Weather Played Nicely For The 38th TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon Honoring Rebecca Fletcher And James E. Wiley Jr.

Was it just a year ago that TACA Carlson President/Executive Director Becky Young was walking her pooch and questioning the future of the day’s Silver Cup luncheon? Sure, it was a knock-out, slippery, icy day with traffic reports boding it wasn’t the best for folks to be out. But Becky didn’t want to let Silver Cup honorees Catherine Rose and Don Glendenning miss their tributes. And then there were all those preparations — the food, the flowers, the entertainers and those hundreds and hundreds of guests!

After checking with the local TV weathercasters, Becky was thinking that postponement might be best. But the final push to pull the plug was honoree/attorney Don chiming in that he didn’t want to think of anyone being harmed trying to get to the event.

With that the event was put on ice, literally. But lemonade resulted from the lemon of a weather situation. Flowers were sent to area hospitals. Luncheon fare was sent to homeless shelters that were in greater need due to the weather’s damnation. A delayed mini-presentation of the awards was hosted on a beautiful day weeks later by Mary McDermott Cook.

But on Friday, February 19, the temps were downright embarrassing as sunscreen-friendly 80s were replacing the past year’s chills for the 2016 TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole.

Ann Hobson

Ann Hobson

Ginger Reeder and Kevin Hurst

Ginger Reeder and Kevin Hurst

While the hundreds gathered outside the Hilton Anatole’s Grand Ballroom to check in, the VIPs including past Silver Cup recipients headed to the nearby Media Grill and Bar Restaurant. Some seemed a little bewildered at the location. A table with three empty chairs and a TACA poster on an easel indicated that the VIP reception was indeed within. Passing by hotel guests at the bar watching a basketball game on the big screen, the TACA types moseyed on back to a semi-private dining room. Pretty soon the area became so packed with people like Honorary Chair Ann Hobson, Kevin Hurst, Jennifer Eagle, Tom Mayer, Ted Enloe and Carol Glendenning, they spilled out into the hallway.

James E. Wiley Jr. and Rebecca Fletcher

James E. Wiley Jr. and Rebecca Fletcher

Unlike years past when the award recipients opened the boxes, revealing the Silver Cups to the assembled guests, the 38th Cup awardees Rebecca Fletcher and James “Jim” Wiley Jr. gleefully opened the boxes in the back of the room unbeknownst to others. Didn’t matter because the cups shone like the Rebecca’s and Jim’s smiles.

From the left: (back row) Lucilo Pena, Howard Rachofsky, Frank Risch, Cindy Rachofsky, Bess Enloe, John Eagle and Howard Hallam; (front row) Catherine Rose, Marguerite Hoffman, Rebecca Fletcher, James E. Wiley Jr. and Don Glendenning

From the left: (back row) Lucilo Pena, Howard Rachofsky, Frank Risch, Cindy Rachofsky, Bess Enloe, John Eagle and Howard Hallam; (front row) Catherine Rose, Marguerite Hoffman, Rebecca Fletcher, James E. Wiley Jr. and Don Glendenning

Just before the VIP party broke up, the annual group photo of Silver Cup recipients, past and present, was staged in a corner of the room. Unfortunately, some, like past Silver Cup recipients Mary McDermott Cook, Kern Wildenthal, Holly Mayer and Ruben Esquivel, had already moved on to the Grand Ballroom. Just as well because they couldn’t have squeezed any more folks into that corner.

Lee Cullum

Lee Cullum

Tara Lewis

Tara Lewis

Pete Chilian

Pete Chilian

Marsha Cameron

Marsha Cameron

But once inside the Grand Ballroom, there was plenty of room for folks to settle down for lunch. Mistress of ceremonies Lee Cullum introduced the head table including Co-Chairs Pilar Henry and Tara Lewis, J.P. Morgan’s Peter Chilian, 2015 Silver Cup Awardees Don Glendenning and Catherine Rose, TACA Board Chair Donna Wilhelm, Paradox Compensation Advisors’ Marsha Cameron, Neiman Marcus’ Ginger Reeder and the 2016 Silver Cup Awardees Rebecca and Jim. She then invited the Rev. Douglas Travis of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church to come to the podium to give the invocation. Just before having him take over, she said, “He may not know that I’m in his parish.” Without missing a beat, Douglas said, “I know.” A chuckle was heard from the audience just before they bowed their heads.

Grace Browning

Grace Browning

Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones

At 12:10 luncheon (baby kale salad followed by an entrée of chicken, mushroom and leek fricassee and a chocolate pistachio torte for dessert) was served while The Dallas Opera principal harpist Grace Browning played on a mini-stage at one of the room and was followed by Dallas Chamber Symphony principal clarinet Jonathan Jones on a similar stage across the way. At one point Jonathan played Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” and it was noted that eating utensils seemed to move faster.

