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.

North Texas Smarty Pants — TAG And Lee Park Jr. Conservancy — Make Kentucky Derby A Two-Day Fest Of Fundraising

Tired of hearing about event collisions? You know. That’s when two or three very interesting fundraisers are scheduled at the same time like this past Wednesday, when the luncheon slam-bang — Linz Award, Planned Parenthood and the Virginia Chandler Dyke — had guests making Solomon-like decisions. Not everyone can be a Janie McGarr, who attended the Linz VIP reception in the Omni’s Trinity Ballroom and then scooted on over to the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom for Planned Parenthood.

But how about some good news about two groups that had competed for the same type of guests and managed to make it all work this year?

Horse racing (File photo)

Back story: In past years, the Kentucky Derby has had the BrainHealth’s Think Ahead Group (TAG) and Lee Park Junior Conservancy holding their fundraisers at the same time to see the Run for the Roses. Ah, but this year those brainiacs came up with an idea — a two-fer by holding their event the night before to get the momentum underway plus celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Gee, no wonder they’re so dang smart!

So, here’s how North Texas is gonna celebrate the Kentucky equine race:

  • Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt (File photo)

    Friday, May 5 (8 p.m.-midnight) — TAG holds Cinco de Derby at Marie Gabrielle with margaritas and mint juleps complementing Mexican food. If you haven’t been to Marie Gabrielle, don’t tell a soul. It’s Dallas proper’s sweetheart of an oasis within the concrete forest. Proceeds benefit the Discovery Group, a program at the Center for BrainHealth that “works to improve quality of life after an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.” As for tickets, non-TAG member tickets are going for $87 and members save $20 for their $67 tickets.

To keep things rocking and rolling, wake up late morning and put on your prettiest frock and nattiest duds and prepare for fashionable strutting and horse racing watching. (Editor’s note: put tea bags on top of those partied-out eyes for 10 minutes before applying the makeup.)

  • Tyler Stevens, Gay Donnell and Camille Cain Barnes*

    Saturday, May 6 (4 – 7:30 p.m.) — For the big spenders, the 9th Annual Day at the Races Co-Chairs Camille Cain Barnes and Tyler Stevens announced at the kick-off party at Vineyard Vines that there will be a VIP private champagne reception at Arlington Hall and Lee Park starting at 4 p.m. But, please let the jeans, cowboy boots and leather fringe take the day off. This one demands true southern comfort sundresses and seersuckers topped off with smashing hats. Well, after all, there is a competition for the Best Dressed and Best Hat. If it’s a pretty day, there will be lawn games. But if it’s one of those drizzle days, don’t despair. (Alliteration is everything, don’t you know!). Inside Arlington Hall there will be a silent auction, a wagering table, live music and watching the Derby on major screens. Remember? You’re there for the Kentucky Derby. Tickets are available now with Lee Park Junior Conservancy members getting a thrifty $125 per person and non-members paying $150. For that VIP special, it’ll be $500 for two and it include “an invitation to attend the Patron Party in April.” Love perks!

If you haven’t been to either or both of these events, stand in the stand-out corner. There isn’t a zit in the crowd and even AARP types suddenly become young fillies and stallions.

* Photo provided by Lee Park Junior Conservancy

Lee Park Junior Conservancy Closes Down The Summer Around Hotel ZaZa Pool With Announcements For The Upcoming Year

Those millennials really know how to close down the summer in style. A passel of Lee Park Junior Conservancy (LPJC) peeps were at the Hotel ZaZa on Wednesday, September 7, to bid a fond farewell to the warm season. But along with the partying by the pretty peeps, there was news about the upcoming year for the Conservancy. Here’s a report from the field:

Lee Park Junior Conservancy End of Summer Party*

Lee Park Junior Conservancy End of Summer Party*

Last night the Lee Park Junior Conservancy hosted an End of Summer Poolside Party at Hotel ZaZa. Over 100 young professionals attended, with many new faces in the crowd. The event is a way for LPJC friends to gather and visit about their summer, hear updates from the Conservancy and meet others who are interested in learning more about the organization. Hotel ZaZa’s Riley Nail provided an assortment of delicious summery appetizers and donated 10% of bar sales back to the group.

The LPJC hosts many social events, but is dialing up service opportunities and business networking with other main Conservancy members this year. Several guests decided to join the JC, including 2010 “The Bachelor” Jake Pavelka.

Lauren Ives, Ryan Kirkham, Gay Donnell, Dominique Patton, Tiffany George, Nicole Jacobsen, Petrushka Dickinson, Anne DeFillipo, Sarah Jones and Joe Atkins*

Lauren Ives, Ryan Kirkham, Gay Donnell, Dominique Patton, Tiffany George, Nicole Jacobsen, Petrushka Dickinson, Anne DeFillipo, Sarah Jones and Joe Atkins*

But it wasn’t all fun and membership driving. There was news! The announcement of the LPJC’s new board of directors, who include President Lauren Ives, Vice President Anne DeFilillpo, Secretary Tiffany George, Treasurer Sean March, Membership Co-Chairs Francesco Mainetti and Ryan Kirkham, Service Chair Sarah Jones, Underwriting Co-Chair Joe Atkins and Brock Bridges, Volunteer Chair Petrushka Dickinson, PR Chair Nicole Jacobsen and Events Chair Dominique Patton.

Camille Cain Barnes and Tyler Stevens*

Camille Cain Barnes and Tyler Stevens*

And speaking of LPJC events, plans were also announced about the 9th Annual Day at the Races. Co-Chairs Camille Cain and Tyler Stevens will be in charge of the signature event on Saturday, May 6, that will take place at Lee Park with loads of beauties and beaus in their finest “classic Kentucky Derby chic” attire. And, yes, the 143th Run for the Roses will be on the big screen.

