A Passing: Peter Pauls Stewart

The early ’60s were a turning point in Dallas. While many may immediately think of the death of President John F. Kennedy, there were other developments taking place around that time that made the Dallas leadership examine its mission within the world community. There was Erik Jonsson planting the seeds for an international airport between Dallas and Fort Worth. There was George Underwood Jr. developing Richardson. There was Ray Nasher building NorthPark Center across from a cow pasture. And then there was 55-year-old businessman Peter Pauls Stewart. His vision took place on a fishing trip in 1962. It was perhaps not what most would have expected from a World War II vet who was spearheading the development of North Texas: It was to build a facility for all people to celebrate gratitude and thanksgiving.

Like any great undertaking, his project required time, talent and tenacity.

Following the assassination, the city was thrown into a state of guilt, confusion and grief. The site of the shooting of the president and his alleged assassin cast a pall over downtown Dallas. Perhaps it was this shadow that spurred Stewart to recruit local leaders Joe Neuhoff, Julius Schepps and John Stemmons in creating the Thanks-Giving Foundation in 1964 for Dallas’ interfaith oasis for gratitude — Thanks-Giving Square.

Taking more than 10 years to complete, Stewart’s dream child was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day 1976 with its spiral chapel, walkways and fountains on a triangular park in the center of the Central Business District.

Over the years, the 3.5-acre park was visited by those seeking solace as well as U.S. presidents, the Dalai Lama, Rosa Parks and Pope Benedict XVI, when he was a cardinal.

Since that dedication in 1976, the profile of downtown Dallas has changed. Yesterday’s skyscrapers have been replaced by taller monuments to commerce; decaying buildings have been transformed into luxury residences; the streets have become jammed with vehicles; and parades have rallied for celebrations and protest.

Still, Thanks-Giving Square has been resolute in Stewart’s mission to provide a sanctuary for all people. Following the July 7 shooting of five officers in downtown Dallas, leaders from all walks of life came together at Thanks-Giving Square to heal and grieve.

With the death Wednesday of 97-year-old Stewart, the grief of this loss will be lessened knowing that his legacy will stand strong for future generations to come together at Thanks-Giving Square.

On Tuesday at 11 a.m., services will be held at St. Michael and All Angels.

A Passing: Rita Crocker Bass Clements

Rita Clements (File photo)

Whenever Rita Crocker Bass Clements took on a task, she surpassed the rule of the day. Whether it was cutting cattle on a ranch, raising four children, chairing North Texas’ most successful fundraising efforts, rising through the political ranks to national recognition or serving as First Lady of Texas, her DNA had the leadership factor.

Born on October 30, 1931, during the Great Depression in Newton, Kansas, she was 11 when her family moved to Texas and she attended The Hockaday School, when school founder Miss Ela Hockaday still ruled the roost at the school located at Greenville and Belmont.

After graduation she attended Wellesley College and met and married recent Yale graduate Dick Bass. During their 22-year marriage, Rita became the mother of four (Bonnie Bass Smith, Barbara Bass Moroney, Jim Bass and Dan Bass), graduated with honors from the University of Texas and moved to Dallas, where she got involved in community activities. It was during this time that the petite brunette’s skills as a leader blossomed, serving as president of the Junior League of Dallas, founding director of the O’Donnell Foundation and, in 1968, chairing the Crystal Charity Ball that took place at the Statler Hilton, where legendary designer Jed Mace decorated the room with “ceiling high, silk trees and snowflake garlands” and the Lester Lanin Band performed for 830 guests.

She also became more than interested in politics. Having volunteered in Dwight Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign for president, her involvement grew to such a point that she became Dallas County Precinct Chairman for the Republican Party, state co-chair for the Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964 and eventually a Republican National Committee member in 1973.

In the meantime, oilman Bill Clements was entering the world of politics. Under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, he served as Deputy Secretary of Defense. This interest in the world of politics brought Rita and Bill together, resulting in their 1975 marriage.

Four years later, when Bill was first elected governor of Texas (he served two non-contiguous terms, from 1979-1983 and 1987-1991), Rita was more than up for the job as First Lady of Texas. In addition to her political acumen, the Crystal Charity Ball Hall of Famer brought her good taste and concern for the state’s well-being to the role by becoming a driving force in the beautification of Texas and restoring the Governor’s Mansion with the help of Jed Mace. As she put it, “Even though it’s open five days a week, it’s nonetheless a home for us and for all Texans.”

For 36 years, Rita and Bill were a team, both personally and politically. But it wasn’t always easy being in the political ring and spotlight. Rita stood by her man through some very daunting times. When he ran for re-election in 1982, he lost to Mark White. But Bill rebounded and made a successful run in 1987, replacing White. It was also in that year that Bill’s role in the SMU football player pay-off that led to the university’s “Death Penalty” came to light. She also saw Bill through the tragic murder of his son, Gill Clements.  

