Sunshine Returns To The Area With Southern Charmer James Farmer For The Park Cities Historic And Preservation Society Luncheon

Despite North Texas taking a thunderous beating the night before, sunshine and friendly temperatures were on hand Wednesday, March 29, for the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society Luncheon at the Dallas Country Club.

And what else would one expect with author/gardener/floral and interior designer/cook/garden-to-table lifestyle expert James Farmer as the keynote speaker. Sunshine just seems to be his calling card.

James Farmer and Kendall Jennings

Since his appearance in 2013 for the Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Tablescapes, James flashed the same All-American smile, but there was less of him. He told Honorary Co-Chair Libby Hunt it was due to his giving one of his kidneys to his sister, Meredith. Libby asked if the transplant had caused him to be ill and lose the weight. No, he had been put on steroids the year before and the year after the surgery, resulting in his looking heavier when he spoke at Tablescapes. Now, he was back to his normal weight.

To get things going, PCHPS President Kendall Jennings welcomed the group and asked Pierce Allman to provide the invocation. With his arm in a sling as a result of rotator cuff surgery, Pierce’s presentation was poetic. So much so, that as emcee Scott Murray took his place on stage, he admitted that it was remarkable. When asked if he had been working on the invocation for some time or if it was something that had been handed down from generation to generation, Pierce smiled and said he had just put it together that morning.

 

David and Libby Hunt, Leeanne Hunt, Herbert Hunt, Libby Hunt Allred and Barbara Hunt Crow

Mike and Marla Boone

As guests like James’ buddy Caren Kline, Debbie and Jim Francis, Heather Furniss, sisters Libby Hunt Allred and Barbara Hunt Crow, Herbert Hunt, Cynthia Beaird, Marla Boone, Lindalyn Adams, Kay Weeks and Lucy Wrubel with mother Jennie Reeves had lunch, they caught up with Melinda Obenchain receiving rave reviews for “B Magazine,” which she just produced for Briggs-Freeman…La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas 2017 Co-Chair Rebecca Gregory reporting that La Fiesta de Las Seis Banderas would be returning to the Hilton Anatole in 2018.

Debbie Francis

Melinda Obenchain

Just past noon, emcee Scott told the guests how both Honorary Co-Chairs Libby’s and David Hunt’s childhood homes in the Park Cities were still standing. While that may not seem important to many, to this group of preservationist it was, with the recent demolishing of the Trammell Crow and Penson homes. He then had Pierce introduce James. Pierce, who had been tableside with James, described James as covering “everything from dirt to dessert.”

James Farmer

Some of the highlights of James’ talk included:

  • “Dallas still has a small-town feel. Had dinner last night at Café Pacific and knew people at the other tables.”
  • Having grown up in Perry, Georgia, “If you needed something made, you had it made there. If you wanted something from a foreign land, you went to Atlanta.”
  • As a five-year-old he was playing T-ball and was assigned left field. There he spied a colony of ziggy holes. In South Georgia, ziggy worms are grub  worms. “I knew instinctively that if I dug out a ziggy or two and put them in my pocket and took them home and threw them in our pond, I would catch catfish. And my Mimi, my grandmother, would fry that catfish and we would eat that catfish on my Aunt Irene’s Limoges plates. There’s a connection. Y’all can go to a nice restaurant and pay $30 for that fish now and it’s called ‘Pond To Plate.’ But I understood as a child that something from the ground could get to our table.” On this day in left field, he decided that he had found the “honey hole of ziggy worms.” He dug them up and put them in his pocket. “A kid from the opposing team had the nerve to hit a ball my way. I had to do what came natural to me, so I protected my ziggy colony.” The coach informed James’ father that his son was not an athlete. To this Dr. Farmer responded, “Yes, but he knows the Latin name for every blade of grass out in the field.” It would be 13 years later that James would receive a scholarship from a garden club for Auburn, and the kid who hit that ball received a scholarship to play baseball at Georgia. “So, you see we were both playing on the same field, but ended up where we were supposed to.”
  • Frank McCall influenced James with his “full service architect” firm that drew on a southern lifestyle and “helped my parents create their home.” McCall told James’ mother, “Every Southern lady needs a beautiful home. Every Southern lady needs fine silk. Every southerner needs a damn good chest.” She suddenly realized, “He wasn’t talking about Aunt Irene’s chest.” In the future, James would realize that McCall was talking about being confident and proud of what  you have.
  • It was while attending Auburn that James threw his first “dinner party.” It was in the dormitory kitchen. “I had a hankering for fried chicken and I knew how to fry chicken because you know every 18-year-old goes off to college with an iron skillet. Do you know how many friends you can make in college by making fried chicken? I never missed a sorority ball. Those girls were hungry, too. Those girls were off getting engagement rings and thinking, ‘Oh, my, I gotta learn how to cook.’ That was my ‘fried chicken moment.’”
  • “The pearly gates will smell like Lady Peas.”
  • “I love to teach the generations what the generations before had.”
  • “My grandfather was a Baptist minister and because of that I am a recovering Baptist. Thankfully, the Episcopal Church has a program for us. What the Episcopal Church does is they tell you to come to church and bring a bottle of wine.” On his first field trip with the Episcopalians, they went to the liquor store and he was told to “make eye contact with people, you address them by their first name, and bring that drink to the church and drink it.”
  • Each year his grandmother Mimi made her famous fruit cake. It called for rum. His grandfather wanted a piece with the rum: “It’s not drinking it if you’re eating it.” Being a good Baptist, his grandmother had a Methodist friend buy the alcohol at a liquor store. When the friend died, Mimi “put on some attire that the sheik of some Arab country would wear,” so no one would recognize her. When James confronted her, asking, “Did King Abdulla die?,” she proudly stated that no one had recognized her being incognito. But her grandson countered with, “But you drive the biggest Buick in town. If they saw it whipping around the liquor store…” She responded, “But I parked it at the Winn-Dixie.”
  • James’ first job was redecorating on his grandmother’s Baptist Sunday classroom. He soon learned that everything in the Baptist Church is done by committee, “which I believe is a version of eternal damnation. I would rather work for a dictator than a Baptist committee.”
  • Regarding his first book, he heard a dozen “Nos” from New York publishing houses. “They were No York.” But a Salt Lake publishing house agreed to take a meeting with him, where they wore football jerseys and jeans and James was “dressed like Astor’s pony.” The Salt Lake group agreed to publish 500 copies of “A Time To Plant.” His response was, “That’s sweet, but y’all know I’ll sell 500 copies in the Winn-Dixie parking lot from the back of my Suburban.” He ended up ordering all 500 copies himself and told them that he had some book signings coming up and friends like Caren and Peter Kline in Dallas who were going to support him with book signing events. Some friends in New York City arranged for him to prepare a dinner party for them and have a book signing afterwards. “I ran out of books. I had a conference call the next day with my publisher and I told them, ‘Y’all, I’m out of books.'” They said, “That’s what we want to talk to you about. Barnes and Noble just ordered 2,500 copies.” And it wasn’t just Barnes and Noble. Other stores were placing huge orders. The publisher asked, “What are you doing?” James responded, “Well, last night I cooked a dinner party for some friends of mine. Do you know Al Roker and Deborah Roberts?” They said, “No, but we know you’re not talking about the ‘Today’ host and the ABC reporter.” James trumped them by saying, “Yes, I am. Al and Deborah are very good friends of mine.” The publisher asked how James knew Al. “I know Al through Deborah, who’s from Perry.” They asked if he had other similar events planned. James said that he was headed down to Washington where a friend was going to host another event. “Is the President coming?” James said, “He was invited, because he’s, you know, busy. But they’re gonna take some books to the White House.” The publisher was curious, “Who do you know in Washington?” James asked, “Do you know Senator Sam Nunn? He’s from Perry.”
  • His latest book, “A Time To Celebrate,” started out focusing on big parties and deb balls. During the year that he was creating it, both his mother and grandmother died. “The word ‘celebrate’ took on a new meaning.’ It was Sunday night at home having scrambled eggs and watching ‘Downton Abbey’ with Mama.”
  • In writing “A Time To Celebrate,” he took Jenna Bush Hager up on the offer to “do anything for him.” He wanted her to write the forward. She admitted that she just didn’t know how to do it. James then told her, “You saw your mama and grandma entertain in the White House. I saw my mama and grandma entertain in a white house.” The common denominator was the fact that whether it was the president of a foreign country or the local minister, the way people come together is over food.
  • One of his favorite stories is about his mother, when they hired an Atlanta decorator. Previously, they had used a local decorator, who wore denim on denim — an “I only shop at Kmart look. She would use red latex magnolias dipped in gold glitter for Christmas.” The Atlanta decorator arrived in a black Mercedes and wearing Chanel. At one point, his mother said, “I love ‘Carl.’ I just have to tell you that ‘Carl’ makes me happy. . .  And ‘Carl’ makes me smile a lot.” When the decorator finally said she didn’t understand, because “Your husband is Ted,” Mother Farmer said, “I’m talking about the color.” Translation: coral.
  • In summary, James said, “Keep it real. That’s what the South is about.”

James talked about Al Roker, Deborah Roberts, Jenna Bush and Sam Nunn in such a way that it didn’t feel like name dropping, but rather they were just James’ friends and real.

If you weren’t able to make the luncheon, get one of James’ books and you’ll find a brand-new BFF.