Charles Karanja

Charles Karanja

Following Lee’s state-of-the-arts review, Tara’s thanking the sponsors and remarks by Pete, Marsha and Donna, Ginger introduced the 2016 SMU Meadows School of the Arts Performers pianist Tara Emerson and tenor Charles Karanja, who performed on a stage in front of the head table.

Following the performance, Catherine Rose introduced fourth-generation Texan Jim, remarking that “one of his many sterling qualities is his willingness to step in and volunteer for the hardest work and then actually do the work.”

James E. Wiley Jr.

James E. Wiley Jr.

He kicked off his brief acceptance speech with “Wow! Shazam!” His acceptance speech was mingled with humor and sincerity, “having had the good fortune of picking parents who lived in Dallas” and attributing his early love for the arts to his DISD teachers. While admitting that Dallas’ arts have flourished over the years, he asked, “Where do we go from here?” He suggested the “biggest challenge is figuring out a way to empower all the diverse and disparate parts to come together and experience the joy of true community.” With the costs of sports participation and attendance being prohibitive for families, he reasoned that “enjoying art in all its forms and experiencing the outdoors and nature are two viable ways for Dallas to come together as a community.”

At 1:22 p.m. the ever-eloquent Don’s introduction of Rebecca sounded more like a love note. In closing, he paraphrased Lerner and Lowe’s “We Call the Wind Maria(h),” saying

“’Way out here we have a name for rain and wind and fire. The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe and we call the wind Maria(h).’ In that same spirit, I give you our arts force of nature — Rebecca.”

Rebecca Fletcher

Rebecca Fletcher

Like Jim, Rebecca started off her acceptance speech with, “Wow!” She then recalled attending her first Silver Cup Award luncheon in 1993, when her mother Bess Enloe received the award. It “sparked” the idea of leaving the legal profession and working for in the nonprofit sector.

She accepted the award graciously, telling the audience that it was especially meaningful since she and James had worked together in the past. Rebecca then took the opportunity of explaining why her focus had been primarily on the arts, “because of what they can uniquely give back to our community. Imagine a society without the influence of arts and you’ll have to strip out the most pleasurable in life. Take away the collective memory of our museums. Remove the bands from our schools, the choirs from our communities; lose empathetic plays and dance from our theaters and you’re left with a society bereft of a national conversation about its identity or anything else.”

Thanking her associates and friends, she teared up in recognizing her family. But Rebecca was not going to end her talk with tears. Instead she announced that she was going to “set the record straight” about her husband Barron Fletcher. “Many of you have often complimented me on the relationship that I set up between Titas and the Performing Arts Center during my tenure as the board chair. Well, I have to come clean. It was not my idea. [laughter from the audience] It was Barron Fletcher’s. Barron was the one who stayed up with me pouring over Titas’ books and designing a new business model. Furthermore, he personally wrote a check to cover the organization, so that I could go out and negotiate the deal. So, just so we all know, Barron Fletcher saved Titas.”

Despite A Couple of Big Regrets, KERA Celebrated Its 50th Anniversary With Stellar Crowd And Raised $1M

Bob Ray Sanders and David McCullough

Leave it to the KERA folks. They arranged a 50th anniversary at the Wyly last Tuesday with a stellar collection of personalities from PBS’s past and present, no commercials and just a couple of nudges about the need for support. Honorees were to be the late Ralph Rogers, who had pioneered the frontier days of PBS and KERA, and Bob Wilson, who had been KERA’s first president. For out-of-towner names KERA’s Newsroom first anchor/executive producer Jim Lehrer, NPR Senior News Analyst Cokie Roberts, Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough and Weekend Edition‘s Scott Simon were on the roll call to join locals Bob Ray Sanders, Lee Cullum and Krys Boyd.

Then just a couple of days before (like early Sunday) word came that an “undisclosed illness” would prevent honoree Bob from being front-and-center.

No sooner had that news sunk in than Scott had to pull out due to a personal emergency.

Melissa Fetter

Not to worry. Event Chair Melissa Fetter and KERA President/CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff made a few adjustments and proceeded as planned for a celebration incorporating entertainment, video clips, tributes, memories, fabulous food and plans for the future including a soon-to-be-announced significant expansion of KERA’s news coverage after the first of the year.