The good times trumped the challenging ones, though. Sure, there were awards, board positions and grandchildren, but Rita and Bill always stayed firm in their giving back to the North Texas community that they called home. In 2009 they gave a whopping $100M to UT Southwestern Medical Center, where the 12-story William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital stands today.

Following Bill’s death in 2011 at the age of 94, Rita’s activities slowed down due to age and being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But when she did make an appearance, she was treated like a rock star.

Rita Clements with JLD past presidents File photo

When the Junior League of Dallas celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2011 at a Brook Hollow luncheon, a group photo was taken of the past JLD presidents. Unfortunately, Rita arrived just seconds after the photo had been taken. There was no hesitation. The consensus was to regroup and put her front row center in the place of honor with Lyda Hill by her side. Later Lyda recalled how Rita had been “her mentor and encouraged her to take a Dale Carnegie course, resulting in Lyda’s reporting, ‘Now, if there are two or more people, I’m ready to speak.’”

Rita’s death Saturday drew to an end a life that felt right at home in a saddle, knocking on the door for votes, presiding over the Governor’s Mansion private and public activities, raising a family, journeying through the mine field of politics, or inspiring a future philanthropist with wisdom and a touch of humor.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, January 11, at St. Michael And All Angels Church at 11 a.m.

The Passing Of The Great And Little Known Of 2017

On the eve of 2018, it would be impossible to move ahead without recalling and honoring those whose life journeys ended in 2017. Their kindness, generosity and personalities have served as an inspiration for their families, friends and strangers in the past and will continue through the years to come. Some were well-known throughout North Texas; others were only known to those within their immediate sphere of influence.

While we regret the loss of these remarkable lives, we are grateful to have had them in North Texas and the legacy they have bequeathed.

Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler (File photo)

Nancy Ann Smith Wynne Chandler (File photo)

Eli (File photo)

Al Hill Jr. (File photo)

  • Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler
  • Nancy Ann Smith Wynne Chandler
  • Eli
  • Robert S. Folsom
  • E.G. Hamilton
  • Al Hill Jr.

Shelly Katz (File photo)

Cherri Oakley (File photo)

Jan Pruitt (File photo)

Liener Temerlin (File photo)

  • Shelly Katz
  • Don Malouf
  • Cherri Oakley
  • Jan Pruitt
  • Liener Temerlin

A Passing: Nancy Ann Smith Wynne Chandler

The Idlewild Club went dark during World War II. But in 1946, it came alive again with a dozen young debutantes. One of them was Nancy Ann Smith. Five years after “bowing” to Dallas society, she attended a charity ball at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Returning to Dallas, she realized that Dallas needed a similar fundraiser for Dallas children. In her suitcase was a sketch of a little girl that would become the symbol for her brainchild.

Nancy Ann Smith Wynne Chandler*

Pretty soon she gathered together a posse of gal/pals like Claire Ownby Benners, Mildred Nettle Bickel, Betty Butler, Katherine Callaway, Sally Carney, Phyllis Carter, Sally Otis Cassidy, Jo Cherry, Jo Ann Holland, Margaret Kervin, Ann O’Donnell, Neil Orand, Margaret Otis, Alma Ramsden, Marilyn Ray, Sharon Simons, Ann Thompson and Dale Wigley to be the founding members of her project — Crystal Charity Ball.

Within a year, Nancy and her ladies had become a force to be reckoned with. She got Sharon Simons’ husband, Pollard Simons, to provide office space at his Fine Arts Gallery on Cedar Springs; created an advisory board including Joe Lambert, Nancy Hamon and Margaret Hunt Hill; got a permit from the Better Business Bureau; and put together an ultra-formal ball at the Baker Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom on Saturday, December 6, 1952, for 350 with tickets going for a hefty $25 per person.

Nancy had put together a recipe of panache, glitz and glamour that put the event on the map nationally. Unlike the hoop-la of “Giant’s” portrayal of Texas big events, this one was sleek, elegant, intimate and fun. With celebrity pianist Hoagy Carmichael entertaining and Stanley Marcus and actors Greer Garson and Dan Dailey drawing names for the three door prizes, one of the highlights was the midnight drop of ceiling balloons containing prize-winning numbers and a late-night supper. Another was Dailey’s performing.

Still Nancy’s dad, Howell Smith, wasn’t certain that his little girl’s project would work. The country was still recovering from the war and, after all, start-up ventures were always risky. Why he even offered to cover expenses if a profit wasn’t made.