JUST IN: Attorneys Serving The Community Luncheon To Benefit Junior Players With “Hamilton”‘s Renée Elise Goldsberry As Keynote Speaker

Cancel any and all plans for summer vacation. Well, at least, plan on being in town on Friday, June 23. Attorneys Serving the Community have such a reason for staying put on that Friday for lunch.

They’ve really tied things together for the 31st Attorneys Serving the Community Luncheon fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole. First, this year’s beneficiary is the award-winning Junior Players, which is the oldest non-profit children’s theater organization in Dallas. Originally offering “traditional children’s theater productions performed entirely by children and teenagers,” it changed its direction in 1989 by “providing free programming accessible to all the children of North Texas.”

Attorneys Serving the Community beneficiary Junior Players*

According to Dallas Morning News theater expert Nancy Churnin, Junior Players is “not just the play that’s the thing at Junior Players. It’s the way the company puts kids first by making quality lessons and performances free for 4,000 kids a year.”

Great pick, but who would be the on-target speaker for such an event benefiting young theatrical types by legal experts? Hold on to your petticoats and breeches. Luncheon Co-Chairs Beth Bedell and Kara Altenbaumer-Price managed to land Tony Award-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry, who originated the role of Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler Church in “Hamilton: The Revolution.” Just this past fall, she took leave of the Linn-Manuel Miranda hit.

Renée Elise Goldsberry*

But don’t think Renee is a one-note actress. This multi-talented and gorgeous gal is a perfect role model for young, aspiring performers. In addition to Broadway successes (“The Lion King,” “The Color Purple” and “Rent”) and numerous flat screen appearances, (“Ally McBeal,” “One Life To Live,” “Law And Order: Special Victims Unit,” “The Good Wife,” etc.), she’s now headed to the 25th century for Netflix’s 10-episode sci-fi drama “Altered Carbon” as Quellcrist Falconer.  In addition to theatrical and screen productions, she’s even been in the Super Bowl, where she and her Broadway sister updated “America the Beautiful.”

Outside of the theater and studio, Renee has a real life with attorney-husband Alexis Johnson and her two kiddos Benjamin and Brielle.

Trivia: The luncheon will have a tinge of irony. It will be a get-together for onstage Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law (aka Renée) with U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr’s descendant Jennifer Burr Altabef. If you skipped American History 101, Hamilton was killed in a duel with Burr nearly 213 years ago.

According to Jennifer, who along with her husband, Peter Altabef, are serving as luncheon honorary co-chairs, “Peter and I are thrilled to be honorary chairs for this event benefiting Junior Players, a vital arts resource for young people and a treasure in our community. We are looking forward to the event featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry, whose electrifying performance in ‘Hamilton’ brought to life the incredible story of the birth of our country. Aaron Burr was a part of that story, and in ‘Hamilton,’ the audience learns so much about him and his complex relationship with Alexander Hamilton.”

Mark Friday, June 23, as a “must-stay-in-Dallas” to see and hear from this lady, who “kicked failure’s ass.”

Sponsorships and tables are available here. Individual tickets, if there are any, will be up for grabs in May.

* Graphic and photo provided by Attorneys Serving the Community

Lisa Loeb To Emcee Wednesday’s Texas State Historical Marker For Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation’s At Aldredge House

Some might think that Wednesday’s dedication of the Texas State Historical Marker for the 100th anniversary of the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation at the 100-year-old Aldredge House will be skewed to the geriatric set. Rethink that! Sure, the House and Alliance are both celebrating a double centennial, but it’s not going to be a gloves-and-support-hose affair.

Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation Historical Marker*

Lisa Loeb*

Of course, proof is required and here it is — singer/songwriter/TV personality Lisa Loeb. Despite this Hockaday grad’s being on tour, she’s returning to her Dallas to serve as emcee for the event.

So, what’s the connection between Grammy Award-winner Lisa and the double centennial celebration and dedication? Before she became nationally known for her talents, Lisa was and still is the daughter of Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Past President Gail Loeb and has a slew of family members in healthcare.

In addition to her emcee duties, there’s a report that she will do some singing and, at the end of the ceremony, lead a “children’s sing-along of songs from her children’s album.”

Translation: Kids are welcome to be part of the festivities that start at 5 p.m. at The Aldredge House. Perfect timing! Pick up the munchkins from school and drive on over to Swiss Avenue to be part of a Double Centennial Celebration with elected officials and the unveiling of the Texas Historical Marker. Don’t forget your cellphones… as if you would… for photos with Lisa and the Marker.

* Photos provided by the Dallas County Medical Alliance Society Foundation

Dallas Historical Society “Celebrate(s) Texas” With George Tobolowsky’s Collection Of Historic Texas Maps As The Centerpiece

Most folks know George Tobolowsky for his sculptures. But it was his wife Julie Tobolowsky’s complaining about his watching “The Simpsons” about 20 years ago that added an entirely different interest in his life — historic maps.

So the story goes that Julie suggested that reading a book would be better than boob-tube watching. The first book that George picked up was “Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900.” Not only was Julie right on, she set her husband into collecting every map that was in that book and a lot more.

Historic maps display

Since artist George recognized the detail and beauty in the maps, he had them framed and displayed on the walls of the Tobolowsky home. Some were even framed in wood made from trees that George had felled.

Knowing this, the Dallas Historical Society held a “Celebrate Texas” party on the evening of Wednesday, March 1, the day before Texas Independence Day.

Alan Olson, Molly Nolan and Julie and George Tobolowsky

While DHS Executive Director Amy Aldredge was unable to attend, DHS Deputy Director  Alan Olson and DHS Development Associate Molly Nolan represented the DHS staff.

Northwood Woman’s Club’s “Dine By Design” Luncheon Whooped It Up With More Than 30 Tables All Duded Up Texas-Style

Gaylan Sapp and Shannon Burton

Unlike lady year’s Parisian ooh-la-la theme with a standard poodle greeting guests at the door, the North Woman’s Club’s Dine by Design was Texas-bound on Tuesday, February 28 at Bent Tree Country Club. Luncheon Co-Chairs Gaylan Sapp and Shannon Burton had decided to use “Waltz Across Texas” as the inspiration for more than 30 table designs. Well, why not? Texas Independence Day was just 48 hours away.

And to get things going, they had cowgirls Hailey Sandoz and Kristyn Harris strumming and singing in the entry.

Hailey Sandoz and Kristyn Harris

According to Gaylan, she came up with the Texas idea and her husband thought up the theme.

For the past year, Rebecca Dickinson and Sherry Draper had spearheaded the gathering of professional designers and creative types to fill the club. And the tables reflected just how different each creator’s interpretation was. Sure, there were Holiday Warehouse’s “Spring Waltz” and Donna Bailey‘s “Here Comes Easter To Texas” that cashed in on the upcoming spring and Easter.

Here Comes Easter To Texas

Spring Waltz

And Susan Loveless managed to blend her new line of Spa 1421 at her table with the approval of her mother Betty Stripling.

Poker and Gun Barrel City

Deep in the Heart

This Ain’t My First Rodeo

Trains Across Texas

Still others embraced the Lone Star feel with everything from Paula Austell‘s and Sarah Losinger‘s “Trains Across Texas,” Peggy Shuman‘s “Poker At Gun Barrel City,” Barbara Kutz‘s “This Ain’t My First Rodeo,” Barbara Barndt‘s, Michelle Hefner‘s and Molly Meyer‘s “Deep In The Heart,” Laura Williamson‘s and Lugay Wills‘ “All My Exes Live In Texas” to Carolyn Tayne‘s and Betty Verplan‘s “Daughters of the Republic of Texas…125 Years of Preserving Texas History.”

Mary Anne Preston’s copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence

And speaking of Texas history, new club member Mary Anne Preston, who was the great-great-granddaughter of Texas legend Jesse Grimes, shared family memorabilia including a copy of the original handwritten Texas Declaration of Independence.

After checking out all the tables and enjoying flutes of champagne, the guests headed to the ballroom for lunch and entertainment by Dan Tanner.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let the photos of the tables tell how the Northwood Woman’s Club raises funds for Friends of Wednesday’s Child, Genesis Women’s Shelter And Support, North Dallas Shared Ministries, Our Friends Place, Promise House and Shared Housing Center Inc. Check the designs at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

The 2017 Crystal Charity Ball Bus Tour Of The Eight Beneficiaries Resulted In Flowers, Tears And Inspiration For The $5.8M Goal

Like many nonprofits, there comes a once-a-year decision of how the raised funds will be distributed. For 65 years, Crystal Charity Ball has had that come-to moment for the Dallas area children’s nonprofits. To think. There are grown-ups who have survived devastating diseases and overcome miserable home lives and then have had amazing lives, thanks to the committee of 100 women.  

On Thursday, February 16, CCB Chair Pam Perella, CCB Underwriting Chair Leslie Diers and a busload of ladies undertook a day of visiting the eight beneficiaries thanks to Briggs Freeman | Sotheby’s International Realty’s Layne Pitzer‘s and Joan Eleazer‘s underwriting the tour. It was at one of those stops where the membership saw firsthand how one child and his mother represented the thousands of faceless and nameless other kids who were in need. More about that later.