* Photo credit: 
Clark Cabus

Lee Park Junior Conservancy Creatively Revealed The “Goosebump-Making” 2016 Day At The Races Net

There are ways of announcing the results of fundraisers. There’s the good, old familiar check presentation. But then there is the more creative type, like the way the Lee Park Junior Conservancy did in reporting the results of their annual “Day At The Races.”

Teffy Jacobs, Kirsten Williams, Doris Jacobs and Whitney Brune*

Teffy Jacobs, Kirsten Williams, Doris Jacobs and Whitney Brune*

Since Co-Chair Wendy Messmann was unable to attend, Co-Chair Kirsten Williams drafted Honorary Chair Doris Jacobs to help in the presentation at the Trunk Club. Each was “given large cards with numbers on them to post in the right order. While the theme song from ‘The Price Is Right’ played, they made several attempts to the delight of the crowd, finally arriving at $81,460, double the previous year’s net income. Junior Conservancy President Whitney Brune Carroll said that she “got chills and goosebumps” when the number was announced.

And that amazing total couldn’t have come at a better time. According to Lee Park and Arlington Conservancy President/CEO Gay Donnell, “Lee Park has lost several trees that the Conservancy is looking to replace. Arlington Hall is also facing replacement of equipment that has aged since the Hall was restored 14 years ago.”

Thea Van Loggerenberg, Dean Driver and Sara Jones*

Thea Van Loggerenberg, Dean Driver and Sara Jones*

The sponsors of the winning fundraiser included Exxir Group/Nazerian Family —Thea Van Loggerenberg, Doris Jacobs, Four Roses Bourbon — Kent Grindinger, TRUNK CLUB, Consilium Lifestyle Collections—Dean Driver, The Barre Code Design District—Lori Lesneiwski, US Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth Management, Bailey Banks & Biddle/Longines, NorthPark, Whole Foods, Prashe/Flora & Eventi, Allie Beth and Pierce Allman and Sue Krider Dallas Real Estate.

* Photos provided by the Lee Park Junior Conservancy

Four Hundred Watch Nyquist Win The Run For The Roses As They Raise Money At TAG Derby Event For BrainHealth Center

Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt

Harold Scherrell, Alison Percy, Scott Caldwell and Dan Hunt

Dreamy and Jessi Gould

Dreamy and Jessi Gould

Cigars, seersucker, sunglasses and big hats were the order of the day when as many as 400 young professionals gathered on Saturday, May 7, for the Think Ahead Group’s Sixth Annual Kentucky Derby Party. The focal point of the derby-watching party was a big-screen TV set up in the green, tree-lined courtyard at Dallas’ beautiful Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens.

Greeting the lovely and handsome young things at the front door was Dreamy the 19-year-old Morgan with her handler Barbara Lewis.

Bethany Voss and Mike Rials

Bethany Voss and Mike Rials

Okay, besides the well-watched television, there was also delicious food—think chicken and biscuit sliders, mini-crab cakes and mint juleps—as well as a silent auction. All the attractions were to help TAG, a group of young professionals who raise funds for the Center for BrainHealth, bring in at least $50,000 for the center’s Alzheimer’s program.

At one point, the guests—among them Jessi Gould, Dr. Alison Percy, Dan Hunt, Harold Scherrell, Scott Caldwell, Mike Rials and Bethany Voss—crowded around the huge TV to watch the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. As cries of “Go, Nyquist!” were heard from the excited crowd, the race concluded with Nyquist holding off a late surge by Exaggeration to win the derby.

Watching the Run for the Roses

Watching the Run for the Roses

Then it was back to the mini-crab cakes … and many more mint juleps.

Lee Park Junior Conservancy Friends Tried On Chapeaus And Adult Beverages Prepping For 8th Annual Day At The Races

After the brutal beating parts of North Texas took the night before, it was amazing that anyone but insurance adjusters would be busy or collision centers would be celebrating on Thursday, March 24.

But leave it the nonprofits to keep hustling on Good Friday eve.

The WaterTower Spotlight Gala patrons were sipping grown-up beverages with a spectacular view of the Addison Natural beauty thanks to WaterTower supporters Barbara and Don Daseke.

Over at NorthPark’s The Theodore patio, about 100 of the Lee Park Junior Conservancy members and friends checked out all types of Derby fashions from NorthPark merchants. After all, the “Eighth Annual Day At The Races” will be taking place on Saturday, May 7, to celebrate/watch the 142nd Kentucky Derby. To still the chill of the cold front that landed in town, patio heaters and glasses of wine kept guests warmed.

Smart Hats

Smart Hats

In the farthest part of the patio, Stefani McMurrey had a pop-up hat boutique of her Smart Hats for guests to try on Derby-friendly chapeaus for possible wear at Lee Park’s Arlington Hall.

When asked if Stefani’s hats would be showing up at the Arboretum’s Mad Hatter’s Tea on Thursday, April 21, Stefani said, “Probably not.” Her reason was the Mad Hatter’s headwear tended to be of a different shape and size than Derby fashion.

On this evening, Co-Chair Wendy Messmann tried on a pink fascinator that went with her pink and white lace dress. It so impressed Wendy that she said the fascinator size would probably be her pick for the Saturday event.

Boyd and Wendy Messmann, Kirsten Williams and Peter Swanson

Boyd and Wendy Messmann, Kirsten Williams and Peter Swanson

Her Co-Chair Kirsten Williams in a black fascinator was getting more look at her ring finger. She and Peter Swanson had just gotten engaged the week before. Had they set a date? No. According to Peter, they were adjusting to being engaged.

Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy President/CEO Gay Donnell reported that in addition to having NorthPark as the sponsor of the Lee Park fundraiser, Doris Jacobs would be the honorary chair and the Jordan Kahn Band would be returning to entertain.

Last year more than 500 broke past records for attendance, so you just know Wendy and Kirsten are out to have another record broken. Tickets start at $150.

Three One-Of-A-Kind Experiences Will Go On The Aging Mind Foundation Auction Bloc Saturday

Choices, choices, choices! Bid on one or all three. That’s the dilemma facing 2016 Aging Mind Foundation Gala guests this Saturday at The Joule. As if it weren’t enough that the event benefiting the Center for BrainHealth and honoring Shirley and Bob Miller wasn’t enough, Gala Chair Barbara Daseke has put together three OMG live auction packages to get hands waving.

Here’s a rundown of the three:

Sky-high Dining In The Sky Room

Have you eaten in the best restaurants in the world and now are looking for a new, one-of-a-kind cuisine experience? This package will delights your sensory system by tantalizing your tastebuds, amazing your eyes and provide the wittiest of conversations just for your ears.

High atop Museum Tower, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer with the help of architect Bill Booziotis and interior designer Barbara Daseke have created the Sky Room with floor-to-ceilings windows and balcony overlooking Dallas. Dedicated to personal entertaining by Hulshoff and Fischer, it will be made available to the winner of this package and seven of his/her friends.

The menu will be a five-course dinner curated by The Joule’s chef with “special vintage wines” provided by Pogo’s sommelier.

As for food for thought, WFAA’s Ron Corning will be the ringmaster of chat. And, oh, the tales he has to tell!

Gotta To Go To Togo Island*

Togo Island isn’t really an island. It’s actually a peninsula in the bend of the Mississippi River neatly tucked between Mississippi and Louisiana just down the road from Vicksburg

Because of its location and the abundance of vegetation on its 7,207.7 contiguous acres, it is ideal for wildlife to flourish. In addition to the turkey, waterfowl, small game and fish, Togo Island’s White-tailed Deer have become legendary with even the most demanding world-renowned hunters like Will Primos.

Limited to by-invitation-only membership, Lane Mitchell has made available a hunting package for two people to have a three-night stay in the lodge with meals included plus two days of guided duck and deer hunting. While the dates for this outing are to be mutually agreed upon, Lane suggested that the premium hunting time is January 1-15, 2017.

Run For The Roses Weekend*

While the actual Kentucky Derby run only last two minutes, true-blue Churchill Downs partying and celebration is a four-day affair. This Kentucky Derby package is far more than just attending the track the day of the race. It’s strictly VVIP, so if you win this package, you’d better buy some pretty new things to impress the Louisville locals.

If you can make time in your schedule to arrive early on Thursday, May 5, you’ll be able to take a tour of the Slugger Museum or the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Take the night off and rest. You’ll need it for what’s up ahead.

Friday, May 6, you’ll have to make another Solomon’s choice between

  • A private tour of “the most famous and successful thoroughbred horses and farms in the world.” Perhaps one of the equine runners will give you a tip on which Derby entrant to bet on. And while the ponies are munching on oats, you’ll dine at Chef Ouita Michel’s Holly Hill Inn.
  • Attend Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks, where you’ll have an afternoon of horse racing including the run of the two-year-old fillies.

Just think of the stories you’ll be able to share that evening at the barbecue hosted by Carolyn and Yum! CEO Greg Creed and other yummy folks.

When the big day comes on Saturday, May 7, you’ll start off with a brunch in the gardens of Whitehall, Louisville’s historic southern mansion. But don’t dawdle too long because even with your police escort you’ll need to get to Churchill Downs for the people watching and the horses breaking from the gate for the 142nd Kentucky Derby.

After collecting your winnings, head back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep because the next day it’s time to head home.

This incredible package including hotel, ground transfers to/from the airport, activities and Churchill Downs, food and beverage at all group events including Churchill Downs are provided by Yum! You’ll have to take care of the wagering and personal hotel incidentals.

But perhaps live auctions aren’t your favorite indoor sport. Thank heaven, Barbara has arranged to have a Sue Gragg ring as the galamorama raffle item with chances going for $25 per or five for $100.

* Travel to and from locations is not included in the package.

JUST IN: Lee Park’s Junior Conservancy Announces 2015-2016 Board Plus New Development For Day At The Races

Lee Park’s Junior Conservancy has grown dramatically in recent years. One of the areas that has seen the greatest growth has been the annual Day At The Races. It’s the “largest annual fundraiser for the Park and Hall.”

Just got word from Conservancy President & CEO Gay Donnell that last night the Junior Conservancy revealed the new slate of officers for 2015-2016, as well as plans “to take the event (Day At The Races) to the next level in terms of fundraising for the Park and Hall.”

The announcements took place at Hotel ZaZa’s terrace surrounding the pool. Oh, but you want to know who and what was announced. Here goes!

The 2015-2016 Board of Directors will be:

Samara Mele Cude, Sarah Jones, Whiteney Brune, Tyler Stevens, Kelly Dowling, Kirsten Williams and Anne DeFilippo*

Samara Mele Cude, Sarah Jones, Whitney Brune, Tyler Stevens, Kelly Dowling, Kirsten Williams and Anne DeFilippo*

  • President – Whitney Brune
  • Vice President – Tyler Stevens
  • Secretary – Kelly Dowling
  • Treasurer – Samara Cude
  • Membership – Anne DeFilippo
  • Events – Sarah Jones
  • PR/Marketing/Communications – Lisa Collins and Jordan Kragen
  • Volunteer – Lauren Ives
  • Day at the Races Junior Conservancy Chair – Kirsten Williams
Wendy Messmann, Gay Donnelly and Kirsten Williams

Wendy Messmann, Gay Donnelly and Kirsten Williams*

As for the Day At The Races, Gay reports they “sought an experienced co-chair from the community. We are so excited to announce that the first Community Chair will be Wendy Messmann, who will work in tandem with JC Derby Chair Kirsten.”