He needn’t have worried. That very first CCB sold out and provided a whopping $17,730 for The Dallas Polio Chapter. Remember this was back in 1952, when cars were selling for $1,700 and gas went for 20 cents.

From the start, it was a hands-on effort. The CCB office was closed, so the committee could create the decorations and entertainment rehearsals. According to the late Dale Wigley, “In those days we had to work hard for the money… I mean really scrounging! Making $15,000 was a big deal, engaging our efforts all year long. But we certainly did put the ball on the map, didn’t we?”

The next year more than 750 attended with guests arriving from New York, California and Europe for the ball that Nancy would chair once again. This time it resulted in an even larger check for the Children’s Development Center, a training school for children with emotional and mental challenges.

Over the years, CCB grew in size of membership (100) and guests (1,500), activities (10 Best Dressed Fashion Show), beneficiaries, corporate involvement, prestige and reputation. It was no longer a debutante’s dream. It was the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval in fundraising circles, as well as a generous benefactor.  

As for Nancy, the 1950s were also a turning point for her personally. The beautiful blonde married Dr. Buck J. Wynne and had two children, Howell Wynne and Nancy Wynne Saustad. Following his death in 1979, she was married to World War II hero Alfred Chandler in 1981 until his death in 2013. But all the while she watched her little project provide more than $131,244,558 for thousands and thousands of children.

It was announced that Nancy died Friday, December 15, having celebrated her 93rd birthday on December 3. But in the decades to come, her legacy will live on through her “brainchild” helping Dallas children.

Services are pending at this time with Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home.

* Photo provided by Crystal Charity Ball

A Passing: Shelly Katz

Back in the early 1970s, international travel was a big deal with Dallas only having one airport — Love Field; photographers were shooting cameras with film; and less than a half dozen television channels were available.

The late Stanley Marcus had come up with a brilliant idea to shore up the business that tended to go downward in October — Fortnight. Each year he and his staff would turn the downtown Neiman Marcus into a luxurious mini-version of a far-away country — Italy, France, England, etc. In addition to bringing in celebrities like Sophia Loren and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., dignitaries like Lord Mountbatten and designers like Gina Frattini and Hanae Mori, one of the highlights was the fundraising Fortnight Gala that was held at the Fairmont on the first Saturday of the two-week showcase.

It was in 1974 that Japan was the country in the spotlight and headlining the Gala was legendary comedian Jack Benny. A young society writer covering the event stood in the back of the ballroom, when she started talking with a handsome gentleman with a New York accent. The two of them hit it off. He asked if she would like to meet “Jack.” It turned out that he was Irving Fein, Benny’s agent, and the comedian was warming up in a room down the hall. Thrilled at the idea of meeting the star, she didn’t hesitate.

Shelly Katz*

Overhearing the conversation between the two was a freelance photographer, who was short in stature but long on his ability to get “the shot.” His name was Shelly Katz and for local newspaper photographers, the bearded photographer was their nemesis because he was game to get “the shot” for national publications and wire services. Perhaps it was because he was lacking in height that he always managed to get that unique shot that made the final cut.

Like a bloodhound sensing prey, Shelly joined the twosome as if he were part of the young writer’s team. She didn’t mind. She liked Shelly and didn’t see any harm in his tagging along.

As they entered the room filled with Neiman Marcus execs, there was a conversation going on between Benny and his valet. The performer had been practicing with his violin, and for some reason his fingers and arms just didn’t seem right. The valet suggested that Benny was exaggerating the problem or perhaps there was something wrong with the violin. Benny protested. There was something definitely not right, and it was not the instrument.

Now, it just so happened that on this night, the Gala was benefiting the local medical association, with every heavy-hitting medical expert in town seated just feet away in the ballroom. By this time the agent was totally focused on his client and had forgotten the writer and photographer, who were watching from the sidelines.

As three of the area’s top doctors in tuxedos were brought into the room, Shelly saw an opportunity. He knew there was no way he was going to take a photo and blow his cover. But he spotted something in the writer’s hand — a small tape recorder. Quickly, he grabbed it, pushed the record button and placed it on the table near Benny. No one noticed the move. Their eyes were all on the doctor who was now seated directly in front of Benny and holding his hands.

The doctor said, “Mr. Benny, would you please say, ‘Round the rock ran the red rabbit’?” Silence filled the room. Benny’s eyes grew, as he looked at the doctor in a state of bewilderment. All breathing seemed to stop in the room. Had he had a stroke? Then looking up at the valet, Benny said, “Can you believe him? He wants me to say, ‘Round the rock ran the red rabbit.’” Immediately, the room that had been filled with anxiety burst into laughter.  