Before the tour got underway with Andre in the driver’s seat, though, tour director Fredye Factor reminded the group that this year’s “working theme” was TV shows. Since the tour had been tagged as “All My Children,” they had arranged for Susan Lucci‘s cousin Pucci Lucci to address the ladies. Pucci turned out to be CCB member Pam McCallum, whose Pucci was more Blanche Devereaux than Erica Kane.

Big Brothers Big Sister Lone Star — $500,000

Bill Chinn

But it was time to get down to work and things started off with two representative making presentations on board the bus. First up was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lone Star President Bill Chinn, who told how the July 7th shooting in downtown Dallas had spurred them on with a project — Bigs in Blue, which would connect first responders like policeman, fire fighters and city personnel as mentors for at-risk children to “establish strong and enduring one-to-one relationships.”  

Rainbow Days — $500,000

Tiffany Beaudine

Next up was Rainbow Days Director of Development Tiffany Beaudine, who reported that the CCB’s contribution would span three years to purchase a new van for transporting supplies to children living in motels, as well as adding “one new full-time program manager and a portion of four staff members who will assist in implementing programs, and partial salary for the program director.” Rainbow Day’s Project Hope program would also “deliver food weekly including snacks, school clothing and hygiene products as well as an opportunity for homeless children to attend summer day camps and holiday celebrations.”

The children whom they serve often suffer from fear. Too often their lives are filled with gunfire at night and the fear of playing outdoors.  

The Autism Treatment Center — $582,020

Neil Massey

Then the ladies were driven to the Autism Treatment Center to learn firsthand about its Early Intervention Therapy and Educational Capital Campaign. Thanks to the contribution, 101,100 square feet of the present facility will be “reconfigured and remodeled to increase the number of educational classrooms, therapy rooms, counseling offices and other important spaces.” The additional space will allow the Autism Treatment Center to quadruple the number of students who will receive help.

In showing the outdoor playground with its misting umbrella for hot days and the growing garden that provides both education and accomplishment, Development Director Neil Massey looked at the open lot next door. Having outgrown their current facilities, he said that they had tried to buy it from the present owner but had had no luck.

Autism Treatment Center

But it was the classrooms where the ladies learned that patience was a key to working with autistic boys and girls. Structure and patience were not just paramount for the children’s learning to adjust to their special conditions. But those lessons were important to being included in the family life. One lesson was that when an autistic children got frustrated and got physically upset, it was important for them to be ignored until they realized that their actions would not produce results. One CCB-er, upon hearing the comment said, “That probably proves true in all our lives.”

Presbyterian Communities & Services Foundation — $541,098

Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation board member Mary Ann Hyde

Next on the itinerary was the T. Boone Pickens Center. The timing of the visit was perfectly planned. It just so happened that the Center’s board was meeting that day with Board Trustee Mary Ann Hyde backed by the board members to greet the ladies in front of the magnificent facility.

So, it may have initially seemed curious to have CCB that benefits children to be providing funds for a hospice facility, but there was a very important aspect of the Pickens Center that affected children — the Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program.

Breaking into groups, the membership was shown the facilities that would assist not just those completing their lives, but would also help family, especially children, to be part of the final farewell and adjust to the loss. The 36-bed facility featured suites especially designed to comfort the patients with breathtaking views of the lake, doors that could accommodate the patient’s bed being moved to the room’s patio, and the out-of-sight medical equipment.

Presbyterian T. Boone Pickens Center guest suite

But the main point of the tour was how the Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program would help children through the process of grieving the loss “in a healthy and healing way.” There were the Marnie and Kern Wildenthal Education Center and the Harold Simmons Foundation Inpatient Care Center that provided both areas of play and adjustment to loss.  

Faith Presbyterian Hospice Child and Family Bereavement Program play room

In one room was a playhouse with super heroes on the walls. While in other rooms were materials for kids to vent their feelings regardless of their ages to social workers, counselors, music therapists and art therapists, who “will encourage healthy emotional growth, and bring unique comfort to children who have lost a sibling, parent or grandparents.”  

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance — $527,770

The next stop was the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance in the West End. While it was perfectly planned to coincide with a group of students, it reinforced the need for the Holocaust’s need to expand to a larger facility. CCB and high schoolers found themselves on top of each other learning about the horrors of World War II and the demonstrations of remembrance.

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance’s Paul Lake

One such example was the placement of stones representing the persons who were victims of the Holocaust. One teenager’s attempt to place a stone found their effort falling on the floor, resounding throughout the room. Ironically, the sound of the stone hitting the hard stone floor seemed to draw attention to the solemnity that had filled the room.

Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance

For a three-year period, the CCB contribution will allow “thousands of Title 1 and economically disadvantaged students to the Museum, free of charge, and will provide their teachers necessary curriculum support.”

Children’s Medical Center Foundation — $1,111,735

Just blocks away from Children’s Medical Center, the CCB-ers donned hard hats and safety glasses to tour Children’s Health’s Comprehensive Gait and Mobility Program that was under construction. Planned to officially open with full services in May, it allows youngsters with movement challenges resulting from injuries or chronic illnesses to access all the treatments in one facility. The rooms would provide everything from aquatic treatments to padded rock climbing.

Comprehensive Gait and Mobility Program aquatic facility under construction

Thanks to CCB’s contribution, it would be possible to purchase “five pieces of state-of-the-art robotic gait and mobility training equipment: The ErigoPro early mobilization tilt-table, the LokomatPro robotic based partial-weight-bearing treadmill system, the Andago body weight supported mobile robotic gait system, the Natus balance and gait assessment system and the HydroWorx therapy pool. Training for staff and robotic software upgrades are included with the purchase of this equipment.”

Thanks to this “centralized accessibility, thousands of Dallas County children will be able to seek services designed for patients from two to 18 years of age.

As the committee gathered in the main room, they were told of a surprise. It was indeed a surprise. Britt Cupp, who had suffered a trauma to his brain due to a skateboard accident years ago, arrived with yellow roses and a personal note for each of the women. As his mother, Angela Cupp, looked on, Britt handed out the flowers. Unfortunately, when Britt had his accident, he and his family were forced to seek assistance at different facilities throughout the country. Many of the CCB-ers who had children Britt’s age looked on in amazement at the mother and son who had been through so much and were spearheading the creation of such a facility.

Pam Perella, Angela Cupp, Britt Cupp and Brent Christopher

After a massive group pic with Britt, the CCB-ers with flowers in hand gathered outside for the traditional group picture. Inside Angela had one request — a photo of Britt with 2017 CCB President Pam Perella and Children’s Medical Center Foundation President Brent Christopher. Little did she know that Brent had made a similar request, saying, “Britt is my hero.”

Hunger Busters — $1,192,500

The CCB bus now headed to West Dallas for the Hunger Busters operation behind a tall wrought-iron fence topped with razor wire. On the side of the small building, the air condition units were padlocked.

Iron fences topped with razor wire at Hunger Busters

New father/Hunger Busters Executive Director Trey Hoobler explained, “We’re in a turf war here caught between two groups.”

But despite the Spartan and tight conditions, Production/Volunteer Manager Gumaro Castillo in the kitchen’s prep area explained how Ford would be proud of the assembly line of volunteers prepping the meals for DISD schools and after-school programs. Having been there eight years, Gumaro pointed with pride as volunteers put together sandwiches.

Hunger Busters volunteers

Thanks to the CCB contribution that would be used over a three-year period, the Feed the Need program would be expanded, “representing a 150% increase in the number of children served, from 2,000 to 5,000 daily. An additional new delivery van and staff support will allow Hunger Busters to serve children and schools on their waiting list for a total of 300,000 additional meals each year.”

Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy — $850,000  

Sandra Helton

The final stop of the day was Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy, where Sister Sandra Helton pointed to an open lot adjacent to the school where a cafeteria would be built. She then showed why the new facility would be needed, as she led the group to the present room where children eat. If the current lunchroom was needed for another event, the tables and chairs had to be removed and then replaced afterwards. If a funeral was to take place in the nearby sanctuary, meals would have to delayed.  The kitchen was barely larger than a jet liner’s kitchen.

Santa Clara of Assisi Catholic Academy

While the tour was going on, some youngsters took naps on the classroom floors, some practiced in the music room under Brandon McDannald‘s direction and others were hard at work at desks in classrooms.

Thanks to the CCB commitment, a 12,500-square-fooot cafeteria and fine arts center will be built that will be “available weekends for 1,300 children who attend religious education classes and also for Science Fairs, Band and Choir concerts, fundraisers like their Fall Festival and Grandparent’s Day. Funds will also be used for a dedicated fine arts center, giving Santa Clara students many more options in band, music, choir and art with designated classrooms where they can safely secure their instruments and supplies. Additionally, funds will provide a parish office and conference room, allowing for more students in the existing school.”

It was then homeward bound and ten months of fundraising to provide $5.8M for the children of Dallas.

For more photos from the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball bus tour, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

JUST IN: Dr. Linda Abraham-Silver Named New Chief Executive Officer For Perot Museum

Perot dinosaurs (File photo)

Nearly a year after its previous permanent CEO resigned, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas has named a new chief executive officer. According to a letter sent to museum donors by Perot Board Chair Hernan J.F. Saenz III, “Dr. Linda Abraham-Silver will be joining the Perot Museum as our next Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer, effective July 1.”

