Established in 1954 in memory of the Weiss brothers, Seymour, Bernard, Milton and Julius, the Weiss Awards recognize members of the Greater New Orleans community whose civic and humanitarian contributions further human dignity. The 60th annual Weiss Awards event assembled supporters of the host organization, the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice, for the 60th Weiss Awards at a dinner held in the Hyatt Regency.
Lt. Gov. William H. “Billy” Nungesser and Karl E. Hoefer served as event co-chairmen and, in their joint message in the program, saluted the leadership of NOCCJ for outstanding work. They particularly named the board’s co-chairmen, the Rev. Joseph Doyle, SSJ, and Harry Rosenberg, as well as NOCCJ President and CEO Stephanie Bridges, her staff and the event captains.
The Empire A Ballroom was embellished with a silvery curtain, lighted with blue, behind the stage; green ferns in white containers on either side of the lectern; and intriguing centerpieces. Tea-type candles floated in tall cylindrical vases that also contained blue roses. To the side were additional blue roses. Those arrangements were especially noted during the served dinner and its prandial pleasures.
At 7:40 p.m., the formalities began with a welcome by Bridges and Rosenberg, the presiding co-chairman of NOCCJ. Then came the presentation of the honorees: John and Mary Jane Becker, religious, philanthropic and civic activists; Karen DeBlieux, noted for her extensive community service and leadership; Ellis L. Marsalis Jr., regarded by many as “the premier modern jazz pianist in New Orleans” and a mentor to scores (including his own musical sons); and William L. Mimeles, a strong lifetime commitment to charitable involvement. They were collectively recognized by Rosenberg as “great assets to the community on the (NOCCJ’s) 60th anniversary.”
Baubles and Bubbly for Beethoven
The alliteration set the motion for merriment when the LPO (Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra) Volunteers presented a so-titled cocktail party featuring a boutique of upscale and designer accessories from the LPO’s Encore Shop at the home of spouses Rachel Van Voorhees (LPO principal harpist) and Arnold Kirschman. Champagne-themed decorations featuring lots of sparkle were placed throughout the house, a focal point of which was the music room filled with beautiful harps. Filling the surroundings with music was LPO pianist Yui Asano, who later teamed with hostess Rachel for a duet.
Melissa Dovie, Nancy Fridge, Kathy Gaspard, Betty Gerstner, Melissa Gordon and Josette Seifert combined creative and organizational forces to chair BBB. Boutique Committee members were Carol Hall, Jacque Gold, Carolyn Landwerlin, Helen Flammer, and Encore Shop manager Jennifer Fonseca. Sales at the Encore Shop, a ladies’ resale shop with upscale and designer clothing and accessories, benefit the LPO.
More notables were honorary Chaircouple Mr. and Mrs. Anton Stein (Cathy and Toni), LPO Volunteers President Charlotte Lewis, Encore Shop Chairwoman Kathleen Davenport, LPO board President Ranney Mize and wife Emel, Elexa Dixon with Ben Levine, Courtney-Anne Sarpy, Danielle Trostorff, Marilyn Dittmann, spouses Angela Hill and Irwin Marcus, Jackie Gunter, Aline Porterie, Diane Butler, Debra Judd, Diane Dupin, Katherine de Montluzin, Amy Ferguson, and Barbara Sands in a one-of-a-kind bubble dress.
In celebration of its 98th year, the New Orleans Garden Society celebrated “A Bewitching Affair – Spellbinding!” during its annual luncheon. Fright sights were fun at the Audubon Tea Room, which had unique centerpieces by Jane and Hugh Joyner of a glittered wood base, a witch’s hat, wand, and globe. Their piece de resistance was Pelmyra, a life-size and gowned-in-black witch mannequin with purple hair and a four-foot hat. (Pelmyra, sans hat, was sold to a thrilled buyer for her neighborhood Halloween party.)
Margaret Orr was the mistress of ceremonies and introduced the Dillard’s fashion show that had as models Pam Clower, Donna Ritter, Erin Fleming, Sonda Stacey, Janie Stewart, Jeanne Turnipseed, Suzanne Parker, Karen Burmaster and Anita Garcia, all society members.
Special attendees were NOGS President Lee Pitre Lynch, chairwoman Patti Millan, event committee members (including Irene Klinger), 2017 Most Bewitching awardee Brenda Higgins, and Civic Award Winner representatives Debbie Rothschild, Ann McDonald, Leo Watermeier, Betsy Henson and Janet Angelico. Costume winners, as judged by Liz McHugh and Leslie Ackel, were Vita DiMaggio, Susan Capetelli and Debbie Evans, the Joyners, Faith Pepperone, Constance Albert, Linda Langlois, and Arleen Goldblum.
More features of the Halloween hobnobbing were a patron reception in the garden, the silent auction, Parade of Prizes, 50/50 Prize, and the luncheon fare. Drum amandine or eggplant Napoleon were the main-course choices, but dessert consisted of finger food. It was a witch’s cut-off hand made of white chocolate with red sprinkles at the wrist.
MS Warriors for a Cause
To benefit the Ochsner Multiple Sclerosis Center, MS Warriors for a Cause held a reception at the beautiful home of Marcia and Gothard Reck with special guest Dr. Bridget Bagert, who spoke to the crowd. According to event Chairwoman Desi Roth Harrison, the streetcar-inspired invitations were done because the Recks live on St. Charles Avenue and “Dr. Bagert is a Sacred Heart (Academy) graduate,” whose alma mater is on the route.
The fundraiser raised money to help center director Dr. Bagert and her team of providers to serve more MS patients, as well as for research and education for both patients and caregivers. She was joined by her husband, Tom Lowenstein.
Others noted, all with impressive professional links, were Marshall Harrison with the above Desi, Dr. Richard Zweifler, Eric Stillman, Dr. Terence D’Souza and spouse Judge Bernadette D’Souza, Kelly Kropog, Diana Vaughan, Crystal Smith, Patrick Schoen, David Fuselier, David Villarrubia, John and Cathy Cashman, Roxie Hebert Bruno, Mary Power Bragagnini, Jean Caillouet with Diane, Rhonda Schultheis, Omairia Delisle, and scores more.
The catering art was by Martin Wine Cellar (David Martin Jr.) and Vincent’s Italian Cuisine (Tony Imbraguglio). The dining room table was lavishly spread. For dessert, guests reached for sweets by Maurice French Pastries Bakery and JCB Creations, which were done, most appropriately, as streetcar-shaped cookies.