One of the favorite award luncheons of the fall season is the Dallas Historical Society‘s Awards for Excellence. Just the week before Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 17, the lovers of Dallas history and those who help make it all come true were at the Fairmont for the handing out of awards and the legendary A.C. Greene champagne toast. Here’s a report from the field:
The Board of Trustees of the Dallas Historical Society, with Honorary Co-Chairs Gail Thomas, PhD and Robert Hyer Thomas and co-chairs Veletta Forsythe Lill and Mary Suhm, welcomed over 650 attendees to the 35th Awards for Excellence (AFE) in Community Service luncheon on Thursday, November 17, at the Fairmont Dallas.
As attendees arrived and took their seats, Master of Ceremonies Stewart Thomas welcomed everyone to the 35th annual celebration, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated generosity of spirit, civic leadership, and ability to encourage community-wide participation in a particular phase of the growth of the city. He then welcomed Reverend Richie Butler, senior pastor of St Paul United Methodist Church, for the invocation.
Following the invocation, guests enjoyed a first course of spring pea and ham soup en croute with mint cream, followed by roasted chicken breast with demi glace served with old school stacked potatoes, arugula and carrot cardamom puree. Thomas returned to introduce Co-Chairs Veletta and Mary.
Ms. Lill and Ms. Suhm expressed their gratitude to attendees, event sponsors and the luncheon committee for their support of this year’s Awards for Excellence, particularly Honorary Co-Chairs Gail Thomas and Robert Hyer Thomas. Applauding the couple’s many contributions to Dallas, including their long-standing support of the Dallas Historical Society, the co-chairs announced that two special books would be donated in the Thomas’ honor to the G.B. Dealey Library and Reading Room at the Hall of State: for Bob, Darwin Payne‘s “One Hundred Years On The Hilltop: The Centennial History of Southern Methodist University” and for Gail: the late historian A. C. Greene‘s “A Town Called Cedar Springs” for creating the sense of community from the many former historic villages that now comprise Greater Dallas.
Dallas Historical Society Board of Trustees Chair Bill Helmbrecht then took the podium recognizing event co-chairs and honorary chairs as well as Amy Aldredge, the Dallas Historical Society’s recently appointed executive director. Additionally, he thanked Arrangements Chair Shannon Callewart, Master of Ceremonies Stewart Thomas, AFE Coordinator Louise Caldwell, Caro Stalcup and Staff Liaison Nora Lenhart for all the dedicated hours they put in to making the event a success.
He also shared the impact the Dallas Historical Society makes with its holdings of over three million archives and artifacts related to Dallas and Texas history, its exhibits and events, including two upcoming exhibits, “Polly Smith: A Texas Journey” and “Drawing Power: The Editorial Art of John Knott” and its education and public programs which reach approximately 20,000 area school students annually.
As dessert of caramel pecan cheesecake with salted caramel and Texas pecans was served, Stewart returned to recognize the 2016 Awards for Excellence in Community Service recipients. Each recipient was presented with their award by co-chairs Lill and Suhm.
2016 Awards for Excellence recipients:
- Arts Leadership – Keith Cerny, general director and CEO of the Dallas Opera
- Business – Leonard M. Riggs Jr. M.D., noted Dallas civic leader who began his career as an emergency physician, became chief of emergency medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, and later founded the precursor of EmCare, Inc.
- Creative Arts – Eliseo Garcia, international multi-media sculptor
- Education – Pat Mattingly, long-time educator and former 26-year director of The Lamplighter School
- History – Hugh Aynesworth, award-winning journalist and writer
- Humanities – Molly Bogen, retired 40-year director of Senior Source
- Medical Research – Eric Olson, renowned molecular biologist specializing at UT Southwestern Medical Center
- Philanthropy – Linda Perryman Evans, president and CEO of the Meadows Foundation
- Sports Leadership – Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time World Championship gold medalist
- Volunteer Community Leadership – Philip C. Henderson, architect and urban visionary and first president of the Friends of the Katy Trail
- Volunteer Community Leadership – Frederick “Shad” Rowe, co-founder of GIBI Investment Symposium and advocate and board member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation
- Jubilee History Maker – Margot Perot, community volunteer and philanthropist
After the awards presentation, champagne was served to all attendees as well as recipients on stage. Stewart returned to the podium, with glass in hand, to conclude with the event’s traditional A.C. Greene toast: “Would everyone who was born in Dallas, please stand up. Would everyone who was born in Texas, please stand up. We toast the rest of you – who were smart enough to move here as fast as you could! Here! Here!”
As the event concluded, the Judy Moore Duo played the event’s signature song, “Big D” from the musical, “Most Happy Fella.”
Proceeds from the annual fundraiser support the Dallas Historical Society and its dedication to the preservation of Dallas and Texas history through its many programs, including educational outreach and public programs.
* Photo credit: Steve Foxall