While the Dallas Historical Society‘s 2017 Awards for Excellence in Community Services crowds gathered outside the Fairmont’s International Ballroom, the VIPs and 2017 Awardees attended a private reception in the Venetian Room on Thursday, November 9. For some it was a great opportunity for people whose paths had never crossed to meet up.
For instance, historical preservationist Lindalyn Adams was almost giddy meeting former Police Chief David Brown. Speaking of David, he reported that due to his ABC contract, he was splitting his time between Dallas and New York City… Across the way, Laurie Evans was doing the swivel head looking for her husband Dr. Phil Evans to arrive. She knew he would be there, but when? … Already on the scene were past Award recipients Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, who were there to celebrate Kern’s brother Hobson Wildenthal’s being recognized for his work in education…. Patricia Meadows reported that the family home in the State Thomas neighborhood was on the market… and others like Joan and Alan Walne, Mary McDermott Cook, Louise Caldwell, Diane Bumpas, Caro Stalcup, Mary Suhm, Creative Arts Awardee Carolyn Brown, Arts Leadership Awardees Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller and Sports Leadership Awardee Tony Dorsett with his wife Janet Dorsett.
Just moments before the chimes called the group to the luncheon, Laurie was relieved to see her husband arrive with a big smile. Seems he had gotten an early Christmas gift — a million-dollar grant —from an “anonymous” donor. That’s a pretty darn good excuse for a delayed arrival.
The ballroom was filled to the max, as people like Jill Bernstein, Sandi Chapman, Kimber Hartmann, Gail Thomas and Lee Cullum took their seats. At 11:50 a.m., Master of Ceremonies Stewart Thomas called the group to order. Following an invocation by St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church Rev. Chris Girata, Stewart introduced Luncheon Co-Chairs Carol Montgomery and Kaysie Montgomery, who welcomed the group. They were followed by Dallas Historical Society Chair Bill Helmbrecht, who officially thanked all for attending and supporting the society.
All of this was done within six minutes! Promptly at high noon, Stewart reported that the program would continue in a few minutes and guests should settle back for lunch. Missing in action was table host Bobby Lyle, who was under the weather, but his table was filled with Adam McGill, Stan Levenson and Robert Prejean… Arriving just after luncheon was underway was Shirley Miller.
At 12:25 p.m. Stewart was back at the podium and invited the award recipients to take their places in chairs on the stage.
Some of the highlights from the acceptance speeches were:
- Hobson Wildenthal for Education — The University of Texas at Dallas Executive VP recalled how 50 years ago TI was created and the UTD resulted. 157 National Merit Scholars were in this year’s freshman class and it was designated as the Best U.S. College less than 50 years old. He finished saying, “Margaret McDermott is the queen of Dallas.”
- Steve Pounders for Health/Science — The internist told how in 1981 he was just starting his care and discovered a disease that was affecting young men that would late become known as AIDs. It would become his life’s calling resulting in his serving as the primary physician for men in the Dallas Buyers Club. He thanked Veletta Lill, Resource Center’s Cece Cox and his spouse James O’Reilly.
- Willis Winters for History — The Dallas Park and Recreation Department Director gave thanks for the recent passage of the bond: “One of the first projects will be the restoration of the Hall of State.”
- Jorge Baldor for Philanthropy — The Cuban-born businessman acknowledged that 800,000 have been the recipients of DACA and encouraged audience members to support the Dream Act. He went on to thank the event and kitchen staffs and finished by reporting that several hundred students are living under bridges and still going to school.
Then the most poignant moment came unexpectedly. It was when former Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett accepted his award for sports. He admitted that he was a little taken aback by the people, and went on to recognize the late Cowboys Coach Tom Landry, who made Tony understand that things were going to be tougher in the NFL. Landry held Tony back and it taught the young football player patience. Tony went on, saying, “I was always told that I was too small, time and time again.” Through effort and determination, he was able to play in the NFL for 13 years.
Looking at the other recipients seated on stage, he went on to saying “These are fantastic and incredible people up here.”
He thanked his wife Janet saying, “What I’m going through is tough, and she puts up with me. It can be really difficult and she understands that that’s not the real me. This is tough.”
Having gone beyond his two-minute limit, Janet was seen quietly approaching the side of the stage. Tony heard her say, “Tony,” and he took note and sat down.
Moments later David Brown took his place at the podium to accept the Jubilee History Maker Award. He could have easily sucked the air out of the room for his leadership for the July 7 tragedy. Instead, David rallied the audience to give Tony another round of appreciation. The applause was deafening for both Tony and David’s act of graciousness.
David went to tell how his father hadn’t wanted him to be “a cop.” But on the day when he was made a lieutenant at the Hall of State, he had what would be the last conversation with his father, who said “You were right in your choice.”
Then David went further back in his history, telling how in fourth grade, he had played Captain George Ludwig von Trapp in the “Sound of Music.” The students had to do more than learn their roles. They had to research the backstory of the musical. Today he had become nostalgic when seeing the white flowers on the tables and hearing the musician play “Edelweiss” — the last song Richard Rodgers wrote with Oscar Hammerstein.
Tying it all together, he said, “Remember who we are, what we stand for, how we should treat each other.” Then he voiced disappointment at the lack of participation in the recent election.
At 1:14 p.m., Bill Helmbrecht returned to the stage and invited all to take part in the annual A.C. Greene Toast.
For more pictures of the day, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.