Family, Friends And Officials Celebrate The Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway Designation With Memories And Champagne Toasts

There was a chill in the air and the forecast of light snow in the days ahead. But neither that nor Annette Simmons‘ in-recovery cough was going to prevent a special announcement from being made regarding Annette’s late husband, Harold C. Simmons, on Friday, January 12.

Jerry Fronterhouse, Amy Simmons Crafton, Annette Simmons and Don Huffines

Even state politicos like Sen. Don Huffines and State Rep. Morgan Meyer with their staffs had arranged to be on hand for the occasion at Annette’s and Jerry Fronterhouse‘s home. Morgan, who’d just returned from a legal proceeding in New England, hadn’t let the big northeastern blizzard keep him from pulling up in his SUV in Simmons’ driveway.

The day had been a long time coming. While entrepreneur/philanthropist Harold had died in 2013, his legacy was continuing, thanks to his widow Annette and their blended family.

Morgan Meyer, Lisa Simmons Crafton and Joe Crafton

Before the “official” part of the event began, guests gathered in the home’s formal living room to chat. Morgan and Simmons’ daughter Amy Simmons Crafton were comparing notes about the new four-legged additions in their families. Amy and husband Joe Crafton had Grace, a four-month-old Golden Retriever, and Morgan had a four-month Retriever named Scout that had already had a run-in with the Meyers’ son, Asher.

Signed Act designating Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway

The last to  arrive was Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was immediately welcomed by Annette.

Over on a table was the official paperwork signed in October that designated the section of Preston Road (aka State Highway 289) from Northwest Highway to Royal Lane as the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway, thanks to the Simmons family, Greg, Don and Morgan. 

Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

As the group assembled in the living room, the Simmons’ longtime friend Texas Tech University Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance kicked things off, recalling Harold’s sense of humor. According to Kent, when Harold “called to congratulate me on becoming chancellor, I said, ‘I dreamed last night that you gave Texas Tech $100 million.’ Harold said, ‘You must have had a nightmare.’”

Next up was Don, who stood next to Greg and applauded Harold’s brilliance at entrepreneurship and patriotism. “He believed in America, in American exceptionalism, and in the great state of Texas,” Don said. “He loved the Republican Party … I don’t think we can find a better patriot—a [more] virtuous patriot—and Harold was that. The least we can do is honor him with a couple of signs on Preston Road.”

Don was followed by Morgan, who noted the late billionaire’s longstanding support of nonprofits. At the time of his death, Harold and Annette Simmons’ charitable contributions had provided many hundreds of millions of dollars to countless nonprofits, ranging from the Mineola Volunteer Fire Department to the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation. Just the year before his death, Harold personally gave away millions, including $50,000 to the Rayfield Wright Foundation, $60,000 to Hunger Busters, and more than $1 million to Buckner Children and Family Services.

Jerry Fronterhouse, Lisa Simmons and Don Glendenning

After Don and Morgan spoke, Annette assembled the people who had supported the Simmonses through the years—including their drivers, security people, and house staff—to be formally recognized. Besides Joe and Amy—she had donated a kidney to Harold—also on hand were Harold’s daughter Lisa Simmons, Annette’s son Andy Fleck with Andy’s son Austin Fleck, and Harold’s longtime lawyer Don Glendenning.

Andy Fleck, Kent Hance and Austin Fleck

With Annette seated next to him, Greg said that Harold would be remembered for “doing everything [he could] to protect the freedoms that have made America the greatest country in the world.”

Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

With a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous smile, Annette looked at Greg and recalled a Dallas Cowboys football game where “you were visiting with [Harold]. I said to him, ‘What were you two talking about?’ And he said, ‘I just asked him how much he needed.’”

There were also small, personal memories of Harold. It seems, for example, that Harold’s sense of humor was not diminished after he had his kidney transplant, courtesy of Amy. Following the surgery, he gave Amy earrings and a necklace to commemorate their “relationship.” Every now and then Harold would tease her to wear his “kidney stones.”

Amy Simmons Crafton, Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

The group then moved into the study for the unveiling of a prototype of the two signs that were being installed on Preston at that very moment. The room was dominated by a portrait of Harold at age 68 or so, and another of the Simmonses’ Springer Spaniel, Duke, which had been painted by their friend, former President George W. Bush.

Duke

Upon checking out the new sign proclaiming the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway, Don and Greg jokingly debated whether the color tended to be Aggie maroon.

Joe, looking at Greg, asked with a laugh whether the Simmons highway designation meant it’s “true that Amy cannot get a speeding ticket on the Harold Simmons Memorial Highway?” Retorted the governor in the same spirit: “Just wait until we add another three lanes on either side!”

Greg Abbott and Annette Simmons

With that, Annette and Jerry asked everyone to join them in a champagne toast to the naming of the highway.

Don Huffines

Don Huffines

Don then did a double presentation. First, he presented a framed photo of the signing of the legislative act designating the miles in Harold’s name. Then, a copy of Harold’s biography, titled “Golden Boy,” was presented to Greg. When Annette and Jerry realized that Greg had not read the book yet, a pen was produced and Annette personalized it for the governor.

Jerry Fronterhouse and Annette Simmons and Greg Abbott

After all the accolades and toasts had been completed, Jerry raised his glass one more time, this time to honor Annette, saying how her efforts to salute her late husband’s accomplishments were to be applauded. “She shaped his thinking, I’m sure,” Jerry said. “You all were a great team—probably one of the most powerful husband-and-wife teams in Texas.”