But the doctors still weren’t all that pleased and recommended his not going on stage. Despite protests, Benny acquiesced and was escorted to his suite with doctors on both sides. Before following the group down the hallway, Shelly handed the recorder to the writer with a smile. He had captured the story for her.

Benny would be dead two months later from pancreatic cancer. On the other hand, Shelly would continue on getting stories for Life, Time, People Weekly and other publications. When the world of digital photography and personal computers arrived on the scene, Shelly immediately jumped on board, “working closely with various manufacturers in developing electronic photo gathering systems as well as consulting with ABC-TV, CBS-TV and Showtime Network.”

The New York Times reported in 1991 how, 11 years earlier, “Time asked him to find a way of producing ‘clearer and cleaner’ electronic still images of a NASA space mission than were possible from shooting off a television monitor. He and NASA scientists worked out a system using available technology to get an image directly on tape as it was being shown on a monitor.”

On Friday, December 15, Shelly died at the age of 75, leaving behind a much-loved son, Andrew Katz, and a priceless collection of images from his 64-year relationship with photography. His funeral will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 19, at DFW National Cemetery.

* Photo courtesy of Andrew Katz

A Passing: Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler

Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler (File photo)

Perhaps it was just selfish, but no one ever thought Dallas would be without Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler. She exemplified the city with her energy, determination, humor and ability to rise above loss. That’s why her death Friday night will cause many to recall their favorite stories about “their Ruth.”

There won’t be many who will remember the little girl who started life in 1924 on Swiss Avenue. Five years later when the Great Depression threw the country into a financial nightmare, her family’s resources protected her and her two brothers (Carr Collins II and Jim Collins) from the poverty that ravaged others.

At the age of 21, she was widowed when her first husband’s plane was shot down during World War II. A couple of years later she met and married her second husband Charles Sharp. Together they made a striking couple and their marriage of 40 years would produce three children (Sally, Stanton and Susan). It would also test the part in the wedding vows — “in sickness and health” — when Charles was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Ruth Altshuler and Susan Sharp (File photo)

It was during their marriage that she joined the Junior League and took on a lifelong mission to support the nonprofit sector including the Crystal Charity Ball, SMU, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Dallas County Medical Society, The Salvation Army DFW, Susan G. Komen, Dallas Summer Musicals, North Texas Giving Day, Retina Foundation of the Southwest, Family Gateway, I Stand For Parkland, Laura Bush’s Foundation for America’s Libraries and countless others. 

In 1963 both the 39-year-old Ruth and the city of Dallas faced a turning point that would determine the city’s fate when President John F. Kennedy was killed in downtown Dallas. Overnight the city became internationally synonymous with hatred. But eventually the city rebounded, thanks to the leadership of the late Mayor Erik Jonsson and others including Ruth, who was on the grand jury that indicted Jack Ruby the day after he killed Lee Harvey Oswald.

The following years were indeed challenging on a personal level as well for Ruth with Charles’ disease progressing until his death in 1984. Still she carried on, juggling her family’s needs and her community involvement.

Ruth and Ken Altshuler (File photo)

With the children grown and, widowed once again, Ruth threw herself into helping others. Eventually, she found the perfect partner in Dr. Ken Altshuler, who shared her sense of humor and her commitment to others. Just this past Tuesday, they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.

True to form, Ruth was always a magnet for attracting people. Whether it was U.S. Presidents (four of them to be exact — Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George Bush and Barack Obama), movie stars like Ginger Rogers and Sophia Loren, noted intellectuals like David McCullough or just a child in need, Ruth treated all the same with appreciation and that legendary quick wit.

For instance, at the 2014 Callier Center for Communications Disorders luncheon when she presented the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Cares Award to her longtime friend Sara Martineau, she “admitted that her own grandchildren had held ‘an intervention,’ because no matter what they said, their grandmother would say, ‘What?’ She then reported that in her own household, she and husband Ken constantly exchange, ‘What?’ As Ken choked hearing Ruth tell the group of their personal experience, Ruth admitted that Ken had already gotten a hearing aid and she had ordered one.”

In the days, weeks and years ahead, it’s going to be difficult to imagine a world without Ruth. But on the other hand, if one just looks around, they’ll see her in the programs, buildings and people that have benefited from a life well lived.

According to The Dallas Morning News, a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Highland Park United Methodist Church, 3300 Mockingbird Lane. A reception will follow at the Umphrey Lee Center at SMU in the Margaret Mack Ballroom. Both will be open to the public.

A Passing: Al Hill Jr.

The tapestry of Al Hill Jr.’s life was one of many threads, colors and textures.  

Al Hill Jr. (File photo)

For many young people, Al was the behind-the-scenes patriarch of Highland Park Village and a very generous and supportive philanthropist. As one person told a new nonprofit development director on how to raise funds, “Go visit Al. He’ll take the meeting and listen. If he likes what he hears, he’ll answer your prayers.”

