As the Crystal Charity Ball committee of 100 entered its 70th year of raising funds for Dallas County children’s non-profits, 2022 Chair Susan Farris decided to kick it off by holding a tea honoring the past chairs on Thursday, March 3. Since its establishment in 1952, the ladies had provided more than $175M.
While some might have thought the occasion might take place at a new hot-spot hotel or in a splendiferous estate, Susan and 70th Anniversary Tea Chair Beth Thoele decided on Arlington Hall on the grounds of Turtle Creek Park.
For some the occasion was a meeting of the vets with the newbies like Cara French, Kim Hext, Julie Bagley, Michelle Lockhart, Susan Glassmoyer, Anne McPherson, Victoria Snee, Tanya Foster, Piper Wyatt, Sunie Solomon, Amanda Shufeldt, Lisa Shirley, Wendy Messmann, Dianne LaRoe, Peggy Meyer, Elizabeth Gambrell, Candace Winslow, Kim Quinn, Charmaine Tang, Kristi Francis, Jennifer Dix, Kristina Whitcomb, Cordelia Boone, Cynthia Beaird, Lisa Singleton, Laura Downing, Ann Dyer, Melissa Macatee, Jennifer Chandler, Lisa Cooley, Tiffany Divis, Melinda Knowles and Knoxie Edmonson. Former chairs got the opportunity to meet the new generation of volunteers who carry on the mission of supporting Dallas County children. For the younger group, it was a chance to meet women who had crafted the reputation of giving over the decades.
But before the program could get underway in the Great Hall, former chairs Becky Bright (1999), Christie Carter (2016), Vicki Chapman (2007), Leslie Diers (2021), Claire Emanuelson (2018), Tucker Enthoven (2020), Margo Goodwin (2004), Louise Griffeth (2003), Randi Halsell (1996), Caren Kline (2013), Pat McEvoy (2019), Linda McFarland (1979), Sara Martineau (1993), Cynthia Mitchell (2010), Joyce Mitchell (1988), Lydia Novakov (2002), Debbie Oates (2009), Connie O’Neill (2011), Pam Perella (2017), Michal Powell (2015), Aileen Pratt (2012), Jill Smith (2005), Debbie Snell (2006), Barbara Stuart (1994) and Gloria Eulich Varel (2008) gathered in the side courtyard for a group picture in front of the fountain. In addition to gathering the 24 past leaders, there was the challenge of hearing. It seems that as the photographers stationed on top of the landing hollered out their directions, the non-stop fountain drowned out all communication.
But the photo still got underway, and soon the ladies returned to the main room that was decked out as if to host a gathering for Queen Elizabeth. Ironically on the fireplace mantel there was a photo of QE2, who became queen of England 70 years ago.
And speaking of history, Susan briefly told of the first fundraiser and the link to having the 2020 tea at Arlington Hall. The story goes that the first fundraiser benefiting The Dallas Polio Chapter, now known as the March of Dimes, was held in Dallas’ Baker Hotel’s glamorous Crystal Ballroom, which was highlighted by three mammoth crystal chandeliers. The fundraising organizers hit upon the idea of naming their “project” after the dazzling artwork.
As the years flowed by, the Baker fell on hard times and was eventually demolished to make way for a modern office building. However, the chandeliers were spared and, thanks to benefactors and history buffs, two of them found their way to Arlington Hall’s main room.
When the story was told, all heads turned and eyes gazed upon the two chandeliers suspended from the ceiling.
Trivia: That first fundraiser provided a whopping $17,730 for the charity, with tickets going for $25 per person. At midnight the 350 guests, including celebrities Greer Garson and Dan Dailey, caught ceiling balloons containing prize-winning numbers.
Another item on the program caught the former chairs by surprise. Following 9/11, when fundraising was dramatically stymied, “Bachendorf’s approached 2001 CCB Ball Chair Nancy Chapman and Underwriting Chair Pam McCallum with an offer to create a one-time incentive [charm] to encourage (and reward) the Crystal Charity Ball members to rejuvenate their fundraising efforts.”
The charm was such a hit that Lyles de Grazier’s Scott Polk picked up the idea and has donated the charm and the bracelets for the past 14 years. During the 2021 presentation, former Chair Sara Martineau (1993) and inactive committee member Cynthia Melnick were a bit confused about the charming reward, since it had started after their tenures.
To the surprise of the former chairs, Scott had created a 70th anniversary charm with bracelet for all of the past chairs. Each charm included the recipient’s initials on one side and the 70th anniversary logo on the other.
Following the surprise gift, tea was served beneath the glittering chandeliers.
For more looks at the anniversary occasion, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.