According to the letter, Abraham-Silver will arrive at the museum this summer “from the Government of Abu Dhabi, where she has led science and technology promotion initiatives for the Technology Development Committee as associate director since 2011.” Earlier, Saenz went on, she spent eight years as president and CEO of the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

The board chair said the new CEO is “perfectly aligned” with the Perot’s strategic initiatives.

“Dr. Silver’s background is impressive in its own right, but it is particularly relevant at this stage in the Museum’s evolution,” Saenz told the donors. “We are all engaged in the challenging … effort to translate the Perot Museum’s initial momentum into an engine of sustainable innovation and community impact. This requires fresh, innovate programming and exhibits, renewed and deepened community engagement across North Texas, and enhancements to the overall guest experience.”

The Perot had been led by Interim CEO Dan Kohl, since the abrupt resignation last year of chief executive Colleen Walker after less than two years on the job. According to news accounts, Walker and the museum’s board had “differences.”

Celebrate Texas Independence Day By Listening To A Mockingbird

A copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence from the family collection of Northwood Women’s Club member Mary Anne Preston

Texas Independence Day is Thursday, March 2. Here are some thoughts on how to celebrate the 181st anniversary of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence:

  • Wear your favorite cowboy/girl boots.
  • Listen to a mockingbird.
  • Sing the state song Texas My Texas in a restaurant after you’ve wet your whistle with a shot or two of tequila.
  • Have “pecan” pie for dessert.
  • Kiss the state reptile horned lizard or the state small mammal armadillo.
  • Watch “Giant,” “Texas Rising,” “Lonesome Dove,” etc.
  • Buy a horse.
  • Say something nice about Houston, Fort Worth, Austin and/or San Antonio.
  • Send a bouquet of blue bonnets to your fav state politician. If you don’t have one, send it to a history teacher.

Or, if you have time, drop by the Hall of State. Or, better yet, make a donation to your favorite historic group, like the Hall, the Dallas Historical Society, the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society, etc.

Despite Topsy-Turvy Temps, Dallas Blooms Will Be Abounding With “Peace, Love And Flower Power” Through April 9

Yesterday the temperatures were in the upper 80s. Tonight the mercury will drop to the 30s. This winter has been a roller coaster with wardrobes going from shorts to quilted jackets and back to sandals within hours.

If you think you’ve been dizzy from the changes, take pity on the plants. One minute they’re poking their heads up to spring-like conditions and just as quickly they’re being threatened with frost.

Daryl Kirkham, Mark Clayton and Mark Wolf*

And you just know the Dallas Arboretum folks have had their hands full in preparation for Dallas Blooms that had its Iberiabank sponsor Dallas Market President Daryl Kirkham, Dallas City Councilperson Mark Clayton and Dallas Arboretum Board Chair Mark Wolf on hand for the preview of this year’s theme “Peace, Love and Flower Power.”

This year’s petal extravaganza will “showcase an explosion of color with vintage VW floral topiaries and more than 500,000 spring-blooming blossoms” until Sunday, April 9.

Dallas Arboretum’s Dallas Blooms*

According to Dallas Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar, “Dallas Blooms is the largest display of tulips in a public garden anywhere west of Holland. Later in the festival thousands of azaleas and hundreds of Japanese cherry trees will blossom, leaving breathtaking color at every turn. Guests are sure to have an unforgettable experience this spring in our world-class garden.”

During the run of Dallas Blooms through Sunday, April 9, different activities celebrating the 1960’s theme will take place. From an Ed Sullivan Show-Celebrity Weekend, a music festival throughout the gardens to guests getting henna tattoos, and 1960s fashion on display in the DeGolyer House, it’ll make you dig out your bell bottoms and Nehru jackets.

And as if the Dallas Blooms isn’t enough, the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden will be back in action Saturday after going through its annual winter refreshing.

* Photos provided by Dallas Arboretum

Dallas County Medical Society Alliance And The Aldredge House To Hold Double Centennial Celebrations With Historic Marker And Luncheon

Margaret McDermott (File photo)

What were you doing 100 years ago? Probably the only one who could answer that is Margaret McDermott, who just celebrated her 105th birthday on February 18. It was when she was a five-year old living in Dallas that two totally different undertakings launched.

First, a stately mansion joined the other grand residences along Swiss Avenue. Taking two years to build by Dallasite Willie (Newberry) and her West Texas rancher husband William J. Lewis, the English Georgian/French Renaissance residence was designed by architects Hal Thomson and Marion Fooshee. Four years later the home was purchased by Rena (Munger) and her husband/banker George N. Aldredge, resulting in the residence being called “The Aldredge House.”

The Aldredge House*

Remember, at this time the population of Dallas was less than 158,000. The Park Cities was just a development in progress and considered by many to be a suburb of Dallas. The Highland Park Village wouldn’t open for 14 more years. Since there was no such thing as air conditioning, these showplaces that fronted Swiss had large windows that would allow the air to flow and fireplaces to warm the rooms with their tall ceilings. Word has it that Swiss Avenue was one of the first to be paved.

The Aldredge House*

Ironically, the same year that the Lewises moved into their home, the Woman’s Auxiliary to the Dallas County Medical Society was established. What most folks don’t know is that it “was the very first permanent woman’s county medical auxiliary in the nation, organized by a group of Dallas doctor’s wives. Mrs. John McReynolds was elected president and the group voted to support Red Cross work.”

Other auxiliaries sprung up throughout the country using the Dallas organization as the model. Over the years, the Dallas auxiliary grew both in membership and mission of supporting the Dallas County medical community. Eventually the name was changed to Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation (DCMSAF).

Rena Munger Aldredge*

Lindalyn Adams (File photo)

It was in the early 1970s that Rena and the Foundation found each other. The 80ish widow of George Aldredge had decided to give her mansion to a nonprofit to “preserve her home and to maintain it as a welcoming part of the Dallas community.” It just so happened that DCMSAF President/historical preservationist Lindalyn Adams was seeking a permanent home for the Auxiliary at the same time. The match was made!

The grand lady on Swiss entered a new phase of life. In addition to serving as home base for the Foundation, it was also the Kappa Alpha Theta show house and provided interior scenes for the TV show “Dallas,” as well as serving as a meeting place for the Auxiliary. In 1982, the House was recognized as a Record Texas Historic Landmark.

But over the years, the old gal needed updating and upkeep and that required funding. So after various efforts, the Auxiliary realized that they had a perfect opportunity to fund-raise coming up — the Double Centennial Celebrations of the Auxiliary and the House!

Such a momentous celebration deserved more than just one event to raise monies and awareness.

According to Foundation President Barenda Hino, “The DCMSA Foundation is seeking community support, so they can continue to preserve the rich heritage of this magnificent house.”

To kick the double centennial activities off, the official Texas Historical Marker will be dedicated at Aldredge House on Wednesday, April 5, with city, county and Medical Society leaders taking part.

The second event will be a luncheon taking place on Tuesday, May 16, at the Dallas County Club.

Barenda has arranged for Sharon and Mike McCullough to serve as co-chairs of the luncheon’s Advisory Host Committee “because of their belief in historic preservation, its importance in an ever-changing society and their great respect for the outstanding preservation of the Aldredge House by the Medical Alliance.”

Mike and Sharon McCullough (File photo)

Ruth Altshuler (File photo)

Lindalyn, who arranged for the Foundation’s acquisition of Aldredge House, and noted author/White House historian Dr. William Seale will be co-chairing the luncheon. Serving as honor co-chairs will be Ruth Altshuler and Margaret McDermott.

Tickets to the luncheon are available by calling 214.521.4108. If you can’t make it to the fundraiser, you can still donate to The Aldredge House Preservation Fund.  

* Photo courtesy of Dallas County Medical Society Auxiliary Foundation

A Gentle Reminder: Get Your Mailing And Banking Done Before Monday’s Presidents Day Holiday

If you were planning on doing some banking on Monday, rethink it because it’s a bank holiday thanks to President’s Day. But if you were expecting bills, you can rest easy because there ain’t gonna be any mail delivery either.

History lesson: President’s Day was originally held on February 22 to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. It was started in 1800 following Washington’s death in 1799. It wasn’t until the late 1870’s when it was declared an official federal holiday. But then in the late 1960s Congress got busy and created the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that “sought to shift the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to a series of predetermined Mondays. The proposed change was seen by many as a novel way to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers, and it was believed that ensuring holidays always fell on the same weekday would reduce employee absenteeism.”

For some folks, the three-day holiday has become a 3½-day holiday, since some folks took off for a very long lunch.

Barack Obama, Barbara and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush (File photo)

If you see a U.S. President, give ‘em a kiss for the day off.

Park Cities Historic And Preservation Society’s 2017 Home Tour, Luncheon And Car Show Plans Revealed At Holiday Party

Despite the holiday spirit filling Tish and Marvin Key’s marvelous Highland Park home, there was a wisp of sorrow in the air on Tuesday, December 13, for the annual Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society’s Christmas party. The very group that commemorates and encourages the history of the Park Cities was mourning the destruction earlier in the day of the Penson home. As bulldozers and other earth-moving machinery stood still under a full moon, the bricks and wood of the O’Neil Ford-designed home lay in ruins.

Liz and Lane Farley and Tish Key

Tish had once told her realtor Ralph Randall how she loved the house. So, when it went up for auction Ralph notified Tish of the opportunity to tour the legendary house overlooking the crossroads of St. Johns Drive and Armstrong Parkway.