He was easy to spot at any event. It was his wheelchair that had become a double-edged sword since his fall in 2003 that resulted in his being paralyzed from the waist down. But even that couldn’t dampen his spirits. There was always the smile, especially when he was at events with his daughters Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne.

Old-timers remember Al of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when he was just in his 20s. He and his uncle Lamar Hunt spearheaded the growth of tennis, thanks to the World Championship of Tennis. It made sense, since Al had been an ace tennis player at St. Mark’s School of Texas and Trinity University. Tennis was on the launch pad to become a major sports contender like football and baseball. And the timing couldn’t have been better for Al, Lamar and Dallas.

Those were heady days, with Dallas’ new airport making it an international player in the world of travel and such membership nightclubs as Oz on LBJ and elan at Greenville and Lovers Lane for partying it up. To do it up big, Al and Lamar brought in such names as Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Bjorn Bjorg, who could barely speak English.

But the venture into building the world of tennis wasn’t Al’s only undertaking. Being the grandson of the late H.L. and Lyda Hunt and son of the late Margaret and Al Hill Sr., he was involved in the oil business. Being the nephew of the late race-horse-loving Bunker Hunt, he developed a hands-on interest in horse racing. Being the nephew of Pumpkin Air owner Caroline Rose Hunt, he took on the charter-jet business as well.

And on the home front, he and his beautiful blonde wife, Vicki, were new parents of son Al Hill III and daughters Heather and Elisa.

But it hadn’t all been wonderful for Al. There was the divorce from Vicki, the life-changing fall from his porch in 2003, and legal issues following the death of his mother in 2007. Yet, those developments didn’t slow him down. He ended up adjusting his interests to focus on the building and restoring of Park Cities homes, as well as being a part of the purchase and redevelopment of Highland Park Village starting in 2009.

But it was in philanthropy where he shone, by putting even more of his family’s money and influence into the world of such nonprofits as Baylor Health Care System Foundation, Equest, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North Texas, Center for BrainHealth, Salvation Army of DFW Metroplex Command, Big Thought, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, The Family Place, Communities in Schools of Dallas, Callier Center for Communication Disorders, The Senior Source, Dallas Historical Society, and many others.

Saturday night, Al’s confinement to the wheelchair ended with his death at the age of 72. One can’t but suspect that he was the first one on the tennis courts the next morning in his after-life.

Our condolences to his family, friends and the countless others who have benefited from his generosity and friendship.

A Passing: Eli

Eli (File photo)

Eli worked with more patients than most doctors. You might say he was a general practitioner since his skills were limitless.  And his bedside manner was better than even Marcus Welby’s.

For a decade, Eli was the Numero Uno member of the Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy program. From his birth on March 13, 2007, there was something special about the Golden Retriever. Sure, he was like any dog if a tennis ball caught his eye. But once he arrived at any of the Baylor campuses in North Texas wearing his ID badge and bandanna, he transformed into a care provider.

By an act of the fates, Eli was able to pursue his calling with his partner Linda Marler, who was in charge of the Baylor program. Partner? Yes. Anyone could see that in Eli’s and Linda’s relationship, there was no “owner.” They were partners.

For years, Linda and Eli would daily go to “their” office on the first floor of Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation and set up schedules and work with all types of patients. In some cases, it was just to provide some comfort for a patient who missed their own dog. For others, it was helping a young person trying to regain the use of their hands after a motorcycle accident. And for still others, it was quietly putting his head in someone’s lap when they were having a bad day.

Linda Marler and Eli (File photo)

However, it was more than the patients who got the Eli treatment. Baylor staff members would greet them as they walked through the halls.  Their little office became the “must-stop-by” spot for anyone working in the building. It was never surprising to see a patient in a wheelchair roll up to the door to see how Eli was doing. The Golden Retriever greeted each visitor with a wagging tail and a smile. Yes, Eli did smile.

Alas, poor Eli had to put up with some of Linda’s silliness. She would balance everything from treats to balls on his nose to show how obedient he was. Everyone from children to the most highly educated specialist would look in amazement as he held his nose just the right way until Linda gave him the signal to release.

Eli in the center with Baylor Animal Assisted Therapy testing team (File photo)

And, of course, Eli became the rock star of the Animal Assisted Therapy program. The temperament testing team considered Eli not to be a dog, but rather one of the testers. When new dogs would be tested for the program that was considered one of the toughest, Eli would quietly lie nearby until Linda needed him.