According to Wendy, “I am so happy to be the first Community Chair for Day at the Races. Arlington Hall and Lee Park are a beautiful oasis in the heart of Dallas and so many families make memories there. It’s my privilege to help spread the Conservancy’s mission and educate others about what it takes to keep this peaceful green space looking so lovely.”

Day At The Races will take place at Arlington Hall on Saturday, May 7. Well, of course, it will. That’s when the Kentucky Derby will run for the roses.

* Photo provided by Lee Park Junior Conservancy

Center For BrainHealth’s TAG Cuties Were Off And Partying At The Empire Room For Day At The Races

This year’s Kentucky Derby was the perfect occasion to celebrate and fundraise in Dallas. The lawn of Lee Park in front of Arlington Hall grew with ladies in hats and gents in khakis waiting for the Day at the Races benefiting Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy. On the other side of I-35, the Center for BrainHealth’s TAG’s long-legged gals in sundresses and hats and fellows looking very dapper gathered at The Empire Room with horsepower in place thanks to Co-Chairs Gabi Sztamenits and Jodi Sparrow.

Jessica Edwards, Ashton Pearley, Gabi Sztamenits and Anne Brown

Jessica Edwards, Ashton Pearley, Gabi Sztamenits and Anne Brown

Mike Rials and  Bethany Voss

Mike Rials and Bethany Voss

Kinsey Blalock and Jason Stangel

Kinsey Blalock and Jason Stangel

Sullivan Franklin Mitchell, Adrienne Gehan and Natalie Chavez

Sullivan Franklin Mitchell, Adrienne Gehan and Natalie Chavez

But that horsepower was more than the four-legged variety. Sure, 18-year-old gelding Lazer was posing for photos, but it was the white Lexus inside that was being considered for future relationships.

Suzanne and Kevin Burns and Jaimee Perra

Suzanne and Kevin Burns and Jaimee Perra

As Suzanne and Kevin Burns and Jaimee Perra posed for photos at the Photomadic booth, they soon found themselves dining on fried macaroni and cheese and pecan tarts. What tasted best? “Everything!”

The trio of Katie Bivins, Judson Stafford and Stephanie Schwartz posed for a photo after sending a buddy home via Uber. Seems his legs, unlike Lazer’s, had gotten a bit wobbly due to partying and they wanted him to make it home safe and sound.

Katie Bivins, Judson Stafford and Stephanie Schwartz

Katie Bivins, Judson Stafford and Stephanie Schwartz

Editor’s note: Such friendship deserves a tip o’ the hat. In addition to friends making a smart choice for their “buddy,” the fellow agreed to being driven home without making a scene.

But back to the party. As the minutes ticked away for the horses to break at the Derby, the crowd could have cared less. They were having too much fun.

On the other hand, it appeared that the band was having issues. Looking like parents trying to put together a train set on Christmas Even with little success, the musicians tried their best even as the seconds clicked down to the Derby start.

Derby watching

Derby watching

But again, who cared? American Pharoah won, the long-legged gals looked fabulous and the fellows were two-minute racing experts. As soon as American Pharoah crossed the finish line, it was back to partying.

For more photos, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery!

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 5th Annual TAG Kentucky Derby

Suzanne and Kevin Burns and Jaimee Perra

Suzanne and Kevin Burns and Jaimee Perra

American Pharoah is on a roll with the Belmont up ahead. His start got underway at the Saturday, May 2nd Kentucky Derby with a bunch of adorable gals and gents watching at Dallas’ Empire Room. Besides killer-looking fashions — hats, sunglasses, bowties and frocks showing off long legs — the guests were also fundraising for the Center for BrainHealth’s TAG.

Derby watching

Derby watching

The 5th Annual TAG Kentucky Derby post is being prepped, but the pix can be found at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery now!

Round Robin April 15: Côtes Du Coeur Reception, Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Derby Day And Moonlight Ball Patron Parties

Accountants were hunkered down trying to meet the midnight tax deadline. But the evening of Wednesday, April 15, was one of those rare nights when the weather was ideal and partying indoors and out was incredible. Some of the events taking place included:

Côtes Du Coeur Reception

Kim Bannister, Mary Gill, Mary Martha Pickens and Wendy Messmann

Kim Bannister, Mary Gill, Mary Martha Pickens and Wendy Messmann

Heart disease survivor and fundraiser Mary Gill was being celebrated at Jimmy Choo in connection with the April 25th Côtes du Coeur benefiting the American Heart Association.

Jimmy Choo's Cinderella slipper

Jimmy Choo’s Cinderella slipper

It was a bittersweet occasion. Being toasted and surrounded by about 60 friends like Simona Beal, Elizabeth Washburn, Côtes du Coeur Gala Chair Kristen Johnston, Côtes du Coeur Chair Kate Rose Marquez, Kim Bannister, Mary Martha Pickens, Wendy Messmann, Kris Johnson, Cara French and Nancy Gopez cheered her a bit despite the recent loss of her brother Richie Humphreys, who succumbed to his years of battling cancer.