The reception in the Wyly lobby was bulging with KERA fans, both old and new, like Margot and Ross Perot, Alice and Erle Nye, Jennifer and Peter Altabef, Lisa and Chris Ryan, Diane and Hal Brierley, Roger Horchow,

Roger Horchow

Nancy Halbreich, Barbara and Steve Durham, Toni Brinker, Holly and Doug Brooks, Caren Prothro, Lizzie and Dan Routman, Clay Mulford and Ruth and Ken Altshuler.

Just as the lobby was approaching the overload state, word was passed to go upstairs for the seated dinner and program.

Owen Wilson

But once up there, the talk continued. Main attractions were the Wilson boys (Owen and Luke) who caught up with old friends like Angus Wynne and made a bunch of new buddies. Two women at separate times in the evening approached photographers saying they’d give a million dollars to have their photos snapped with Owen. An oldtimer upon hearing those offers laughed, “Things haven’t changed. I remember when he waited tables at S&D Oyster and was the hit with all the customers, especially the ladies.”

Meg Simpson

On the sidelines Meg Simpson patiently played second fiddle. Besides being a lawyer and former basketball player, she’s Luke Wilson’s girlfriend, and was used to the celebrity attention that surrounded Luke.

But once the dinner was a done deal, the program started. After a video narrated by Bill Moyers on the legacy of Ralph Rogers, Bob Ray had the members of Mary Nell and Ralph Rogers‘ family stand. At least three tables of Rogers rose.

David McCullough

Then David McCullough told the group spoke about Ralph’s courage, brave programming and unorthodox choices and his friendship with Bob. Then he recalled asking the late Stanley Marcus what he would change, if he could. The retailing guru said, “I’d do something about television. . . because if you can change that, think what can be accomplished in other fields. . . It’s as if we’ve invented fire, and all we’re doing with it is burning things down.”

To acknowledge the evening’s recognition in place of Bob, his sons Owen and Luke Wilson subbed in. However, even the boys with more charm than a Miss America finalist could not quell the question of the night, “What wrong with Bob?” Owen would only say, “He’s doing much better, and we’re hopeful he’s going to make a full recovery.”

Luke Wilson

Luke did let it out that Bob was hospitalized one block away from Sonny Bryan’s BBQ, where he used to love to go on Sunday afternoons, and added that his father was a Heineken drinker in a Coors, Bud, and Pabst world. Luke also admitted that had his father known that he had borrowed his father’s shirt, tie and shoes for the evening, Bob would have had one of his famous 1970s-era temper tantrums!

But don’t for a minute think that Luke had the corner on the humor market. Owen told the more than 350 guests that his father removed the family televisions set for two years after he caught Owen watching Gilligan’s Island one too many times.

Laura Wilson

Despite Bob’s not being present, Wilson matriarch/photographer Laura Wilson watched her sons fulfill their understudy responsibilities with pride and a chuckle.

Jim Lehrer

And while the Wilson boys were a very hard act to follow up, Lee, Bob Ray, Krys, Jim and Cokie proved their chat chops. Highlights of their discussions included:

  • When approached by Bob to join KERA, Jim admitted he didn’t really watch television. Bob said he didn’t, either. Jim said he didn’t know anything about [doing a KERA program]. Bob said, “I don’t either, but we can do this thing together.”
  • Bob “touched me and literally changed my life,” Jim said.
  • He added that calling Ralph Rogers, Ralph “would have been like calling the Pope, Sam.”
  • KERA guests

    During the early days of KERA’s Newsroom, the staff prepared to run a story regarding a big name Dallasite and some downtown property. Mr. Big Name wanted KERA to “hold” the story for three weeks pending a formal announcement. “We ran the story,” Lehrer said, and Rogers told him the next day, “That was a mistake; you shouldn’t have done that,” but he didn’t interfere with Lehrer’s decision. Jim admitted, “If he had said no, that would have been the end of Newsroom.”

  • Cokie Roberts

    Regarding today’s opinion-filled news, Cokie and Jim applauded themselves and PBS for never giving their opinions on the news. Jim said blurring the lines between straight news and opinions and analysis has “damaged the end result,” especially on cable news. Cokie said NPR is un-opinionated and thorough, and it is growing.

  • On the upcoming presidential election, Jim predicted that it’s going to be nastier than ever, requiring resources to sort through the shouting and cut through the noise and, “That’s what PBS does better than anyone.”

Ray Benson (left) and Asleep at the Wheel

Following the onstage conversations and tribute, and just before the curtains surrounding the Wyly Theatre rose with Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel kicking into gear, Mary Anne announced that in addition to the evening being a sell-out, it had also raised $1M for KERA. Nice way to end the evening. Bob and Scott, wish you could have been there.