For more photos from the reception, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway Designation Reception

Morgan Meyer, Don Huffines, Kent Hance and Greg Abbott

In these parts the importance of events can’t be judged by the number of guests. Such was the case on the afternoon of Friday, January 12, at Annette Simmonsand Jerry Fronterhouse‘s estate. The crowd was made up of less than 25, but what a heady group it was — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, State Sen. Don Huffines, State Rep. Morgan Meyer, Texas Tech University System Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance and the blended family and friends of the late Harold Simmons.

Greg Abbott and Annette Simmons

The occasion was the champagne toast for the designation of the Harold C. Simmons Memorial Highway. As the signage was being put into place along Preston Road extending from Northwest Highway to Royal Lane, accolades and memories were shared in the home where Harold had lived for decades.

While the post is being finalized, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Everything Was Coming Up (Caroline) Roses (Hunt) At Communities In School Dallas Region’s Dream Achievers Award Luncheon

Sara Martineau had hardly settled down at a high-top table in the portioned off area of Rosine Hall at the Dallas Arboretum on Friday, February 12. She was told that “news” had just broken that Carolina Herrera would be the feature designer complete with a personal appearance at the 2016 Crystal Charity Ball Fashion Show and Luncheon.

Sara Martineau and Mary Brinegar

Sara Martineau and Mary Brinegar

With that she gave out a whoop of delight and told Dallas Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar, “I already have one!”

As babies in strollers were chauffeured around the grounds and flowers transitioning from buds to blossoms, Mary admitted that the day was incredible for early February. But she also knew that a late February/early March cold blast could change things dramatically.

However, on this day it was just perfect for the Communities in Schools Dallas Region’s Dream Achievers and Dream Maker awards.

Bob Brackbill and Caroline Rose Hunt

Bob Brackbill and Caroline Rose Hunt

As honoree Caroline Rose Hunt and buddy Bob Brackbill took their place at chairs in the hall for a receiving line, a guest accidently decided to sit a seat or two over. Oops! A CISDR rep suggested to the guest that the chairs were for Caroline and her family. With that the guest hopped up and moved her smartphone to another area of the room.

Kristy Morgan and Patrick Sands

Kristy Morgan and Patrick Sands

But it was an easy mistake to make, since other members of the family like Patrick Sands and his fiancee Kristy Morgan were making the rounds chatting with CISDR Financial Advisor Bob Scott.

At noon nearly 100 guests like Billie Leigh Rippey, past Dream Achievers Awardee Tincy Miller, Caryl Keys, Bobbie Sue and Phil Williams and Mary Frances Burleson, made their way to the other part of Rosine Hall for the luncheon program. As they entered a video was on a large screen, but it couldn’t be heard over the chatter.

Blake Lewis and Lisa Loy Laughlin

Blake Lewis and Lisa Loy Laughlin

With CISDR Philanthropy Officer Lisa Loy Laughlin serving as emcee, she had newly named CISDR Board Chair Blake Lewis started the program with the invocation and followed it up by reading a proclamation from Mayor Mike Rawlings extolling Caroline’s support and leadership in the community.

At 12:10 State Sen. Don Huffines led the group in the pledge of allegiance with a mammoth flag projected on the screen. Don then presented Caroline with a flag that had flown over the state capital.

Judith Allen-Bazemore

Judith Allen-Bazemore

While guests started eating their lunch, Lisa thanked the event sponsors and Blake returned to the podium introducing Dr. Judith Allen-Bazemore, who explained CISDR’s mission to focus on academics and attendance as well as social skills. For Judith and the CISDR team, the students “don’t just live in the city of Dallas. They are the city of Dallas.”

To provide the variety of students that CISDR works with, a video was shown with stories on three young people — a boy who overcame homelessness and is now going to college, a young mother and a youngster who had been bounced around the foster system with CISDR being the constant in his life.

Judith followed the video telling how CISDR works with kids who the state of Texas claims that they won’t do well and won’t graduate and the three in the video were proof that they could do well and could graduate. She backed that up with facts and figures. Of the 9,165 cases-managed students in the 2014-2015 school year:

  • 96% stayed in school
  • 89% improved academics, attendances and/or behavior
  • 95% promoted to the next grade level
  • 91% of eligible seniors graduated
Don Huffines

Don Huffines

Returning to the podium, Don told how his involvement with CISDR started when he was assigned to Madison High School back in the 1990s as a CIS mentor. Through this program and others, he has come to realize and support the fact that “Children are our future.”

At 12:37 Lisa was introduced a video interview that she had done with Caroline. It opened with “Sweet Caroline,” and revealed that Caroline’s earliest influences were teachers at Hockaday especially in the fields of ancient history, writing and Latin. When asked what value was most important to her, Caroline said, “Integrity.” She went on to say that if she had been born a man, she would have probably been a doctor. In concluding he was asked what advice she would give her children. Caroline smiled and said Corinthians 13. She added “Faith, hope and love… not just physical love but emotional love.”

As the video ended, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” plays.

Eduardo Pulido

Eduardo Pulido

In presenting the Dream Achiever Award, Judith and Blake gave the Ansel Adams photograph “Rose and Driftwood” to Caroline that the CISDR students had selected because it was a rose and wood. Each child signed the back of the frame.

In accepting the award, Caroline admitted, “I’m overwhelmed.”

After a break, CISDR Senior Program Coordinator Rey Maldonado presented the Dream Maker Award to a surprised CISDR Area Team Manager Eduardo Pulido. He had no idea that he had been selected until his name was announced.