Tom Brokaw’s “Lucky Life Interrupted” And The Approaching Silver Tsunami Were Food For Thought At VNA Luncheon

More than 700 gathered in the Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom for the Legends And Leaders Luncheon benefiting VNA. Early guests were photographed against the VNA backdrop. Event Co-Chairs Linda and Jay Barlow, Angie and Marshall Brackbill and Jan and Al McClendon had arranged for the big draws to be journalist/author/former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw plus Honorary Co-Chairs Sally and Forrest Hoglund.

By 11:30, the crowd that tended nearer to AARP age, as opposed to Instagram vintage, had grown. The reason for the guests skewing more toward the Baby Boomer demographic was that they were more aware of the important role that the VNA plays with its services like Meals on Wheels, VNA Hospice Care, Aging Resources and VNA Private Care. The challenge facing VNA is growing rapidly, with 10,000 Baby Boomers during 65 daily.

Or, perhaps they still consider Brokaw as their generation’s Walter Cronkite for integrity, professionalism and appreciation for the greatest generation.

Ted and Bess Enloe, Tom Brokaw and Rena Pederson

Ted and Bess Enloe, Tom Brokaw and Rena Pederson

At 11:45, Brokaw was seen being escorted to his table. Once there he talked with Bess and Ted Enloe and Rena Pederson about her book, “The Burma Spring.” Soon a line formed waiting for a chance to shake his hand or have a brief chat.

Following lunch, Rena introduced Brokaw by going off-script, revealing such factoids as:

  • After a year of partying at the University of Iowa, he left the university.
  • His partying ways earned him a booth at the local bar named after him.
  • He and his wife Meredith have been married 52 years, have three daughters and five granddaughters. (Tom later added that they’ve added a grandson to the mix and it was well worth the wait.)

Brokaw shunned the podium claiming that it looked a bit funereal. His talk was a mix of telling of his “lucky life,” his views on issues facing today’s world, and his upcoming book about his recent, successful battle with cancer.

Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw

No, there was no mention of Brian Williams. Rather, Tom focused on his own days of reporting. Regarding his being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, he spoke of the dramatic developments that were taking place in research. He added that his newest book, “A Lucky Life Interrupted,” was being released on May 12.

On the topic of public service, he suggested people who have served their country should be tapped and valued by corporations.

Brokaw also agreed with the concern voiced by VNA CEO Katherine Krause about the silver tsunami of Baby Boomers that was on the horizon.

Round Robin April 22: Callier Cares, Cherish The Children And Legends And Leaders Patron Parties

Once again North Texas was being threatened with all types of storms on Wednesday, April 22. Gee. This is getting old. Still, the Heroes and Handbags held a wrap-up party at Alexander McQueen in Highland Park Village; Battle of the Chefs was waging a foodie fight at Frontiers of Flight Museum for the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation; and AWARE patrons were OMG-ing at Margaret McDermott’s home-sweet-home with Barbara Sypult chairing. Needless to say, nobody wanted to leave Margaret’s “cottage.”

Other patron parties taking place throughout the area included:

Callier Cares Patron Reception

Over at Libby and David Hunt’s home in Volk Estates, it was a family affair. The occasion was the Callier luncheon’s Callier Cares patron party for the fundraiser luncheon on Thursday, April 30, at Brook Hollow.

Mike and Sharon McCullough and Ruth and Ken Altshuler

Mike and Sharon McCullough and Ruth and Ken Altshuler

The family angle was Mike McCullough, who would receive the Ruth and Ken Altshuler Award for his years of advising Callier. If you’re brand new on the subject or are just having a momentarily “Can’t remember” second, Mike is the dad of Libby Hunt. See the connection?

Tiffany Divis, Libby Hunt, Tom Campbell, Betsy Cullum, Sissy Cullum and Barbara Stuart

Tiffany Divis, Libby Hunt, Tom Campbell, Betsy Cullum, Sissy Cullum and Barbara Stuart

Another connection for the night was the gathering of past and present Callier Cares chairs Barbara Stuart, Libby, Sissy Cullum, Betsy Cullum and Tiffany Divis (2015).