Helping add a touch of sparkle to the occasion was the presentation of Jimmy Choo’s made-to-order Cinderella shoe. Gals like Brittanie Buchanan Oleniczak tried it on. Even if the crystal-embellished shoe fit the lady’s foot, the glass slipper—a tie-in with the new “Cinderella” live-action movie, which was playing at the nearby Village Theatre—might have required a Prince Charming to help handle the near-$5,000 price tag.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Derby Day Patron Party

Aakash Patel

Aakash Patel

Susan Walker and Courtney Nall

Susan Walker and Courtney Nall

In Marion and Jim Moore‘s glorious house, Aakash Patel was playing his violin in the entry hall. About 35 guests were gathering for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s Wells Fargo Derby Day patron party, which helps support programs including the DSO Young Strings, of which Aakash is a graduate. Co-Chairs Courtney Nall and Susan Walker had arranged for the event at the Moores’ just days before the Wells Fargo-sponsored derby at Lone Star Park.

H.M. and Marilyn Hailey

H.M. and Marilyn Hailey

In the den, Marilyn and H.M. Hailey were settled down in a comfy couch. The former Neiman Marcus house model recalled her days of working the couture salon and Zodiac Room with models Virginia Muncy and Desi. It was during this period that Marilyn met legendary hat designer Frank Olive. She was so caught up with the milliner that she started collecting his hats. Today she has 40 Frank Olive creations.

Who knows? Maybe Marilyn wore one of her prized chapeaus at the Sunday, April 19, Derby Day.

Under The Moonlight Ball Patron Party

Bob Penn was at the door of his 87-year-old mansion for the rescheduled Ronald McDonald House of DallasUnder the Moonlight Ball patron party.

Mother Nature hadn’t been a very nice party guest for the previous Moonlight events. First the patron party had to be rescheduled due to snow, and then she dumped rain on the main event itself. Still, Moonlighters took it in stride. Despite the rain, they partied indoors at Trinity Groves and thank heaven they picked a perfect night for the patron party.

With the grounds looking just a kiss away from spectacular, the Penns threw open the terrace doors and the 45 guests took full advantage of the Penns’ hospitality and glorious home that sits on more than an acre in Highland Park.

Catherine Penn and Cate Ford

Katherine Penn and Cate Ford

Moonlight Co-Chair Cate Ford pointed out the faces carved into the staircase leading to the living quarters. There was a rumor that it was of Bob and his brothers as children. Then Cate checked out the charming panels featuring the Penn daughters in the living room.

Carved faces in stairway

Carved faces in stairway

Panel of Penn daughters

Panel of Penn daughters

Katherine Penn admitted that 30 years ago, when they moved into the house which was built in 1928, she thought it was way too big, but they eventually filled it up with kids and furnishings. Luckily, Katherine and Bob kept the Santa Barbara style home built by Bob’s folks intact with some slight adjustments. Katherine said that such things as air conditioning and electrical adjustments were a bit challenging. But they met the challenge.

One of the original homes built in the immediate neighborhood, the estate’s magnificent trees suffered no damage in last year’s straight-line winds. The secret? Katherine is vigilant about keeping the trees trimmed.

If ever the Penns invite you over, accept. This house is beautiful, inviting and historic.

Triple Crown Gala’s “Hats And Horses” Sunkissed Guests And Raised Funds For Equest With New Date And Venue

The Kentucky Derby is really starting to impact the Dallas non-profit landscape. On Saturday, May 3, Dallasites converged at various spots to wear hats, sip adult beverages and watch a race that lasts less than two minutes at Churchill Downs. There was the Center for BrainHealth’s TAG crowd who partied it up at the Dallas Arboretum and the Junior Conservancy’s Day at the Races at Lee Park tri-chaired by Lisa Bhattacharya, Annika Cail and Marvin Bradshaw.

But all the Derby Day watching wasn’t restricted to the Dallas city limits. Heck, no! The Equest crowd ponied up their fundraising up north.

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer

For months, Equest Triple Crown Gala Co-Chairs Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer had planned to have a sneak preview of Texas Horse Park for their Equest fundraiser. Since they knew it wouldn’t be totally finished, they recommended guests wear boots.

Another change was the date. Instead of avoiding the Saturday of the Kentucky Derby, they embraced it and set the time to coincide with the “Run for the Roses.” Just to top that, they created the theme “Hats And Horses”.

Jody Dean and Jocelyn White

Jody Dean and Jocelyn White

But as the May 3rd date got closer than a photo-finish, the gals plus their advisors Jocelyn White and Dawn Spalding and production coordinator Michelle Meadows realized that it might be too early for even a preliminary debut. With the clock ticking, the decision was made to move north to Souhfork. Michelle, who had been part of previous Cattle Baron’s at Southfork, knew every inch of the property and was ready for whatever came rain or shine.

As it turned out the wet stuff was nowhere in the county. But that  shine was mighty shiny as 400 arrived. Even before facing the rays of the Texas sun, guests had to figure out how to enter the Southfork property. Seems one side of Hogge Road running alongside Southfork was plowed up for construction with a sizable ridge of dirt lying between the ranch’s multiple gates and the road. As guests slowed their vehicles deciding which of the gates was the right one, a little horse sense was applied — Gate 1! After entering the property, guests discovered a welcome committee of horses, riders and check-in table in front of a mammoth white tent.

Jeremy Lock and D'Andra Simmons-Lock

Jeremy Lock and D’Andra Simmons-Lock

It soon became apparent that the tent was a Texas-sized parasol shielding all from the brighter-than-bright sunlight. Within its confines guests checked out long lines of silent auction items like a fabulous photo by award-winning photographer Jeremy Lock. . . Karen Lukin was taking questions about her loss of 40 pounds. She startled some by saying she still wanted to lose 15 more. How did she do it? The old-fashion way — exercising and watching her diet. . Despite the pasture under foot, Co-Chair Maggie somehow managed to navigate the area in her stiletto cowboy boots.