Tish admitted she had wished she’d had the money to scoop it up. But it went to another with other plans that obviously did not include renovation.

At one point in the evening’s discussion, one guest grimly said, “I dread to think what is going to be built there.”

Marla Boone and Deborah Brown

John and Sandy Secor

As Marla Boone and Deborah Brown were bundled up greeting folks outside, Dallas Symphony Orchestra League President Sandy Secor was in the entry hall reporting that plans were all in place for the League’s 70th anniversary year including the Junior Symphony Ball in January, the 31stth Annual DSOL Debutante Presentation Ball in February, the Savor the Symphony in April and still more yet to be announced.

PCHS President  Kendall Jennings and husband Bruce Jennings were thrilled that Boston artist Stephen Wood was in town and able to attend the holiday party.

Bruce and Kendall Jennings and Stephen Wood

Regarding the upcoming plans for the year, Kendall reported that Liz Farley would be chairing the annual Distinguished Speaker Luncheon at the Dallas Country Club on Wednesday, March 29, with always entertaining James Farmer at the podium.

Home Tour Chair Tish has already finalized the residences that will be part of the lineup on Saturday, April 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. She’s already lined up the following homes for the tour:

3825 Miramar 

4825 Miramar*

4218 Fairfax

4218 Fairfax*

,

4309 Westway

4309 Westway*

and

3600 Greenbrier

3600 Greenbrier*

Libby and David Hunt will have a full menu serving as honorary co-chairs for both the luncheon and tour.

As for the 2nd Annual Classic and Antique Car Show, Chair Dan McKeithen has arranged to have the event at Burleson Park on Saturday, April 8. Just in case there is rain, the event will take place on Saturday, April 15. Ryan has signed on as the presenting sponsor for all three fundraisers.

While the Car Show is free, tickets for the home tour and luncheon will be available in March.

The Edith O’Donnell Institute Of Art History Lecture Hosted Keynote Speaker Philippe De Montebello For Heavy-Hitting Art Lovers

Once again The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History Lecture didn’t disappoint on Tuesday, November 29, at the Dallas Museum of Art. With world-renowned art authority Philippe de Montebello as the keynote speaker, it was no wonder that some of Dallas’ art elite were on hand for the lecture and dinner. Here’s a report from the field:

Bill Solmon, Peter O’Donnell, Gay Solomon and Edith O’Donell*

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at The University of Texas at Dallas hosted a lecture and dinner on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). Dr. Richard C. Benson, President of The University of Texas at Dallas; Dr. Richard R. Brettell, Founding Director of The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History; and Dr. Agustín Arteaga, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, welcomed over 250 guests including William Jordan, Susan Marcus, Robert Brownlee, Nancy Dedman, Brad Kelly, Joanne Stroud, Carole and John Ridings Lee, Linda and Bill Custard, Dan Patterson, Mary McDermott Cook, Leslie Benson, Gay and Bill Solomon, Beverly and Don Freeman, Brenda Berry, Rima and Eric Lee, Patricia Patterson and Catherine Rose for the third annual event.

Leslie and Richard Benson*

Carole and John Ridings Lee*

Patricia Patterson and Catherine Rose*

William Jordan, Susan Marcus and Robert Brownlee*

As guests arrived, they mingled over cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres in the Museum’s concourse before convening in the Horchow Auditorium for the evening’s lecture.

Dr. Arteaga welcomed attendees to the DMA and thanked them for their support of the evening, before introducing Dr. Benson. Dr. Benson gave a brief introduction of The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at UTD, a center for innovative research and graduate education in the history of art. Founded as a partnership between UTD and the DMA, the Institute links one of the country’s great public art collections with one of the finest public university systems in the world.

Dr. Brettell then took the podium and shared details about some of the Institute’s exciting partnerships, including the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples. Museo di Capodimonte Director Sylvain Bellenger followed, providing the history of the museum which is located in the Palace of Capodimonte, as well as images of the palazzo and its renowned collections.

Sylvain Bellenger, Philippe de Montebello, Agustin Arteaga and Richard Brettell*

Dr. Brettell returned to introduce the evening’s featured speaker, Philippe de Montebello, professor of History and Culture of Museums at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and past director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Montebello enthralled the crowd with his lecture about “The Multiple Lives of Works of Art,” by sharing beautiful images as well as his extensive knowledge and expertise.

For more information, visit The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History.

* Photos provided by Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History

A Passing: “The Exorcist” Author William Peter Blatty, Multiple Myeloma And A Long Ago Story About A Dallas Encounter

MySweetCharity

Today CancerBlows Co-Founders Niki and Ryan Anthony were meeting with CancerBlows Co-Chairs D’Andra Simmons Lock and Anne Stodghill and a production crew from around the country for the upcoming May 8-10th multiple myeloma fundraiser at the Meyerson. (More about that in the days to come.)

While they were finalizing plans for the event that will have the world’s greatest horn players perform to support research and treatments about the disease that struck Ryan, multiple myeloma proved just how deadly it is. Academy Award-winning screenwriter/acclaimed author of “The Exorcist” William Peter Blatty died the day before as a result of the blood cancer.

Blatty’s death recalled an incident that took place in Dallas back in 1973. A very young and green society writer at The Dallas Morning News was assigned to cover a party hosted by Polly and Dick Hitt and Jeanne and Jim Butler for a novelist named William Peter Blatty. In a Google-less world, she wandered the newsroom asking reporters if they had ever heard of Blatty. All she got were shrugs. Well, there was one writer who said he thought the guy had written about teddy bears.

So, off the society writer went to the party at a mansion on Preston Road, where she encountered all types of local celebs like KVIL’s Ron Chapman and Hugh Lampman and Bettie and Fairmont Hotel General Manager Julian Abio. Once again, she asked, “Have you heard of William Peter Blatty?” Again, the responses were shrugs and side-shaking of heads.

Wandering into a small sitting room, she found a man seated in a chair whom she didn’t know. After exchanging “Hellos,” she again asked him if he knew of William Peter Blatty. He responded, “As a matter of fact I do. He wrote a book called ‘The Exorcist.’” Innocently, she asked if he had read it. He nodded. She followed that up with, “Is it any good?” He said he thought so.

She was on a roll and asked if her new friend could point Blatty out. He then aimed his index finger at his chest.

She smiled and they both laughed.

Now, having experienced the most awkward moment that could possibly happen in their relationship, she said, “Do you know that you look yellow? Is it the lighting or are you wearing some kind of makeup?” He said he hadn’t been feeling all that great and appreciated her concern.

After a few minutes, she departed.

The next day the society writer received a call from host Jim Butler saying that after she had left the party, Blatty had been taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with hepatitis. “He keeps asking for you,” Butler said.

Over the next few months, the movie version was released and the phone calls between the society writer and Blatty continued. He would talk about his life and how the movie’s popularity had been both flattering and weird. After she had seen the movie, she acted like a movie expert and wondered if it would have been better done in black and white. He laughed and said that he had lobbied for that, but the director and money people were totally opposed to that idea.

While staying in Colorado, Blatty called and insisted that the writer come to Colorado to meet his mother, Mary Blatty. He had spoken of his mother often and had told her about the writer. Bill just knew the two ladies would hit it off. The writer suggested that Blatty put Mary on the phone, so they could chat.

It was then that the relationship took a definite “exorcist” turn. He couldn’t put his mother on the phone. She had died in 1967. It was the last time the reporter and Blatty would talk.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrations Extend From Friday To Holiday Monday

Another federal holiday will have banks, government offices and most schools closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But there is so much going on to celebrate the late civil rights leader. Here’s just a smattering of the events for your consideration:

  • FRIDAY, JANUARY 13 — Presented by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, the MLK Jr. Oratory Competition takes place at the Majestic Theatre from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It features fourth- and fifth-graders delivering three- to five-minutes original speeches. It’s free, but registration is necessary.
  • SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 — The 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award Gala will get underway at the Fairmont Hotel with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and featuring Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough and special guests Laila Muhammad and Yolonda Williams. The Afterglow Event will follow the gala. Individual tickets are going for $85 for the gala and $20 for Afterglow Event.
  • MONDAY, JANUARY 16 — The 2017 MLK Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of MLK Boulevard and Holmes Street. It’s free for the viewing. Let’s hope the rain dries up in time for the bands to strut their stuff.
  • The 2017 MLK Symposium*

    MONDAY, JANUARY 16 — Presented by BaylorScott&White, the 12th Annual MLK Symposium: MLK’s Legacy: Issues of Social Justice in the 21st Century will feature presentations by journalist Jelani Cobb and #BlackLivesMatter Co-Creator Alicia Garza at the Dallas City Performance Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance because they will not be sold at the venue.

* Graphic courtesy of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture

From An Olympian Gold Medalist To An Opera CEO, The Awards Of Excellence Celebrated A Wide Range Of Achievers

One of the favorite award luncheons of the fall season is the Dallas Historical Society‘s Awards for Excellence. Just the week before Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 17, the lovers of Dallas history and those who help make it all come true were at the Fairmont for the handing out of awards and the legendary A.C. Greene champagne toast. Here’s a report from the field:

The Board of Trustees of the Dallas Historical Society, with Honorary Co-Chairs Gail Thomas, PhD and Robert Hyer Thomas and co-chairs Veletta Forsythe Lill and Mary Suhm, welcomed over 650 attendees to the 35th Awards for Excellence (AFE) in Community Service luncheon on Thursday, November 17, at the Fairmont Dallas.

