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.

Zoo To Do Guests Had A Hoot Of A Time At Escada

There are party animals and then there are party animals. And when the Zoo To Do crowd makes up the guest list, there are bound and determined to be some of the Dallas Zoo’s ambassadors among the group.

Carol Glendenning, Diane Brierley, Cassie, Carol and John Levy

Carol Glendenning, Diane Brierley, Cassie, Carol and John Levy

Flighty fella

Flighty fella

On Tuesday, May 17, the two-legged types and critters gathered at Highland Park Village’s Escada salon. Since husbands/Zoo To Do’s Silver Safari Co-Chairs Don Brierley and Don Glendenning had other commitments, their better halves (aka Diane Brierley and Carol Glendenning) joined fellow Co-Chair John Levy and his wife Carol Levy and other guests like Lee Bailey and former Escada GM Melissa Rathke to check out the fashions and food benefiting the zoo.

While the humans arrived via the front door, the ambassadors snuck in through the back entrance. Don’t you just know those celeb types are always sneaking in side doors to avoid the paparazzi?

One of the literal highlights of the occasion was the owl, who upon spying the table of appetizers decided to take flight for the spread. Thanks to his handler Cassie’s leash, his airborne antics didn’t ruffle any food, fashions or feathers except his.

Round Robin May 16: Kids Come First Partners’ Roundup And Frontiers Of Flight Museum Gala

And the fundraising continued into the night of Saturday, May 16. The Flight YPO Gala was taking place at the Hall of State at Fair Park for Vogel Alcove. Over at the Dallas Zoo, the Kids to Do was underway, with the Giants of the Jurassic having 18 animatronic dinosaurs competing with the Giants of the Savanna for giant attention. And still more was happening like:

Kids Come First Partners’ Roundup

In the past the Communities in Schools of the Dallas Region’s Kids Come First Partners’ Roundup Party has embraced the western way of partying. A couple of years ago, they hoe-downed at Eddie Deen’s. Last year it was at Brook Hollow, with guests looking like they were expecting a rodeo in the ballroom.

But some folks decided the fundraiser needed just a little polishing. In other words, keep the spirit of fun but dress it up with silks, satins and suits instead of denims and bandanas. Despite the decision to dress up, still some die-hards just wouldn’t give up their boots and jeans.

Allie Beth and Pierce Allman

Allie Beth and Pierce Allman

Betty Turner and Lois Dusza

Betty Turner and Lois Dusza

But the vast majority of the 300 guests including Honorary Co-Chairs Allie Beth and Pierce Allman, Betty Turner and Lois Dusza got all gussied up and were photographed in frames held by students.

Michael Morrison, John Early and Bob Stegall

Michael Morrison, John Early and Bob Stegall

Event Chair Cynthia Beaird even arranged to have the place decorated with a “bluegrass/Kentucky” theme complete with “Silver Mint Julep” drinks and music provided by Milo Deering’s Hickory Hill band. Cynthia’s husband, musician Brice Beaird, was late to arrive. Seems he was doing the music at St. Michael’s.

Back row: Lisa Laughlin, Natalie Regen and Cynthia Beaird; front rows: CIS students

Back row: Lisa Laughlin, Natalie Regen and Cynthia Beaird; front rows: CIS students

As the silent auction including celebrity guitars and sports memorabilia was checked out and casino games played, Lisa Laughlin rehearsed the DISD’s John Reagan Elementary School students in “Getting to Know You.” The presentation by CiS students is always a highlight and reminds guests that the event is a major fundraiser to support the group’s mentoring and tutoring program for at-risk kids.”

Sandra Chavarria

Sandra Chavarria

It was an especially poignant evening, since CiS CEO Sandy Chavarria was retiring. She’ll be replaced by present CiS President Dr. Judith Allen-Basemore. To commemorate Sandy’s leadership, she was presented with Sandy’s Super Scholars “to continue her legacy in the Dallas region and to help students experience travel outside of their neighborhood.”

After all the formal presentations were done, the informal partying got underway with dancing and loads of selfies.

Frontiers of Flight Museum Gala
Mary Jalonick

Mary Jalonick

Judy and Patrick Kelly

Judy and Patrick Kelly

Those hifalutin types like Joanne Stroud, Mary Jalonick and Judy and Patrick Kelly lived up to their monikers at the Frontiers of Flight Museum Gala on the upper level of the Frontiers of Flight Museum with planes floating in the background.

Frontiers of Flight Museum Gala

Frontiers of Flight Museum Gala

Silver-haired U.S. Representative Pete Sessions was three-deep with folks seeking his counsel and vice versa. Across the way, U.S. Representative Sam Johnson was a wee bit less center ring and doing the one-on-one with constituents.

Pete Sessions

Pete Sessions

Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson

Frontiers of Flight Museum’s Cheryl Sutterfield was sky-high about the sold-out affair and having Amelia Earhart as the keynote speaker. No, it wasn’t the Amelia Earhart, who disappeared back in 1937. Rather, it was Amelia Rose Earhart, the youngest woman to fly around the world in a single-engine aircraft back in 2014.

Amelia Rose Earhart

Amelia Rose Earhart

After last year’s event honoring the U.S. astronauts, it was hard to follow up, but they did. To add to the polish, the George E. Haddaway Award was presented to Sean Donohue. In addition to his being D/FW International Airport’s CEO, he has also served as Virgin Australia Airlines COO.

Part of the evening’s presentation was a video — “The Dirty 1/2 Dozen.” It showed a special ops team arriving in a Huey Helicopter and “busting” into the Museum using night gear. When the commandos lifted their night goggles, they turned out to be Fort Worth Mayor Betsy “The Mayor” Price, former Fort Worth Mayor Mike “Rider” Moncrief, Mark “Air Boss” Duebner, Bill “Coach” ThortonSam “The Negotiator” Coates, Dale “Big-Picture” Petroskey and Lillie “The Chair” Biggins. The commander calling the shots in a darkly lit room was none other than Dallas Mayor Mike “The Commander” Rawlings. One person noted that there were seven in the half dozen. Perhaps the filmmakers were thinking Baker’s Half Dozen.

Six of the team then appeared in formal attire raising flutes of champagne to toast Sean. Then in real life, Sean emerged from a helicopter in the Museum escorted by members of the Liberty Jump Team and took his place at the podium.

Laura Leppert and Jess Hall

Laura Leppert and Jess Hall

Steve Lamb and Deborah Ferguson

Steve Lamb and Deborah Ferguson

Ross and Juliette Coulter and Stacey and John Lanius

Ross and Juliette Coulter and Stacey and John Lanius

Talk of the night included former Dallas first lady Laura Leppert updating friends about the November 11, 2015, Daughters of Wold War II celebration…Emcees NBC5/evening Deborah Ferguson and husband WBAP sports anchor Steve Lamb were doing double duty as a date night…Another date night was underway for Juliette and Ross Coulter and Stacey and John Lanius.

MySweet2015Goals: Lisa Longino

According to fundraiser Lisa Longino,

Lisa Longino (File photo)

Lisa Longino (File photo)

“My goals…serious, though actually really funny if you think about what I’m attempting to do!!!!!!!! (trying to keep this very old brain from drying up).

“I’m learning to fly…trying to get my pilots license (have 6 hours of dual training so far)…long way to go!

“And I’m continuing to learn how to speak Italian….can just see your eyes rolling around at the thought of my Eastern North Carolina Italian. Anyway, I HAVE spent five weeks in an immersion course in Montepulciano!

“Ciao e buona notte!”