Loyola University New Orleans held its 1912 Society Dinner, a salute to the year the university was founded, and honored alumna Dr. Maria Ribando Burmaster (class of 1988) with the Integritas Vitae Award; Patio Planters made Christmas Brunch the reason to rally and presented The Daisy Todd Award to Albin “Al” and Susan Guillot; “A Heavenly Evening” titled the St. Pius X Gala at which Karen and David Hodges won the tuition raffle; and “The Divine Ms. L: a Roast and Toast of Sandy Lassen” hailed the so-named retiring executive director of Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation. The respective venues for the four fetes were The Roosevelt; Muriel’s Jackson Square; the home of Jimmy and Yvonne Miestchovich McCulla (St. Pius alumna, class of 1968) and the school’s Father A.T. Screen Gymnasium; and The Audubon Tea Room.

Loyola’s Laurels

Loyola University President the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J. and the board of trustees of Loyola held the 1912 Society Dinner to celebrate tradition and honor the above Dr. Maria Burmaster. The Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J., gave the invocation. President Emeritus the Rev. James C. Carter, S.J., stepped forward as the keynote speaker and traced his years at the university, where he started as a student. He then returned to teach and to later become “the longest tenured president of Loyola University New Orleans.” Among other attributes, Dr. Burmaster, a dentist, was recognized for turning Mardi Gras World into a pop-up dental clinic that saw nearly 1,000 patients with the American Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy. She was assisted by 200 Loyola students and alumni.

White-gloved Roosevelt staff served the first two courses, blue crab bisque and the main one of a filet mignon and fish duo during which the program ensued. Everyone loved the centerpieces (arguably the prettiest ones of the season) by Jack Siciliano from Gordon’s of Metairie featuring a gold violin-playing cherub atop a golden urn.

After the emceeing by board of trustees Vice Chairman Barry LeBlanc (joined by wife Teresa) and benediction, guests retired to the Holiday Dessert Reception, where they could mingle, discuss the Faith in the Future Campaign (Loyola’s $100 million comprehensive campaign), congratulate Dr. Burmaster, and listen to the music of Stephanie Screen, Rebecca Holmes and John Viner provided by the university’s College and Music and Fine Arts. “A well-run evening,” commented one frequent guest of the event, who liked the format of two seated courses, an interesting program that was not too long, and opportunities to move about and socialize.

Noted were awardee Maria Burmaster, husband Judge Barron Burmaster and their sons, John and Barron; new Society of St. Ignatius inductees Harry and Claire Stahel and Ed and Kathy Womac; and Patrick Trahan, accepting the University Founders of the Society of St. Ignatius medallion on behalf of Exxon.

Also, Sally Duplantier, Tom and Kitty Kloor, former Mayor Moon and Verna Landrieu, Carol and Dr. Roland Waguespack, Derby Gisclair with Claire, Edgar L. Chase III and Alva, Joe and Joy Barreca, Dolly-Dean and Dr. Ricardo Martinez, Anne Gauthier, Ileana Suquet and Jose, and Jim McBride (in from Houston) with spouse Pinet.

Patio Planters

Muriel’s restaurant is just steps away from Jackson Square, where Patio Planters held its huge and annual Caroling in Jackson Square on the Sunday before Christmas. Thousands of carolers attend each year.

Concerning the brunch in the restaurant, well over 100 people assembled for the “well-decked halls” of Muriel’s Jackson Square and the 10-foot Christmas tree. The menu featured traditional and tasty brunch fare, such as grillades and grits and pecan bread pudding, accompanied by lots of mimosas and sparkling wine. Adding musical sparkle was Jerry Christopher’s Big Easy Jazz Band, and for their service, Patio Planters President Stephen Swain tapped awardees Al and Susan Guillot.

Applauding them were Frances Salvaggio, Craig Schexnayder, Fran and Hunter Twiford, Lynette Stilwell (looking very stylish), Douglas Barden, and past Presidents C.J. Blanda, Adrienne Hartsock, Barbara Richmond, Lea Siegel, and Janice Foulks (with Dr. Ed Foulks). Ladies sporting holiday red included Dee Lynott with John, Marilyn Kitto with Jim, Lana Konrad with Gordon, Ginger Hitt of Razzle Dazzle, Maddie Jorgensen with David, Evelyn Preuss with Gunther, Josie Markey with George, and Wanda McGinn with immediate past prez Tom.

A Heavenly Evening

Sponsored by the Kononcheck and Vennis families, the St. Pius X Gala’s patron party at the McCulla home launched the levity that then moved to the gymnasium, which was decorated by Michelle Sibile and her committee. Petra Junius coordinated and arranged the food from 18 caterers, tall crystal vases filled with flowers and feathers served as centerpieces, Stacey Gibbons and Janis Lovecchio spearheaded the silent and live auctions, Cat Fleuriet was the auctioneer, and Percy Colon Jr. won the $1,000 cash raffle.

Making their rounds were gala Chairwomen Jennifer Gutierrez with John and Michelle Raymond with Keith, school principal Pamela W. Fulham, pastor the Very Rev. Patrick Williams, the Rev. Jonathan Hemelt, Camey Grau, Joseph Tatman, Robyn Miltenberger, Ann DeRouen, Bob and Margaret Edwards, Jeff and Susan Roesel, Brett and Brandi DuMontier, Lenny and Dr. Adrianne Delbert, and Dr. Mark and Summer Anderson. Most responded to the dance call of The Benchwarmers.

The Divine Ms. L

A patron party with music by Ruth Navarre, a delicious dinner, Bette Midler-style singing by Meryl Zimmerman, a raffle with artwork by Molly Gordon (among other items), a second line by Rabbi David Bockman, and former beauty queen/comedienne/businesswoman Rhonda Shear as emcee were a few of the highlights of the event, a fundraiser for Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation, which has Rabbi Ethan Linden as the synagogue’s leader. Roasters affectionately poked fun at honoree Sandy Lassen (joined by Elliot Lew) from childhood to her retirement.

Delighting in all the myriad aspects of Toasts and Roasts at the Audubon Tea Room were event Chaircouple Dr. Israel and Sylvia Finger, congregation President Sandy Krilov with Lesley, Liba Linden with Rabbi Ethan, Louis and Nairne Frazar Lupin, and committee members Ellen and Stan Kessler, Janice Stern with Dr. Louis, Briann Shear with Mel, Liz Yager with Dr. Alan, Jewel Kirshner with Lee, Karen and Leopold Sher, Mona Juran with Leo, Sue Rae Brown with Ken Bishop, Larry Lehmann with Dashka Roth, Debbie Pesses with Leon, and Aleeza Adelman with Andy. “Mazel Tov!” was roundly addressed to the beaming Sandy.