May Suhm, Amy Aldredge and Veletta Forsythe Lill*

As attendees arrived and took their seats, Master of Ceremonies Stewart Thomas welcomed everyone to the 35th annual celebration, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated generosity of spirit, civic leadership, and ability to encourage community-wide participation in a particular phase of the growth of the city. He then welcomed Reverend Richie Butler, senior pastor of St Paul United Methodist Church, for the invocation. 

Following the invocation, guests enjoyed a first course of spring pea and ham soup en croute with mint cream, followed by roasted chicken breast with demi glace served with old school stacked potatoes, arugula and carrot cardamom puree. Thomas returned to introduce Co-Chairs Veletta and Mary.

Bob and Gail Thomas*

Ms. Lill and Ms. Suhm expressed their gratitude to attendees, event sponsors and the luncheon committee for their support of this year’s Awards for Excellence, particularly Honorary Co-Chairs Gail Thomas and Robert Hyer Thomas. Applauding the couple’s many contributions to Dallas, including their long-standing support of the Dallas Historical Society, the co-chairs announced that two special books would be donated in the Thomas’ honor to the G.B. Dealey Library and Reading Room at the Hall of State: for Bob, Darwin Payne‘s “One Hundred Years On The Hilltop: The Centennial History of Southern Methodist University” and for Gail:  the late historian A. C. Greene‘s “A Town Called Cedar Springs” for creating the sense of community from the many former historic villages that now comprise Greater Dallas.

Dallas Historical Society Board of Trustees Chair Bill Helmbrecht then took the podium recognizing event co-chairs and honorary chairs as well as Amy Aldredge, the Dallas Historical Society’s recently appointed executive director. Additionally, he thanked Arrangements Chair Shannon Callewart, Master of Ceremonies Stewart Thomas, AFE Coordinator Louise Caldwell, Caro Stalcup and Staff Liaison Nora Lenhart for all the dedicated hours they put in to making the event a success.

He also shared the impact the Dallas Historical Society makes with its holdings of over three million archives and artifacts related to Dallas and Texas history, its exhibits and events, including two upcoming exhibits, “Polly Smith: A Texas Journey” and “Drawing Power: The Editorial Art of John Knott” and its education and public programs which reach approximately 20,000 area school students annually.

As dessert of caramel pecan cheesecake with salted caramel and Texas pecans was served, Stewart returned to recognize the 2016 Awards for Excellence in Community Service recipients.  Each recipient was presented with their award by co-chairs Lill and Suhm.  

Keith Cerny, Holly Mayer and Emmanuel Villaume*

Anita Martinez, Eliseo Garcia and Patricia Meadows*

Richard Stanford and Pat Mattingly*

Hugh Aynesworth and Pierce Allman*

2016 Awards for Excellence recipients:

    • Arts Leadership – Keith Cerny, general director and CEO of the Dallas Opera
    • Business – Leonard M. Riggs Jr. M.D., noted Dallas civic leader who began his career as an emergency physician, became chief of emergency medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, and later founded the precursor of EmCare, Inc.
    • Creative Arts – Eliseo Garcia, international multi-media sculptor
    • Education – Pat Mattingly, long-time educator and former 26-year director of The Lamplighter School
    • History – Hugh Aynesworth, award-winning journalist and writer
    • Humanities – Molly Bogen, retired 40-year director of Senior Source
    • Medical Research – Eric Olson, renowned molecular biologist specializing at UT Southwestern Medical Center
    • Philanthropy – Linda Perryman Evans, president and CEO of the Meadows Foundation
    • Sports Leadership – Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time World Championship gold medalist
    • Volunteer Community Leadership – Philip C. Henderson, architect and urban visionary and first president of the Friends of the Katy Trail
    • Volunteer Community Leadership – Frederick “Shad” Rowe, co-founder of GIBI Investment Symposium and advocate and board member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation
    • Jubilee History Maker – Margot Perot, community volunteer and philanthropist

Nancy Shelton and Molly Bogen*

David Dunnagan and Linda Perryman Evans*

Glenn Solomon, Louise Caldwell and Michael Johnson*

Shad Rowe and Willing Ryan*

Carol Montgomery and Margot Perot*

After the awards presentation, champagne was served to all attendees as well as recipients on stage. Stewart returned to the podium, with glass in hand, to conclude with the event’s traditional A.C. Greene toast:  “Would everyone who was born in Dallas, please stand up.  Would everyone who was born in Texas, please stand up. We toast the rest of you – who were smart enough to move here as fast as you could! Here! Here!”

The A.C. Greene toast*

As the event concluded, the Judy Moore Duo played the event’s signature song, “Big D” from the musical, “Most Happy Fella.”

Proceeds from the annual fundraiser support the Dallas Historical Society and its dedication to the preservation of Dallas and Texas history through its many programs, including educational outreach and public programs.

* Photo credit: Steve Foxall

The Eight Days And Nights Of Hanukkah Begin At Sunset Saturday

Saturday evening will be a very special occasion for many. For some it will be attending midnight church services. For members of the Jewish religion, sunset will commence the eight days and nights of Hanukkah (aka Festival of Lights). With the use of a menorah, a candle is lit after dark each night by the shamash and placed in a doorway or window. On each following night an additional candle is lit until the eighth night when the entire candelabra is aglow.

Modern day menorah

The tradition goes back to more than 2,000 years ago, when the Maccabees succeeded in rebelling against Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Temple of Jerusalem was purified and, despite there only being enough oil for menorah’s candles being lit for one day, they burned for eight days.

In addition to the lighting of the candles, there is the reciting of Hallel prayer, eating foods fried in oil like latkes and sufganiyot, playing the dreidel game and Hanukkah gelt.

Hanukkah ends at nightfall on Sunday, January 1, on the first day of 2017.

MySweetWishList: Dallas Heritage Village

According to Dallas Heritage Village President and Executive Director Melissa Prycer,

Melissa Prycer*

“My Christmas Wish for Dallas Heritage Village is that we enter our next 50 years with as much vision and enthusiasm as when we got our start in 1966. This entire year has been about looking back at our own institutional history, and I think we’ve all realized what extraordinary vision our founders, such as Mary Aldredge, Ruth Ann Montgomery and Lindalyn Adams had in those early days. They set us on an extraordinary path.

“Over the past 50 years, we’ve changed quite a bit, but the core of our mission remains the same: connect the present with the past. We see over 20,000 children each year, and those field trips are often their first exposure to ‘real” history.’ We’re active in discussions shaping the future of our historic neighborhood, the Cedars.  We continue to host remarkable special events, including Candlelight (celebrating its 45th anniversary this year), Old Fashioned Fourth and the newer Jazz Age Sunday Social. Thirty historic buildings are in our care, and it’s a constant battle against the elements to keep those buildings whole—and able to teach about the past. And this is just a snapshot of all we do—and all we are to our visitors, volunteers, and neighbors.

“If you’re still calling us Old City Park, it might be time for a return visit! To find out more, check out our website: www.dallasheritagevillage.org And I hope you’ll consider moving the past forward by becoming an Urban Pioneer this year. (http://www.dallasheritagevillage.org/supporters/memberships ).”

-By Melissa Prycer, Dallas Heritage Village president and executive director

* Photo provided by Dallas Heritage Village

Gratitude Has Been The Main Dish Over The Centuries On Thanksgiving Day

The tradition of Thanksgiving began in 1621 when two groups from different backgrounds (the Wampanoag Indians and the Plymouth pilgrims) came together to break bread. Any school child can tell how the Indians had literally helped the newcomers survive the challenges of the new frontier.

Robbie and Nancy Briggs (File photo)

Robbie and Nancy Briggs (File photo)

The colonists created the meal with “fowl” to show their gratitude to the Indians for helping them settle in this foreign land. In turn, the native Americans brought five deer to add to the meal. Due to a lack of microwaves and Wolf ovens, there were no pumpkin pies.

Today is such a day when people of different backgrounds come together. It’s people like Nancy and Robbie Briggs, who will be serving meals to the homeless. It’s an occasion when most will have their eyes on the annual Thanksgiving Parade and/or The Boys and the Redskins. It’s the morning that loads of folks will hit the stores as early as possible for bargains. It’s, unfortunately, for far too many calling a car “home.” 

May your blessings be many and shared with all you know and need to know.

2016 Excellence Awardees Are Toasted At Dallas Historical Society Patron Party

Libby and Doug Hunt

Libby and Doug Hunt

Drink glasses were raised, and there was much applause Tuesday, October 26, when about 65 guests gathered at Libby and Doug Hunt’s beautiful, classic home to recognize recipients of the Dallas Historical Society’s 2016 Awards for Excellence in Community Service. The awards, scheduled to be presented at a luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel on Thursday, November 17, are given annually to honor “generosity of spirit, civic leadership, and [the] ability to encourage community-wide participation” in the growth of Dallas.

Gail and Bob Thomas and Louise Caldwell

Gail and Bob Thomas and Louise Caldwell

Veletta Forsythe Lill and Mary Suhm

Veletta Forsythe Lill and Mary Suhm

After attendees at the patron party including new DHS Executive Director Amy Aldredge, Betsy and Richard Eiseman, Margot and Ross Perot and Gail and Bob Thomas—Gail and Bob are the luncheon’s honorary co-chairs—greeted old friends and caught up on all the latest, event co-chairs Mary Suhm and Veletta Forsythe Lill called the packed house to order and graciously introduced the 2016 awardees in attendance.   