John and Jo Gudjohnsen

John and Jo Gudjohnsen

And speaking of footwear, Kersten Rettig was proudly showing off her brand new boots from Fort Worth’s M.L. Leddy’s. On the other hand, so to speak, she wasn’t all pleased with a bandaged-up-finger that had been the victim of a “dinjury”. What’s a dinjury? According to Kersten, it’s “an injury that occurs during the course of making dinner.” Evidently this has become a oft-happening occurrence. The night of the slicing of her finger, “Another lady was coming in the Highland Park ER with a ‘dinjury’ as I was leaving. She was in pain but complimented me on my effort to make a zucchini artichoke tart.” But on this day, Kersten was part of the team of judges (Jeff Byron, Louise Griffeth, Lezlie Noble and Blake Stephenson) for the hat contest.

Blake Stephenson and Kersten Rettig

Blake Stephenson and Kersten Rettig

Outside the tent, Jessica Shaw and Nicole Mangum were lining up for mini-smooching with one of the Equest ponies. . . Award-winning videographer John Gudjohnsen was preparing to record Bert Headden’s receiving the Susan Schwartz Founder’s Award. . . Brits Emily Hargrove in a fascinator and Jo Gudjohnsen in a brimmed pink chapeau compared notes about their home island on the other side of the pond.

Across the way, a large stage with screens and the Phil Pritchett band playing was fronted by rows of tables for dining and watching the Kentucky Derby.

Val Imm Bashour

Val Imm Bashour

At 4 p.m., DJ Jody Dean and Jocelyn took their places on a portable stage in the nearby pasture and coaxed guests from the tent to view the day’s program. Jocelyn laughed, “Watch what you ask for” referring to the sunshine. Those with wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses like Katherine Coker, D’Andra Simmons, Honorary Co-Chair Val Imm Bashour and Christie Carter looked relieved that they had decided to forgo the fascinators or bareheaded look. Others who opted to go hatless like Kevin Hurst and Key Coker ended up a bit red faced, literally. Evelyn Byron was the envy of many. In addition to having a ready-made chair thanks to her wheelchair complete with son Jeff doing the chauffeur duties, the 86-year-old had an umbrella. She was also being mistaken by some for being a former first lady.

Evelyn Byron and Jeff Byron

Evelyn Byron and Jeff Byron

Luckily for the horses, riders and other human critters, the demonstrations and presentation didn’t last long enough to work up too much of a sweat.

Then guests either headed back to the tent or their tables to watch California Chrome run for the roses.  Don’t tell but, some snuck out early. Seems they had to “refresh” before heading to The Art Ball at the Dallas Museum of Art.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Equest Triple Crown Gala

Phyllis Glazer

Phyllis Glazer

Too much of a good thing can be blinding.

That’s what the guests of the Triple Crown Gala discovered as the sun came out full force at Southfork on Saturday, May 3, for the Equest fundraiser.

Thank heaven, Co-Chairs Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer had announced that the theme would be “Hats and Horses.”

While the post of the gala is being prepared, you can have a gander of the Equest hatted and bareheaded types on the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery. This was one time when a fascinator was lovely but definitely lacking in the shade department.

Newly Announced 2014 Equest Triple Crown Gala Co-Chairs Shay Geyer And Maggie Kipp Reveal Changes For The Annual Fundraiser

Still more news on this Friday. The Equest crowd has hardly recovered from its fashion show and luncheon, than it just sent word that plans are underway for the 2014 Equest Triple Crown Gala!

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer (File photo)

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer (File photo)

Hold on to your ponies for this one! Change is definitely in the wind. Overseeing the changes will Gala Co-Chairs Shay Geyer and Maggie Kipp.

First development is the gala’s taking place on Saturday, May 3. Hmm, why does that date seem like a horsey day? Because it’s the same date as the Kentucky Derby. Instead of competing with the thoroughbred watching, the gals are going to start the gala at 3 p.m. with the Derby being broadcast live. So, it only makes sense to have the theme be “Hats & Horses, a Derby Day Soiree”.

After chairing this past spring’s Mad Hatter’s Tea, Maggie and Shay admit, “We know hats!”

Naturally, guests are encouraged to top off their looks with hats.

An even bigger change is the event’s location. The past two years the Triple Crown Gala has been held at the Park Lane Equestrian Center. Not for 2014. Instead, head your wheels to the Texas Horse Park for its inaugural event. This location will be Equest’s “second location.”

Equest rider Hillary with Dena Miller (File photo)

Equest rider Hillary with Dena Miller (File photo)

Initial plans call for “a hat contest, silent and live auctions and, of course, the annual crowd favorite — riding demonstrations by our amazing riders and horses of Equest!”

Helping Shay and Maggie will be Honorary Co-Chairs Val Imm Bashour and Phyllis Glazer. Equest Board Member Dawn Spalding and 2012 and 2013 Equest Triple Crown Gala Chair/Board Member Jocelyn White will serve as gala advisors.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Derby Plays More Than The Ponies For Fundraising At Lone Star Park

The ponies have been racing to the finish line at Lone Star Park for the past few weekends benefiting nonprofits like the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League. Here’s a report from the winner’s circle:

Heads or tails

Heads or tails

“Guests had so much fun with a unique way of raising money at the 2013 Wells Fargo Dallas Symphony Derby. “Heads or Tails” was a spin on the old coin toss game. Guests purchased colored bead necklaces and, when the time came for the game, those with necklaces were told to choose heads or tails. They put their hands on top of their heads or their hands on their “tails”. The coin was tossed and those who lost had to step out. The last remaining person was the winner of a new mini-iPad. It added a fun new way to raise additional funds.