Bob and Ann Dyer

Bob and Ann Dyer

Patricia Meadows and Carol Seay

Patricia Meadows and Carol Seay

As Ruth and Ken arrived, Carol Seay, Patricia Meadows, Richard Neely, Carolyn Lupton, Jean Lattimore, Paul Divis, Dr. Tom Campbell and John Stuart were already in place to learn that Angie Kadesky has agreed to chair the 2016 luncheon benefiting Callier.

Cherish The Children Patron Party

Dallas CASA was just plain being adorable with acclaimed impressionist-expressionist artist Leoma Lovegrove at the still-new Dallas CASA headquarters. Leoma’s work of art will be auctioned off at the Cherish The Children Luncheon on Thursday, May 7, at the Dallas Country Club.

You can expect a lot of Thetas in the room. The reason? They’ll be the honorees for their work in raising funds for Dallas CASA.

Legends And Leaders Patron Party

While mom Margaret McDermott was hosting the AWARE patrons at her home, daughter Mary McDermott Cook was having a party for the VNA‘s Legends and Leaders Luncheon patrons.

Perhaps it was ironic that the party was being held on Earth Day at Mary’s “Dump Top,” a home that’s set atop a blend of glorified recycling items.

Mary McDermott, Dan Patterson and Tom Brokaw

Mary McDermott, Dan Patterson and Tom Brokaw

Still the glorious Bill Booziotis-designed creation continues to be jaw dropping. Some may not know that Mary and VNA featured speaker Tom Brokaw share a wrist-twisting interest — fly fishing. While some waited in line to have photos taken with Brokaw or have their books signed by the noted journalist/author, Mary and Tom compared wrist techniques.

 John and Lynne Sears and Mary McDermott Cook and Dan Patterson

John and Lynne Sears and Mary McDermott Cook and Dan Patterson

Before discussing fishy ways with Tom, Mary was recalling school days at Dallas Country Day School on Lomo Alto with fellow grad John Sears. She told how her dad (Eugene McDermott) and John’s lawyer grandfather had been great friends. They never mentioned the fact that both men were outstanding leaders in 20th century Dallas.

Rena Pederson

Rena Pederson

Mary recalled how Sundays had the kids lined up and asked what they had learned during the week by John’s grandfather. If their answers were right, he rewarded them with a dollar. Mary lived to collect those dollars.

Others in the crowd included Lyda Hill fresh from receiving the 2015 Mary Harriman Award. She didn’t have much time to kick back and enjoy the accolades. She was headed to South Africa in connection with the National Geographic project that she’s supporting…Rena Pederson blushing over the accolades that she’s been receiving about her book, “The Burma Spring.”

As for Tom, he looked a bit weary, and why not. The man, who just turned 75, had just announced in December that he was in remission from his battle with cancer.

JUST IN: VNA’s 2015 Legends And Leaders Luncheon To Spotlight Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw*

Tom Brokaw*

It seems like ages and ages since former NBC anchor/author of The Greatest Generation Tom Brokaw was in town. After a bit of head scratching, it seems that the last time he was in these here parts was back in 2010 to interview Bob Schieffer for the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s “A Conversation with a Living Legend.” And even then he wasn’t the center of attention.

Leave it to the VNA to change that. The 2015 Legends & Leaders Luncheon Co-Chairs Linda and Jay Barlow, Angie and Marshall Brackbill and Jan and Al McClendon just revealed they’ve locked down Tom for the Thursday, April 23, fundraiser at the Hilton Anatole.

Forrest and Sally Hoglund (File photo)

Forrest and Sally Hoglund (File photo)

Not only that but the honorary co-chairs are Sally and Forrest Hoglund!

It benefits the VNA that is busier than ever. Most folks know about their Meals on Wheels program, but there’s so much more (Hospice Care, Private Car, Pet Care Program, Senior Resources, etc.).

Just in case, you need to brush up on your Tom Brokaw file…after all, it is pretty lengthy, follow the jump for his bio.

* Photo provided 
by VNA

[Read more…]

GROVEL ALERT: Genesis Family Shelter’s 18th Annual Mother’s Day Luncheon

Jan Langbein, Paige Wilbur, Ashlee Kleinert

It’s time to assume the groveling position, if you haven’t gotten your tickets for the 18th Annual Mother’s Day luncheon. Last night Genesis Women’s Shelter head-lady Jan Langbein alerted luncheon patrons gathered at Stacye and Mike McIntyre‘s home that the May 5 luncheon  at the Hilton Anatole was officially sold out. Co-chair Ashlee Kleinert smiled when Jan added that for a big enough check some seats just might be found.

Nancy Ann Hunt

Ashlee and her family have been long time supporters of Genesis and this year will be no different with three generations helping Ashlee in co-chair duties (Ashlee’s mother Nancy Ann Hunt, sister Heather Hunt and daughter Connie Kleinert).

As if that wasn’t enough, the team was delighted that this year’s event has more corporate sponsors than ever.

Tom Brokaw

What’s the big draw? Well, besides the event benefiting the Genesis Women’s Shelter, this year’s featured speaker is former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. When last seen in these parts, Tom interviewed Bob Schieffer for the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Living Legend luncheon.  Tom was terrific just sharing the stage with Bob, so you can only guess how great he’ll be doing a solo act. Be prepared to sit back and enjoy the lunch and Tom. . . that is, if you have your tickets.

MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Legend Bob Schieffer Chats With Buddy Tom Brokaw And Serenades Luncheon Crowd

Monday’s “A Conversation with a Living Legend” benefiting MD Anderson Cancer Center should have been titled, “A Friendly Interrogation of a Living Legend.” Interviewer and former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw had decades of research and was not going to let his friend, honoree  Bob Schieffer, off the hook on stage at the Hilton Anatole.

But before getting to that “stage” of the day’s event, there was a press conference for the two with Dr. John Mendelsohn (pictured right with, from the left, Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer), president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. At the media session, the subject matter focused on cancer.

After revealing that “my mother died of breast cancer because she was afraid to go to the doctor,” Bob (pictured) added that his bout with bladder cancer taught him that people don’t like to talk about “below-the-belt diseases.”

On the subject of smoking, Brokaw didn’t hold back when asked about the new tougher warning labels on cigarette packages: “Whatever it takes,” said Tom, “I’d put a big skull and crossbones on the package.”

Dr. Mendelsohn admitted that he saw a future where one day cancer would be considered like pneumonia was to his parents’ generation.

Following the press conference, Tom told how there were eight doctors in his family including one of his daughters, who went to Stanford with Charlotte (Jones) Anderson.

Speaking of the Jones family, Tom (pictured) went on to say that he had attended the Cowboys/Eagles game the night before. NBC sportscaster Bob Costas had told him for a long time that he just had to see the Jones’ stadium in Arlington. Brokaw’s review? “It’s done with so much elegance. Everybody was having a great time.”

Someone noticed that 70-year-old Tom was walking rather gingerly. It seems that he had broken his ankle a couple of weeks before while on an ATV. Then he said, “I hunted on it the next day, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing.”

While Tom was chatting, 73-year-old Bob was looking healthy, spry and happy posing for pictures with the TCU Air Force ROTC (“The Flying Frogs”). He told them how he had been a member of the ROTC at TCU, which made the smiles in the photo all the bigger.

He also autographed an “Uncle Schieffer Wants You” recruitment poster (pictured)  for Washington internships for the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU.

Ah, but all of this was just a warm-up for the main event.

As 795 guests ambled into the ballroom, some legends were spotted in the group like Madeleine and T. Boone Pickens, Margaret Crow, honorary chairs Margot and Ross Perot and writer/TCU alumnus Sandra Brown, who had brought husband Michael and daughter Rachel and her husband Pete to the lunch.

After the main aisle was finally cleared, Bob was escorted into the ballroom by Event Chair Gale Sliger (pictured), a 28-year cancer survivor. Late arrivals like Jan Pickens scurried to their seats just in time for the “Flying Frogs” to present the colors.