Eli (File photo)

As the years passed, Eli found himself training a new puppy in the Marler household. The pup’s name was Micah and, like Eli, he was a Golden Retriever. Only Micah was a bit of a cut-up. As a youngster, he got loose and was the victim of a hit-and-run. Luckily, Micah pulled through, but it is believed that Eli took him aside and told him to get his act together … which he did.

In recent years, Eli’s muzzle was turning white and he was slowing down a bit. After all, that’s why he had been training Micah to take over some of his duties. But Eli was still showing up for work with Linda and taking care of their patients and staff.

Just this past Sunday, an email was sent by Linda, “Went to ER today. Eli has hemangiosarcoma … We brought him home with us…..giving him extra love and attention. He is not eating….. it is only a matter of time.”

That time came last night, when Linda watched her partner cross the rainbow bridge.

The Wilkinson Center Is Dealing With The Loss Of Volunteer Vickie Thompson And The Need For The Can Do! Lunch To Change

Vickie Thompson (File photo)

The Wilkinson Center’s Anne Reeder admitted that the past week has been tough. Longtime Wilkinson volunteer and “Lakewood Mom” Vickie Thompson suddenly died of a heart attack following the Lakewood 4th of July parade. It was just a year or so ago that Vickie had been named Wilkinson’s volunteer of the year. Whether it was pitching in to help the community or rallying others to the need of an individual, she exemplified the very word “volunteer.”

For those who knew Vickie, it’s hard to imagine the Lakewood neighborhood and the Center being without the blonde powerhouse leading the charge.

Anne had hardly adjusted to that news when she learned that the Sixth Annual Can Do! Luncheon was going to have to change. No, not the event itself, but rather the traditional date and possibly the location. Since its inception, the fundraising luncheon spotlighting entrepreneurship had been held at the Dallas County Club on the second Tuesday of May.

But it seems the Club had recently notified event planners and members that a new policy limited events with more than 100 guests to Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays only.

Anne Reeder (File photo)

Emilynn Wilson (File photo)

What’s a girl to do?

Luckily, Anne had already arranged for fundraising force-of-nature Emilynn Wilson to chair the 2018 luncheon. It was Emilynn who hauled in a whopping $283,435 for the Callier Cares Luncheon this past April at the DCC.

Comparing notes the ladies bit the bullet and booked Monday, May 7, at the DCC.

So, white out May 8 and ink in the new date for the 2018 Can Do! Luncheon. This one is going to be tough without Vickie, but one can’t help but suspect that her spirit will fill the room.

A Passing: E.G. Hamilton

EG Hamilton (File photo)

It was just a year and a half ago that a little gentleman with thinning white hair was front and center for Neiman’s celebration of NorthPark’s 50th anniversary extravaganza at NorthPark Neiman’s. Sure, there were those in cutting-edge fashions and others whom photographers clamored to shoot, but still this elderly guest with a smart look in his eye and a smile that would have swooned the most adorable cheerleader stood out especially to those in the know.

His name was E.G. Hamilton and he was 95 years young. He was also the brainiac who designed NorthPark Center.

As Dallas Morning News architect critic Mark Lamster pointed out, when E.G. ran into a question regarding the turning of a cow pasture into a world-famous fashion plate, he would turn to the late Nasher matriarch Patsy Nasher.

It was also E.G. who deemed that the retailing oasis should be called NorthPark Center, instead of the day’s trendy “shopping mall.”

But his creative brilliance was not limited to mega-commercial structures. Back in the 1960s, he designed a breathtaking contemporary residence in Highland Park known as The Hexter House  that ironically has just been slated for demolition by its new owners.

This man, who knew Dallas greats and turned their dreams into reality, died Monday at the age of 97.

Why does one think that Patsy and Ray Nasher, Stanley Marcus and Erik Jonsson are welcoming him to redesign the heavenly compound?

A Passing: Cherri Oakley

Before the women’s movement really started with Gloria Steinem hammering at the glass ceiling, Cherri Oakley was a hungry 20-something PR person who had gumption and could scramble. So the story goes, international hairstylist Vidal Sassoon decided to open a shop in Dallas in the early 1970s. Somehow Cherri got wind of Sassoon’s plans and managed to set up a meeting with his people. There was just one hiccup. Cherri didn’t have an office. But she wasn’t going to let that quash the opportunity. The fledgling PR practitioner temporarily rented space just to take the meeting and make the right appearance. It worked! Sassoon hired her and she was off and running to become a major player in the local PR biz.

Over the years, even Cherri had to laugh about the ups and downs of PR that fluctuated with North Texas’ business climate. When times were good, Cherri had a huge conference table. When times weren’t so great, the conference table hit the road. She had more than a couple of conference tables, so they say.

