggs Home Interiors for the unveiling of the GrandLuxe Magazine. And what exactly was the connection? Perhaps the upcoming JLD ball? According to this field report,

Kelley Robinson and Jackie Converse**

Kelley Robinson and Jackie Converse**

“Gary Riggs Home Interiors, Alpha Road Location, provided a lovely backdrop to unveil the February issue of GrandLuxe Magazine with JLD President Aimee Griffiths and Ball Chair Bunny Cotten on the cover (along with an interesting and informative article about Junior League of Dallas inside the magazine). Before the big unveiling, Tim Miller, president of GrandLuxe, welcomed guests and made introductions. Afterwards, husband and wife team, violinist Gary Levinson and pianist Daredian Baya Kakouberi, both with the Blue Candlelight Music Series, presented two moving pieces from “Schindler’s List” and “Scent of a Woman.” Villa O Restaurant catered the event and served delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails to the guests during the evening.”

* Photo by Buddy Frazer
** Photo provided by the Junior League of Dallas