Just a couple of minutes before noon, the group learned that the event had raised $953,360, lunch would be served and the program would start in 20 minutes.

Right on schedule, Dr. Mendelsohn followed a video about MD Anderson with the introduction of 12-year-old, cancer survivor Madison Glover, who presented Tom with a gift. In turn, Tom kissed the youngster and took his seat at a table on a stage that easily resembled Schieffer’s “Face the Nation” set.

Brokaw was a great warm-up man. He told the crowd that he had been hunting with Dr. Mendelsohn in South Texas recently: “As a quail hunter,” Tom said of the doctor, “he’s a great oncologist.”

Introducing Schieffer, Brokaw said, “He’s the single most popular figure in Washington journalism. . . a man of grace and integrity.”

As Schieffer took his chair on stage and crossed his legs, it was noted by many that the TCU alumnus was wearing black boots emblazoned with TCU in white (pictured).

One of the first topics was the late President Gerald Ford. It was during his administration that the two journalists met. Brokaw asked what Schieffer’s most embarrassing moment was.

According to Bob it was during a press conference, when out of nowhere Ford asked Bob if he had a question. Bob went totally blank. Realizing that his bosses were probably watching, he pulled a question out of the air, “What’s the deal with the Russians?” It was just the right question, because Ford launched into an answer that turned out to be the lead story the next day.

Brokaw wasn’t going to let his friend get off the hook so easily. “I thought you were going to tell about the time you asked a question that had already been asked.”

Schieffer: “I don’t recollect that time.”

When Brokaw pushed, Schieffer lobbed back with, “I don’t think we have time for that one.”

Another subject was the late grandmaster of journalism Walter Cronkite and his relationship with Bob. While Bob’s anecdotes were great, his impression of Cronkite was amazing. He sounded just like the late CBS anchor.

“Walter was the most curious person I ever knew,” Bob said.

Brokaw added that Walter’s late wife, Betsy, once regretted moving from their NYC townhome to a high rise. When asked why, Betsy reportedly said she loved the little patch of yard there. Did she like to garden? No, she replied, it was a great place to bury those awards that Walter had collected.

But all was not jovial chatting. Schieffer got down to serious concern about today’s media due to the lack of editors for bloggers and Internet communicators. Earlier in the day Brokaw had reiterated his disapproval of Twitter to a handful of folks.

Other concerns that Schieffer addressed were:

  • Washington politics: Because of partisanship, bitterness in Washington is the worst he could recall. He observed that Democrats and Republicans have to spend so much time raising money back home to get re-elected, they don’t get to know each other in D.C.
  • Politicians: They have to kowtow to so many special interest groups. Also, their campaign gurus and consultants no longer live in the local communities, unlike the old days where there was more accountability. “We have taken an amateur sport and turned it into a professional sport. . . . That’s 90 percent of what’s wrong.” Congress is “basically dysfunctional.”
  • Wikileaks: “Totally outrageous, totally irresponsible. . . I don’t know if they’re terrorists, or silly people making mischief.”
  • Journalism: “There’s something to be said for gatekeepers. That’s what editor are.  . . Our main responsibility now is knocking down false rumors on the Internet.”
  • Newspapers: “I think newspapers will basically wind up being on the iPad.” But we need newspapers to keep an eye on things. Without newspapers, “Corruption (will be) on an epic scale.”

Response from the audience — applause!

Following the talk, Bob and two members of the Washington, D.C., band Honky Tonk Confidential performed “(I Wanna Be A) TV Anchorman.”

Photo credit: Pete Baatz

After the tune ended and the applause died down, an auction was held for four to attend a broadcast of “Face the Nation” and brunch with Bob and his wife Pat with hotel and first-class airfare included. The winning bid of $35,000 was made by Lenise Stephenson, who just happens to be an associate member of The University Cancer Foundation Board of Visitors — and the wife of AT&T Chairman/CEO/President of the Board Randall L. Stephenson (pictured left with, from the left, Lenise Stephenson and Madeleine and T. Boone Pickens).