North Texas had had its fill of rain on Thursday, June 2, and still the wet stuff fell, causing hairstyles to droop and traffic to clog up. With the latter in mind, Lee Ann and 2016 Henry Cohn Humanitarian Awardee Alan White started off early from their home in Uptown to the Westin Galleria. But luck was with them, as the traffic jam was southward bound.
Even better, they arrived early enough to pose for the obligatory photos and check out the Westin ballroom with their pals Diane and John Scovell. It was noted that John had papers in his hand. The reason? In addition to being one of Alan’s oldest buds, he was also serving as the evening’s emcee.
In the meantime, in the reception lobby there was a large bowl of water on a table. One guest told his friends he was going to go get a glass of the wet stuff. Luckily, he was advised that the arrangement was for the Jewish custom of handwashing before a meal at which bread is eaten. The now-informed chap headed to the bar for a drink instead.
As the reception hall filled with bold-facers (Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse, Patty and James Huffines, Crawford Brock, Ann Sappington, Cate and Jeremy Ford, Toni and Boone Pickens, Diane and Ron Howard, Hill Feinberg, Susan and Bill Hayner, Donna and Herb Weitzman, Joan and Alan Walne, Helen and Frank Risch, Marla and Mike Boone, Larry Schoenbrun, Phyllis and Ron Steinhart, Lois and Ross Finkleman, Andrew Pool, Neil Goldberg, Lana and Barry Andrews, to name a few), Lee Ann reported that son Michael Fowler had indeed been busy. In addition to recovering from oral surgery sans painkillers, he had just been named Addiction and Recovery Resource Associate at Highland Park United Methodist Church. The Whites were preparing to greet another grandchild in a couple of months, thanks to Amy and Logan Passmore. Lee Ann herself had been very busy, revealing that the Whites’ two-year-long project of building a new home was nearly completed, with a move-in date of June 15… Micki and Mike Rawlings were preparing for a four-day getaway in Mexico to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary…Pat Smith arrived just in time for dessert with husband Emmitt Smith, who’d already made the rounds, including drawing a hug from Jerry Jones.
As the program began, first up was Jonathan A. Greenblatt, a serial entrepreneur turned CEO of the national Anti-Defamation League, who eloquently explained the ADL and the Henry Cohn Humanitarian Award, with just one little hiccup (“How many here read the Dallas Morning Herald every morning?” he asked the crowd at one point). The Cohn award, we learned, was established by the ADL’s North Texas/Oklahoma Regional Board to pay tribute to an outstanding community member who inspires leadership in preserving liberty, counteracting bigotry, and advancing the cause of human rights and equal opportunity. Then Jonathan gave the floor to Scovell, who recalled growing up with Alan in Lubbock before introducing a tribute video featuring the likes of Feinberg, Lee Ann (Alan “has got a heart the size of Texas,” she said), and J.J. Gomez, a top executive with White’s PlainsCapital Bank. “Race, color, or creed have never made a difference to” Alan, J.J. said. “I’m the poster child for that!” Added Truman Arnold, one of the evening’s event chairs along with Hill: Alan is “just a good guy.”
With that it was time for Marcy Helfand, the ADL’s regional board chair, to take the podium and present Alan with the 2016 Cohn award. Beaming and sincere, the man of the hour began his remarks: “I do appreciate all that’s been said. I subscribe to what [the award] is. And I’m humbled, grateful, and appreciate” of the honor. Then the veteran banker expressed his appreciation more specifically, beginning with Lee Ann. “She’s truly been a great partner … and opened the door for me to so many relationships,” Alan said. “She’s the air beneath my wings, and it takes a lot of air to keep me up!
“My friends have taught me so many lessons. Harold and Annette [Simmons] were so instrumental to me. He was a giant of a man, and had a huge heart,” Alan went on, referring to the late billionaire businessman. “Boone Pickens—there’s a character! He taught me that when you lose, you move on. When you get knocked down, you get back up. … Jerry and Gene [Jones], you talk about the strength of the family! They take on a lot of criticism. Jerry’s taught me that you take the criticism and let it roll off your back.
“Lana and Barry Andrews are so generous. I can’t say enough about them,” Alan said, gazing out at the big crowd and preparing to wrap up the memorable evening. “These people have all taught me a lot.”