The Park Cities Hilton is not known as the busiest fundraisers site on the circuit. Too bad. Because it has one of the most protected valet parking arrangements around. And when the weather is brisk, wet or, heaven forbid, icy, guests don’t have to worry about making their way into the hotel.
That’s what the Retina Foundation of the Southwest guests found out Tuesday, November 12. As soon as they handed their vehicle over to the valets, they ambled down a short hallway to the reception in the hotel’s lobby.
Once the Beverly Ballroom doors opened and guests took their places, Honorary Chair Bobby Lyle announced he was committed to having the evening over by 9:10 p.m. His plan was to coincide the end of the event with 9-10-11-12-13 (translation: 9:10 p.m. on 11–12-2013).
Bobby revealed that the evening of dining with entertainment by pianist Doug Montgomery had raised over $275,000, “far exceeding” their goals, and thanking Maestro Sponsors Helen and Robert McGraw. He then introduced Dr. Karl Csaky, noting that the doctor once swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. Bobby didn’t mention it, but guests suspected that Karl’s swim was not to escape the prison.
The good doctor has been one of those trying to find a cure for macular degeneration suffered by many. He said the disease is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 65. Having both a dry and wet form, it involves a slow loss of vision and has a strong genetic component.
After the brief talk, dinner was served to a crowd that included Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Linda and Bill Custard, Dean Al Niemi, Margot and Ross Perot, Brent Christopher, Herbert Hunt, Vee and Mike Montgomery, Lynn McBee, Lottye Brodsky and Barbara Brice. While they were dining, guests were asked to submit tune requests for Doug to play.
Doug started performing with “Exodus, followed by an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley, “All That Jazz” and “I Love a Piano.” In reviewing the requests, he came upon one for “Crazy.” A female voice from the audience was heard telling Doug how it was the song playing when Mike McGehee proposed to her daughter, Pebble McKenzie. The voice belonged to Faye Briggs. The blushing faces belonged Pebble and Mike. Of course, Doug played “Crazy.”
Later when he played “Embraceable You,” Doug called out, “Where’s Billie Leigh Rippey?” Needless to say, Doug knows and is known by Dallas audiences.
But a schedule was to be kept and Bobby returned to the podium to wrap things up. As the evening concluded, watches were just a smidge past 9:10, but who’s going to quibble about a couple of seconds?