Molly Bogen and Amy Aldredge

Molly Bogen and Amy Aldredge

Veletta went first, recognizing Keith Cerny (he would be getting the award for Arts Leadership), Eliseo Garcia (Creative Arts), Molly Bogen (Humanities), Philip C. Henderson (Volunteer Community Leadership) and Margot Perot (Jubilee History Maker).

Then it was Mary’s turn to take the living-room stage. She proceeded to give shout-outs to Pat Mattingly (Education), Shad Roe (Volunteer Community Leadership), Dr. Leonard Riggs (Business) and Hugh Aynesworth (History).

Ross and Margot Perot and Hugh and Paula Aynesworth

Ross and Margot Perot and Hugh and Paula Aynesworth

Others scheduled to receive awards in November were Dr. Eric Olson (Medical Research), Linda Perryman-Evans (Philanthropy) and Michael Jordan (Sports Leadership).

The introductions made, all present raised their glasses high and toasted the honorees. Then everyone went back to catching up.

Award-Winning Journalist Bob Woodward Will Be Making Two Local Appearances This Week Discussing The National Election

While location is everything in real estate, timing holds the same importance in event planning. So, a couple of local nonprofits figured out that a week following the recent presidential election would be the perfect time to have a renowned journalist/author type in town for a fundraiser.

Bob Woodward*

Bob Woodward*

The catch was that both the Dallas Bar Foundation and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth picked the same fellow — Bob Woodward. But there were no hard feelings between the two groups. They probably were able to split Bob’s travel costs. You know, “You pick up his airfare coming and we’ll pick up his departure costs.”

First on his Dallas stop will be An Evening With Bob Woodward on Tuesday, November 15, at Belo Mansion for the Foundation’s Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarship Program for law students. He’s going to be chatting it up with attorney/historian Talmage Boston.

On Wednesday, November 16, he’ll return to Belo Mansion to discuss “The 2016 Election and What It Means for America” for the World Affairs Council luncheon.    

Ah, but poor Bob. He probably had his theories on the presidential outcome all prepared. Then last Wednesday’s early-morning news may have resulted in his being thrown into rewrite mode for the past few days.

If you want to hear the former “All The President’s Men” scribe discuss why ice skates are being rented in Hades, you have two opportunities.

To attend the Dallas Bar event, you’ll need to call 214.220.7487 ASAP. On the other hand, you can still get a ticket online for the World Affairs Council lunch.

* Photo courtesy of World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth

JUST IN: Plans Revealed For Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center For Education And Tolerance’s Capital Campaign

Frank Risch is a very busy fellow. He’s headed up the search for the Communities Foundation of Texas CEO. The buzz is that the decision on Brent Christopher’s successor should be announced soon.

Now, word just arrived from the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance that Frank is co-chairing the “Building a Foundation of Hope” capital campaign to raise the remainder of the $61M for building a 50,000-square-foot museum that will be “a new permanent home in the West End Historic District. The new museum will be named Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.”

Frank Risch (File photo)

Frank Risch (File photo)

Mary Pat Higgins (File photo)

Mary Pat Higgins (File photo)

The museum “has already raised two thirds of the funds it needs to start construction, which will take about two years to complete. More than $43 million has been raised.”

According to Museum President/CEO Mary Pat Higgins, “At a time when Texas leads the nation in the number of active hate groups, and the Dallas community is still healing from the July 7th attack on local law enforcement officers, the most violent and hateful act against law enforcement officers since 9/11, we believe the mission of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is more important than ever.”

Mary Pat explains that due to running out of space in the current rented facility, the museum was “limited in the number of visitors we can see at one time, and many schools and thousands of students are not able to visit as their class sizes are too large for our current museum. We have been forced to move many of our events to other venues. These are all wonderful problems to have, but we urgently have to address our community’s need for education surrounding the history of the Holocaust and it’s all too relevant lessons. This need has led our board to unanimously approve the ‘Building a Foundation of Hope’ capital campaign to create the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.”

Built in the parking lot near Houston Street and the DART Rail corridor, the new museum will feature new exhibit galleries on human rights and American ideals, a 250-seat theater, new classrooms, an expanded library and archive, modern technology throughout, a special reflections and memorial area for visitors and much more.

So far capital campaign donors have included:

  • $10,000,000: Ann and Nate Levine
  • $3,000,000-$4,999,999: Carol and Steve Aaron
  • $1,000,000-$2,999,999: Edward and Wilhelmina Ackerman Family Foundation, Alon USA Energy Inc., Janet and Jeffrey Beck, The Brown Family, Cinemark, Cynthia and Robert Feldman, Funk Families, Estate of Lilian Furst, Glazer Family, Lisa and Neil Goldberg, Sherry and Kenny Goldberg, Dot and Basil Haymann, The Hirsch Family Foundation, Helen and Frank Risch, Simmons Sisters Fund, Donna and Herbert Weitzman and Peggy and Mark Zilbermann

Hope Cottage Is Now A Two-Story Home-Sweet-Home That Emma Wylie Ballard Would Have Loved

Isn’t it amazing how time flies. It was back in 1917-1918 that Dallas was seeing the creation of “love” and “hope.” The “love” was the official naming of an air field service for prospective World War I pilots after aviator Moss L. Love. Just one of 32 in the country, it would eventually become Dallas’ city-proper airport Dallas Love Field and home base for Southwest Airlines.

The “hope” was what 52-year-old Emma Wylie Ballard had. Becoming a widow at the age of 35, she “joined the workforce” to support her two children. That job was with the Dallas County Juvenile Court. It was in 1918, as director of the Dallas County Humane Society’s Child Welfare Department, that she had witnessed children being abandoned on the streets of Dallas and wanted to offer them “hope.”  And Emma did just that when she arranged for the opening of “a small home to accept the babies.” Within the first two weeks of the opening of Hope Cottage, a two-week-old baby girl was turned in as a result of her mother and aunt dying from the influenza epidemic. The child was named Hope Watson “after Hope Cottage and for the hope that she would live.” (Editor’s note: Hope Watson lived to the ripe old age of 92.)

Within the first four years, 542 babies were taken in by Hope Cottage.

Since the $29 a month for milk seemed a bit exorbitant to the county commissioners, Emma “took to the streets in her Model A with the signature stork on the front, picking up donations and abandoned children alike.”

Hope Cottage

Hope Cottage

Over the past 99 years, Hope Cottage has placed generations of children and had only two home base “cottages.” Last month the Hope Cottage family moved into an incredible two-story building in the Wilson District. To celebrate the occasion, they held a patron party on Wednesday, September 21, and a ribbon-cutting on Thursday, September 22. Here is a report from the field that Emma would have been proud of:

Not only was September 22, 2016 North Texas Giving Day, it was also the day that Hope Cottage, Dallas’ oldest nonprofit, non-sectarian adoption agency, dedicated their new home. This stunning edifice is located in the Wilson Historic District at 609 Texas Street and is only the agency’s third permanent address since its founding in 1918.

The ceremony opened with a welcome by CEO Sonyia Hartwell and prayer by Chaplain Ann Golding.  Chief Development Officer Leslie Clay sang the national anthem, during which a low-flying Southwest jet provided an unplanned, but perfectly timed flyover.

Hope Cottage adoptive parent/Board President Shannon Hills-Cline and Hope Cottage adoptee/ Comprehensive Capital Campaign Chairman Carmyn Neely each spoke passionately about their experiences with Hope Cottage and what the agency has meant in their lives.

Carol Young Marvin, Christopher Shaw and Leslie Clay*

Carol Young Marvin, Christopher Shaw and Leslie Clay*

George and Fay Young Foundation Executive Director Christopher Shaw made heartfelt remarks about the long relationship Hope Cottage and the foundation have enjoyed.  The Youngs adopted their daughter Carol Young Marvin from Hope Cottage and Mr. Young served for many years on the Hope Cottage Board of Directors. Carol too has served both on the Hope Cottage Board of Directors and the Hope Cottage Foundation Board. Shaw said, “Having watched this facility grow out of a vacant lot, I know it has only begun to leave its mark on our great city. And while the exterior is undoubtedly beautiful, it is what happens inside that matters most. And what happens inside can be summed up with one word – hope.”

Dallas District 10 City Councilman Adam McGough closed out the speeches. Referring to Hope Cottage, he said “…you can’t help but feel the sense of family, the sense of hope here. It is organizations like this that give our city hope.”

Representatives from both the Board of Directors and Gensler, Sonyia Hartwell and Adam McGough participated in the ribbon cutting along with a special treat – grandfather and grandson duo, Jeff York and Noah York, both Hope Cottage adoptees.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, the doors flung open wide and the crowd surged in for tours of the building and refreshments.