There is a great story in D Magazine about Cherri’s buying three spaces at Sparkman Hillcrest for $250 each in 1985. Her plan was one for herself and one for a maybe-one-day husband. In 1986 her beloved pooch, Roberta Black, died. Cherri decided that Roberta would find her final resting place in one of the plots. Alas, the Sparkman-Hillcrest policy would not allow it — “burying animals was against Sparkman policy.” Somehow, Cherri had her way — “We had to be discreet about it, but it was a very moving funeral.”

Cherri Oakley*

As time moved on and Cherri decided a Mr. Right was not going be in her life, she decided to sell the two remaining plots back to Sparkman-Hillcrest in 2008. But, alas, Sparkman-Hillcrest would “not buy them back.” Cherri was amazed to learn that her two spots were now valued at $7,590 each.

It is with regret that Cherri may be putting to use one of her Sparkman-Hillcrest spaces due to her death on Friday, January 20. And while Cherri’s 40 years in public relations may have ended, stories — both real and tall tale — will be the stuff that will allow her to live on in the annals of Dallas marketing circles.

A memorial service for Cherri will be held at Saint Michael and All Angel’s Saint Michael Chapel on Saturday, February 4, at 11 a.m.

* Photo credit: Matt Hawthorne

A Passing: Fred Wiedemann

Dallas is filled with outstanding people. Some are above-the-fold making news frequently. Others are like delicious secrets, whose amazing life stories only come to light after their deaths. Fred Wiedemann was such a man. For those who had the opportunity to know him before his death on Friday, January 20, his 93 years of life were the stuff many just dream of.

Fred Wiedemann (File photo)

Born in New York City in 1923, he was raised on the West Coast in Hollywood. Just six months after Pearl Harbor he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, where he became a Japanese interpreter and excelled academically and in sports. Just months before his graduation in 1945, he met a fourth-generation Texan who would be the love of his life — Florence “Flo” Leachman. Following an assignment in Japan in 1947 he resigned his commission, moved to Dallas, married Flo at Highland Park United Methodist Church and undertook a 50-year career in the life insurance business.

In addition to helping establish the highly successful The Wiedemann and Johnson Companies, he was involved with the up-and-coming arts (the boards of Theater Three and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and chairman of the Dallas Civic Opera Guild) and education (chairman of the St. Marks School executive committee, trustee and chairman of the Southwest Outward Bound School and on the boards of the Colorado Outward Bound School and National Outward Bound) programs.

Fred’s passports were filled with stamps from Canada, Patagonia, Tasmania, Nepal, Chile, New Guinea, Costa Rica and Japan, to name just a few. His wanderlust knew no bounds and he was eager to share the experiences. And, those trips weren’t just bus tours of the local landmarks. No, with family and friends Fred would trek, kayak, camp and take adventures.

According to his family, “the greatest, most wonderful adventure was when Fred planned a 15-month sabbatical in Europe, living in Zurich, Switzerland, to celebrate his and Flo’s 20th wedding anniversary. Their three sons [Frederic, Harden and Jon] went to schools there, and Flo began her Jungian studies at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich. Together there, Fred and Flo continued pursuit of their life-long love of opera, especially Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Fred spent his time in Switzerland on the couch being analyzed, skiing, learning flamenco guitar, and writing, with the latter two endeavors being singularly unsuccessful (according to Fred). Nonetheless the Jungian analytical process provided him with a seismic shift of consciousness and a grounding that he valued very much for the rest of his life.”

And the Wiedemann boys followed their father’s love for living a far-from-the-mundane routine. For instance, after graduating from St. Marks, Jon went to Harvard, became a Calvin Klein model, married actress Isabella Rossellini, producing daughter/model/actress Elletra Wiedemann, and went on to become an executive with Microsoft.

For those lucky enough to have attended a get-together at the Wiedemanns’ Preston Hollow ranch-style home filled with Japanese art, one just never knew what to expect. It might include a visiting best-selling author, a world-renowned educator or an artist, whose fame was just in the incubation stage. Why, D Magazine considered Flo and Fred to be one of Dallas’ “Heavenly Hosts and Best Guests.”

In reviewing his nine decades, Fred “acknowledged that he had made his share of mistakes and had tried to learn from them, but that his life had vastly exceeded any expectations he might have had. He felt it had been one ‘helluva’ ride, and he was so very grateful to have been aboard.”

Fred’s life will be celebrated at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, at Serenity House at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church. Just imagine what wonderful stories will be shared.

A Passing: Robert S. Folsom

Not all the news today is wonderful. One of Dallas’ legendary leaders died Tuesday, January 24 — former Mayor Robert “Bob” Folsom. His 89 years of life bridged generations with successes and accomplishments.

Robert and Margaret Folsom*

There were his years at SMU where he played football alongside Doak Walker and Kyle Rote and lettered in four sports (basketball, football, track and baseball). There was his more-than-successful career in real estate that provided a wealth of experience and knowledge that would serve as a catalyst later. There were his years on the Dallas Independent School District’s school board, where he was first a board member and then president. And there were the years (1976-1981) when he was mayor of Dallas, during which his business acumen helped him energize the community’s growth for both the corporate and nonprofit sector.

And the city and university recognized and saluted his contributions with numerous awards and acknowledgments: the SMU Edwin L. Cox  School of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1995, SMU Letterman’s Association Silver Anniversary Mustang Award in 1991, J. Erik Jonsson Aviation Award in 1990, Dallas Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame – inductee in 1989, Entrepreneur of the Year – SMU School of Business in 1984, Headliner of the Year – Dallas Press Club in 1981, James K. Wilson Art Award – Contribution to the betterment of the arts in 1980, Distinguished Alumni Award of Southern Methodist University in 1975, and  NCAA Silver Anniversary Award – College Athletics’ Top Ten in 1975.

It was only appropriate that the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award was established by Methodist Health System Foundation “to recognize individuals whose demonstrate commitment and excellence in community leadership emulating the achievements of former Dallas Mayor Robert S. Folsom.”

But most importantly there was his family. From his marriage in 1949 to his “childhood sweetheart” the late Margaret Dalton Folsom to his three children (Steve Folsom, Diane Frank and Debbie Jarma) and their famlies, Bob knew he had the best in his life right at home. In turn, his children have carried on the legacy of giving back to the community and celebrating the greatness of Dallas.

* Photo courtesy of Methodist Health System Foundation

A Passing: Liener Temerlin

During the ’60s and ’70s when Dallas had two daily newspapers and three TV stations, there were a handful of creative types and sales execs who gave birth to advertising/public relations/marketing agencies. Unlike the TV version of “Mad Men,” the Dallas men — Sam Bloom and his son Bob Bloom, Morris Hite, Stan Levenson, Stan Richards and Liener Temerlin — weren’t as much into martinis as they were into giving the New York ad community a run for their money. They were also helping the city of Dallas make it through the slow recovery from November 22, 1963.

Liener Temerlin (File photo)

Today it was reported that 88-year-old Liener died yesterday at his home in Austin.

According to The Levenson Group Co-Founders Barbara and Stan Levenson, “We always will be grateful to Liener for enriching both our personal and professional lives. Second to none, he was an industry icon and inspiring leader.”

With his bride Karla, the Ardmore native moved to Dallas to take a job a copywriter at Glenn Advertising in 1953. Over the years, he rose through the ranks becoming president of Glenn Bozell and Jacobs in 1974. Eventually the agency became Temerlin McClain in 1992 and TM Advertising in 2004. During his tenure, the agency handled such national accounts as American Airlines, Bank of America, Hyatt Hotels, J.C. Penney and countless others.

And he always seemed to be on the cutting edge. For instance, when his daughter Dana was married in the 1970s, he surprised locals by having a film crew tape the wedding reception at the Fairmont.  

But Liener’s life outside of the office was just as dynamic and visionary. He joined with the late Mayor Annette Strauss in orchestrating the building of the Morten H. Meyerson Symphony Center. That was unheard of back in that day with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra playing at Fair Park’s Music Hall.

And Liener’s foresight extended to still another art form — film. In 2006 he and Michael Cain sowed the seeds for the Dallas Film Society. In fact it was their connection to the American Film Institute that gave birth to the AFI Dallas International Film Festival that evolved into today’s DFS’s Dallas International Film Festival.

According to DFS President/CEO and DIFF Executive Director Lee Papert, “The Dallas Film Society is terribly saddened to learn of the passing of Liener Temerlin, our Founder and Chairman Emeritus. He was instrumental in the creation of the Dallas Film Society and the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. His passion and vision for film knew no bounds. That passion for this unique art form was limitless and he strived daily to bring a greater awareness of film to Dallas through the Film Society and the Dallas International Film Festival and the nation through his involvement with the American Film Institute. But beyond that passion, Liener was kind, genuine, and helpful – serving as a mentor to so many in the formation of a fledgling arts organization. He exuded class and most of all — he was our friend. We will miss our friend and we will continue to do our best to further his desire to celebrate this great medium.”

A Linz Award recipient, Liener was also involved with the Vogel Alcove, UT Southwestern Medical Center, SMU and a host of others.

Despite all these involvements, Liener’s top priority for more than six decades was his wife Karla Temerlin, their daughters Dana Temerlin Krebs and Lisa Temerlin Gottesman and their families.

On Sunday at 3 p.m., a memorial service will be held at in the Stern Chapel at Temple Emanu-El.