“The Derby event on April 14 brought the atmosphere of the famous Kentucky Derby to Dallas, complete with hats, horses and mint juleps. It marked the sixteenth year the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League has partnered with presenting sponsor Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie and the ninth year with title sponsor Wells Fargo. The Derby included a buffet lunch in the Silks Dining Room overlooking the final turn and finish line of the track, as well as live and silent auctions with fantastic prizes. In addition, wagers on any horse race were possible with the help of a personal valet.

“After a few musical interludes were played by Young String performers, Derby Chair Mari Epperson reminded the guests that the proceeds benefit the Dallas Symphony’s Education and Outreach Programs.

Becky and Brad Todd served as Honorary Chairs of the event. Sharon Barbee is President of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League.”

Photo provided by Dallas Symphony Orchestra League

April 3 Round Robin: Connected City, Bigs And Day At The Races

Wednesday was a busy evening for Dallas nonprofits, with gatherings held for causes ranging from improving city parks to helping children in need.

Connected City

At the NYLO Dallas South Side hotel, more than 150 people turned up to hear plans outlined for the new Connected City Design Challenge. A joint project of the City of Dallas’ CityDesign Studio and the Trinity Trust Foundation, the challenge is an open call for urban design strategies to connect downtown Dallas with the Trinity River Corridor Project.

Mary Suhm, John Scovell and Gail Thomas

Mary Suhm, John Scovell and Gail Thomas

With attendees ranging from foundation CEO Dr. Gail Thomas and Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm to businessmen like Garrett Boone and John Scovell, the event celebrated a process that will include two idea streams: a professional stream and an “open” stream.

Brent Brown

Brent Brown

According to CityDesign’s Brent Brown, each of three professional design streams will be awarded $50,000 for their ideas, while four finalists in the open stream will receive $5,000 each. Larry Beasley, a top urban planner, will serve as chief curator for the competition, whose deadline for submissions is Sept. 19.

Said Thomas: “This is the most important project Dallas has ever attempted to return the city of Dallas to the river.”

Big Brothers, Big Sisters

Trammell S. Crow

Trammell S. Crow

Over at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, meanwhile, Trammell S. Crow was hosting a reception for Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star. Lone Star is the nation’s largest BBBS agency, with operations stretching from Abilene and Dallas to Houston and San Angelo. Tammy L. Richards, who was about to mark her 6-month anniversary as president and CEO, said Lone Star serves 10,000 children with one-to-mentoring.

Reuben Howard

Reuben Howard

One of them—Reuben Howard, the agency’s Little Brother of the Year—told about 50 attendees how he had been inspired by his Big Brother, Drew Swedlund, to become more active at school and to apply to Harvard, which has now accepted him. Drew spoke next—“I should have gone first, because Reuben was so good,” he joked—and explained that he and his wife came to love Reuben “just like he was my real brother.”

Donna and Herb Weitzman and Ana and Don Carty

Donna and Herb Weitzman and Ana and Don Carty

The agency also presented awards to longtime BBBS supporters Donna and Herb Weitzman and Ana and Don Carty. Don, a former chairman of the BBBS national board, said, “It’s hard not to have passion for this cause when you hear stories like” Reuben’s and Drew’s. Donna told how Herb had procured and donated office space for the group locally, and now is looking to do the same in Houston.

Among those attending the reception were Ed Okpa, Marti Carlin, Dr. Joy Macci and Bill Wallace, and Carmaleta Whiteley and James Schackelford.

Day At The Races

Gay Waltrip Donnell and Laurie Sands Harrison

Gay Waltrip Donnell and Laurie Sands Harrison

Across town at the beautiful home of Laurie Sands Harrison, more than 100 people showed up for the patron party for the fifth annual Day at the Races benefiting the Lee Park Junior Conservancy.

Jose Reyes and Michelle Scott

Jose Reyes and Michelle Scott

Honorary chair for the May 4 Kentucky Derby event is Laurie’s mother, Caroline Rose Hunt, while Michelle Scott and Jose Reyes are co-chairs. Gay Waltrip Donnell, president and CEO of the Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy, explained that funds raised will go to develop Lee Park and for the conservation and preservation of Arlington Hall. According to Reyes the event’s fundraising goal is $50,000, and “it looks good right now.”  

This year the organizers are expecting 500 people for the party at Lee Park and Arlington Hall. It will feature a Derby Hat contest, entertainment by lounge singer Ricki Derek, and a silent auction. Several of the auction items were on display Wednesday night, including six Baccarat Vega Martini Glasses and eight Pickard Signature Monogram Dinner Plates.

The Races

The Races


And They Were Off And Running In Dallas For The Roses, BrainHealth And Lee Park With Big Turnouts

So the ladies of the Arboretum’s Women’s Council may have cornered the market when it comes to the world of whimsical hat occasions with its Mad Hatter’s Tea. But giving the Hatters a run for its money is Derby Day. No, not like the restaurant, but like the Kentucky Derby. Sure, it’s in Kentucky and the only local connection lately has been Lisa and Kenny Troutt‘s Super Saver in 2010, but you don’t have to be in Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.


Briggs' estate grounds

This year the running of the roses fell on the same day as Cinco de Mayo (May 5), so it was definitely open to a slight tweaking of the usual horse-race celebration. But to do it just right took brains and that was no problem for the Think Ahead Group (TAG) Derby folks, since they were raising funds for BrainHealth. Co-chairs Ginna McLanahan and Molly Soper seamlessly blended the two celebrations with the theme, “Sombreros & Seersuckers.” They also man-

Faye Briggs

aged to bring the event back for a second year to Faye Briggs‘ estate, despite Faye’s having just gotten out of the hospital after a nasty lung infection. Most folks would have stayed in bed propped up with pillows watching the race on a big, old HDTV, but not Faye. No way. There’s nothing she loves more than raising funds and the fun of having young people filling the house and grounds.

Dr. Sandi Chapman

BrainHealth brain Dr. Sandi Chapman was thrilled with the turnout on the beautiful day. Last year’s event drew 200 and they doubled it this year making it TAG’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Perhaps that’s why everywhere you looked you saw all types of hats, sundresses, heels and good-looking people.

Briggs estate terrace

Despite delicious margaritas, mint juleps and other grownup beverages being served up, there

Lara Sorokolit

was more action than imbibing taking place. The entire back acreage of the Briggs estate was filled with a Taste of the South tent next to a taco

Katie Bivins

stand, a Southern Sips Bar, Derby Rafffle, Lawn Games & Lounge and  a Photo Booth with a Blue Grass Band playing away.  On the covered terrace, donuts were being made by Lil’ Bits Mini across the way from another Southern Sips Bar.

Keith Conlon and Catherine Schreiner

Perhaps that’s why getting on to the grounds became as challenging as a rocking horse winning the Ken-

Rachel Hawes and Kelly White

tucky Derby. While some guests simply gave up the wait for valets and parked their cars a block or so away, others patiently waited their turn as the non-stop car parkers raced the course. One older gent who evidently was not attending the party and found going against the lineup frustrating, saluted the waiting guests in a way that would have been scrambled out on television.

As some guests were leaving, a police car pulled up and an officer headed to the front door. Was he arresting the diminutive Faye for a too-successful party? Or was it illegal to have a horse politely standing in the front of the house to greet guests? Neither. He was just checking on “Mrs. Briggs” because everyone in the department is so fond of her. Dadgummit, here there might have been a TMZ moment of seeing Faye in handcuffs being led to the squad car.


Alden Katz, Jennifer Bock, Leslie Ford, Erin Jesberger and Abigail Baber

Across town at Arlington Hall in Lee Park, the Junior Conservancy held its 4th annual “Day at the Races” to raise funds for the “development, conservation and maintenance” of the park and hall. While it was a similar number of good-looking stylish types, the tone was much more in keeping with the Derby.

Norah Meier

Ladies’ hats were strictly Kentucky-types ranging from fascinators to big-brims. What else could be

Whitney Williamson

expected by a bit of southern comfort to go along with the look and that was supplied by Woodford Reserve’s mint juleps and fine southern cuisine? For entertainment, lawn games once

Diane Wilson, Sharla Stevanovic, Nicole Lee and Brittney Woodward

again were the civilized play with music provided by Justin Cash. There was one spot on the lawn fronting Turtle Creek where the men

Vladimir Stevanovic, Ashley and John Pope

gathered. Was it a hot babe? Hot, yes. Babe, not quite. It was a table where a craftsman was hand rolling cigars.

For the VIP guests Co-chairs Alex Baker and Lauren Lapeyre arranged access to the private terrace and “upgraded bar” complete with Herradura Tequila margaritas and Cinco de Mayo tidbits. You didn’t think they were going to actually ignore the Mexican celebration, did you?

Watching the Kentucky Derby

Ah, regardless of the ticket status, all gathered in the Great Hall to watch the race on the mega-screen when start time came. Whether you were born with a racing form in your hand or just loved the movie “Secretariat,” everyone got into the thrill of the moment as I’ll Have Another surprised all including Bodemeister.

Susan Rucks, Amanda Porter and Katherine Ritchey

Then it was back to partying both at Churchill Downs and in Dallas.

Share-A-Date: Day At The Races

Day at the Races (File photo)

Saturday, May 5: The Kentucky Derby may be celebrating its 138th year of running the horses at Churchill Downs, but the Lee Park Junior Conservancy is gearing up for its 4th Annual Day at the Races. Thanks to presenting sponsor Park Place Volvo, Arlington Hall at Lee Park will be brimming with gals in elegant chapeaus and nattily attired gents. Besides being a great excuse to party, the event also raises “funds for the development, conservation and maintenance of Lee Park and Arlington Hall.”

Because it’s such a civilized gathering in honor of the Derby, event co-chairs Alex Baker and Lauren Lapeyre have arranged for “fine southern cuisine and beverages, including Woodford Reserve mint juleps, cigar rolling, lawn games, live entertainment by Justin Cash” and “over-the-top raffle packages, race prices and best dressed and hat contests.” Of course, Junior Conservancy members get a discount on tickets, but who’s quibbling when you’re eating, drinking and derbying.

If it’s a beautiful day, then the rolling lawn leading down to Turtle Creek will be opened to the gathering . . . until the big race gets under way. Then all will head to the big-screen flat screens to see the “run for the roses.”

The VIP crowd will naturally get the perks of the day including “hassle-free check-in, passed hors d’oeuvres and premium southern cuisine, access to the private terrace and upgraded bar, including Herradura Tequila margaritas and sampling in honor of the Kentucky Derby’s Cinco de Mayo date.”

You did know that May 5 is also Cinco de Mayo, didn’t you? Do you think they’ll be serving ceviche and tequila shots in Louisville? Neither do we.

Share-A-Date: 15th Annual Racing For Sight

Faye Briggs, Leesa Alhadef and Cindy Stager (File photo)

Sunday, April 22, 2012: The ponies will be off and running for the 15th Annual Racing For Sight benefiting the Retina Foundation of the Southwest. Think Royal Ascot, but add in a bunch of fun and never-ending food and drinks. No, not on the track but up in the glassed-in, climate-controlled grandstand. You can bet and fret over racing forms.

This year’s Race Chair Stacey Relton will be joined by Honorary Chairs Vinette and Mike Montgomery.