Hope Cottage ribbon cutting*

Hope Cottage ribbon cutting*

The lobby has three walls of glass and is decorated in soothing colors of creams and soft greens. Several guests were also seen trying out the rockers on the expansive front porch. Look for those rockers to be used quite a bit once the weather cools down. The first floor contains the Meadows Foundation Pregnancy and Infant Adoption Suite, along with meeting spaces. On the second floor you will find the Hoblitzelle Foundation Client Services Suite and on the third floor is the Rees-Jones Conference and Event Suite. Looking towards the east from the event and conference suite, you have a stunning view of the Wilson Historic District with Baylor Hospital rising in the background, to the south you can see the lovely home of CASA. On the west you have a spectacular view of downtown Dallas from the Dallas Foundation Community Terrace. CASA’s Becca Haynes Leonard and CNM Connect’s Joel Rothermel and Beth Meyers were seen taking advantage of the view and snapping selfies on the terrace.

Hope Cottage’s new home was part of a $4.56M comprehensive capital campaign, “For the Next 100 Years.”  $3.6M was designated to construct a new service center and the remainder is designated for program expansion in three areas:  Pregnancy Services, Youth Education and Foster to Adopt. The George and Fay Young Foundation made the lead gift to the campaign and The Rees-Jones Foundation closed out the campaign. Other major foundation and corporate gifts include: Meadows Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, Doswell Foundation, Hillcrest Foundation, The Dallas Foundation, Seegers Foundation, Rotary Club of Dallas-Uptown and Oncor.

Designed by Gensler and constructed by Royal Construction, this three-story jewel has been described as an architectural beacon in Dallas. Great care was taken by Gensler to insure the Austin stone building fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. The Gensler team, comprised of adoptive parents, was excited to lend their expertise to the Hope Cottage project.

Sonyia Hartwell, TAylor romatzky, Don Potts and Brooks Quinlan

Sonyia Hartwell, Taylor Gromatzky, Don Potts and Brooks Quinlan

On the evening before the dedication, campaign donors were treated to private tours and a reception in their honor, held in the Rees-Jones Event and Conference Suite. Attendees including Katherine and Michael Phillips, Don C. PottsKathy Smith from the Meadows Foundation, Lynn Gibson from the Rees-Jones Foundation and Georgia Black, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres from At Your Service Catering and light beverages while experiencing a trip down memory lane perusing 98 years of photographs and news clippings the agency has so lovingly maintained.

What is up next for Hope Cottage?  A little bird told us they will kick off their centennial celebration on June 1, 2017, and will wrap up that celebration on the agency’s actual 100th birthday on June 1, 2018.

* Photos provided by Hope Cottage

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld Wasn’t The Only Entertainment Legend In The House For CitySquare’s “A Night To Remember”

It seemed like there were a lot of last minute arrivals at the Winspear on Saturday, September 10. And unlike the usual opera lovers and Broadway aficionados, this crowd was a more comfortably dressed type in jeans, sneakers and adorable sundresses. But it was CitySquare’s “A Night To Remember” with a double dose of comedian Jerry Seinfeld on stage. Yes, the first show had been a sell-out before the starting gun was even triggered. But somehow Co-Chairs Cindy and Scott Collier, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Kara and Ross Miller and Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins and Brandon Hawkins managed to get a second show at 9 p.m. and it was a done deal immediately, too!

Ross Miller, Scott Collier, Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Touchsteon-Hawkins and Wendy Messmann

Ross Miller, Scott Collier, Jerry Seinfeld, Tiffany Touchstone-Hawkins and Wendy Messmann

While the Winspear looked as filled as the State Fair’s Midway with photo booths, promos for the Del Frisco’s 5K Walk and Run and lines for the beverage bars, there were two behind-the-scenes activities underway.

One was in Hamon Hall, where in years past there had been a very seated dinner for patrons. Instead it was a filled-to-bulging-capacity cocktail party with curtained off arrangements of couches, open bars and music. It was here that the patrons learned that an incredible $1.3M had been earned so far by the event. Still they were hoping to top that marker by the end of the evening.

The other event was far more limited to the very top supporters. To gain access was harder than getting into a speakeasy next door to the temperance league. Once you passed muster, you were led down a long hallway leading to the bowels of the Winspear. Behind glass doors was a receiving room. Initially, there were just a handful of staffers and a man in a suit and tie. He was small in stature, but unbeknownst to others he was a giant in the entertainment industry. But more about him later.

As 100 people lined up on the other side of the glass door, Seinfeld entered the room. In a beautifully tailored suit and tie he introduced himself to the photographers and discussed the plans. It was obvious that he was an old hand at meet-and-greets and immediately agreed to the POA and set up. The little man stood on the sidelines. This was definitely not his first rodeo at grip-and-grinning, nor working with Seinfeld. But still he took everything in, monitoring the situation like a mother hawk watching her chick.

Jerry Seinfeld and Brenda and Larry James

Jerry Seinfeld and Brenda and Larry James

Jerry Seinfeld and Farrai and Steve Smith

Jerry Seinfeld and Farrai and Steve Smith

Jerry Seinfeld and Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

Jerry Seinfeld and Stephanie Fox and Nick Sowell

Jerry Seinfeld and Kara and Ross Miller

Jerry Seinfeld and Kara and Ross Miller

Then the doors opened and the crowd including Brenda and CitySquare’s Larry James and Farrai and Steve Smith queued up for a howdy-and-handshake with Seinfeld. The comedian was smooth and gracious. He directed a couple of dozen arrangements, positioning the female guest in the middle between him and her escort. Nick Sowell admitted that he was more than nervous in meeting Seinfeld. But it happened so fast that the jitters didn’t have time to cause a problem.

Bailey Balderson, Ella Jay, Merritt Jay, Jerry Seinfeld, David Siburt, Tyler Gaylor, Katie Siburt and Hanna Pool

Bailey Balderson, Ella Jay, Merritt Jay, Jerry Seinfeld, David Siburt, Tyler Gaylor, Katie Siburt and Hanna Pool

When a gaggle of kids arrived for a group shot, he shook each one’s hand. He advised an adorable blonde tyke to provide a firmer handshake. When an extra photo was taken of the kids, the little man urged the photographers to move on.

When the final photo was taken, Seinfeld bid farewell and disappeared through a door. No muss, no fuss.

Sunie Solomon

Sunie Solomon

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert

Chris and Ashlee Kleinert

Emilie Gioia, Jane Rozelle and Bob and Kathleen Rozelle

Emilie Gioia, Jane Rozelle and Bob and Kathleen Rozelle

Out in the lobby as notice was alerting the full house to move into the hall, guests like Sunie and Steve Solomon, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, Jane Rozelle with her bud Emilie Gioia, and Jane’s folks Kathleen and Bob Rozelle arrived.

As Seinfeld took the stage for the first show of the night, raising the roof with laughter, the behind-the-scenes story was starting to sink in. The diminutive gent was far more than a friend accompanying the legendary comedian. He was George Shapiro, whose life and input in the entertainment industry was the type that others just imagine or dream of experiencing.

George Shapiro*

George Shapiro*

Sure, his uncle is Carl Reiner and his cousin is Rob Reiner, but George was his own man. He was the wizard behind the showbiz curtain.

After graduating from the New York University, he and his childhood best friend Howard West got jobs in the William Morris mailroom. As George told Deadline Hollywood,“We were best friends and partners since we were 8. Old people don’t usually remember things so well, but I still have a vivid memory of him sitting alone in the schoolyard on his first day at P.S. 80 in the Bronx. I asked him to play basketball, and we just stayed as friends. We went to the movies every Saturday, we read comic books together and we chipped in to buy one car, a 1940 Olds called the Cream Puff. It needed a lot of work — that’s why we had to work so hard as busboys and waiters, always together.”

Soon George worked his way up to being an agent. One of his early assignments was to accompany a young singer to the Ed Sullivan Show. The singer was Elvis Presley.

Eventually he and Howard headed to Los Angeles and broke off on their own forming Shapiro/West Productions resulting in Emmys, Peabodys and Golden Globes.

As Jerry Oppenheimer said, “It was in Hollywood that Shapiro made a name for himself, ‘handling deals for Steve Allen; introducing new talent like Bill (Jose Jiminez) Dana, overseeing the creation of ‘That Girl,’ the long-running Marlo Thomas sitcom and discovering a range of talent from Jim Nabors to Andy Kaufman.”

It was in 1980 that George and Howard took in a show at The Comedy Store featuring a young comedian. The two were immediately struck by the youngster’s talent. Yup, you guessed it. The comedian was Jerry Seinfeld. The trio hit it off. So much so, they ended up becoming the executive producers of “The Jerry Seinfeld Show.”

After nine years on air and still growing in popularity, the network approached them with a deal that would result in $5M per episode for 22 episodes. Despite the mindboggling offer, Seinfeld wanted out. According to George, the trio went for a walk in Central Park and Jerry explained, “You know, as a standup comedian, you know, you feel you’re getting a standing ovation. And that’s the time to leave. You don’t want to stay on stage too long. You don’t want to stay on like another fifteen minutes so they say ‘Oh he was good but he was on a little long.’ My deepest gut, you know, is to leave now. Despite the offer and everything else.”

The final show aired on May 14, 1998, with an estimated 76.3M viewers (58% of all viewers that night) making it the fourth most watched regular series finale in U.S. TV history.

That was 18 years ago. But on this night the friendship and loyalty between Jerry and George was still as strong as ever with the 62-year-old comedian dazzling the audience and the 80-something George standing watchfully on the sidelines. The only thing missing was Howard, who had died this past December.

Just sometimes the action behind the curtains is as entertaining as the one onstage.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman