A flashback recalls the birth and death dates of Judah Touro — 1775 (Newport Rhode Island) and 1854 (New Orleans) — and the legacy he left, especially in buildings in this city. Touro Infirmary bears his name and at the recent foundation gala at Mardi Gras World, Dr. Harris Hyman III and Dr. Salvador Caputto received the prestigious 2014 Judah Touro Society Award.

Another significant past chapter was the Battle of the War of 1812 that concluded in 1815 and is memorialized in an exhibition that was given a gala preview at the Old Ursuline Convent. And, concurrent with the vernissage, a Seville streetscape of decades ago was enlivened at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, thanks to “Carmen.” In addition to the opera, an earlier, special Opening Night Gala honored Betty Brooks Doss and, both posthumously, Lois Hawkins and Betty Noe, philanthropists and grandes dames in the New Orleans Opera Association fold. For each of the three above events, a historical claim made for a present strength.

Touro Tributes

Under the stars in the Mansion Room of Mardi Gras World’s River City Complex, the Touro Infirmary Foundation Gala took shape with a patron party. Guests were welcomed by the sounds of the Courtyard Kings Jazz Band and treated to libations courtesy of the Goldring Family Foundation. At 7 p.m, the clarion call was to the River City Ballroom for a dinner catered by chef Thorsten Leighty, the executive chef of the New Orleans Marriott and 5 Fifty 5 Restaurant. The ballroom was a treat to the eye, as well, with decorations of calla lilies and white roses done by Steve Hamel and Fancy Faces.

The award presentation capped the evening’s agenda with the citing of Dr. Harris Hyman III and Dr. Salvador Caputto, who, like the past recipients, have devoted themselves to the betterment of Touro Infirmary and have shown exemplary professionalism.

Among the many applauding them were their spouses, Barbara Hyman and Luz Caputto; Louisiana Children’s Medical Center Health System CEO Greg Feirn; and from Touro Infirmary, foundation President and CEO Jim Montgomery and spouse Donna, governing board Chairman Hugh W. Long, Ph.D., and wife Susan L. Krinsky, foundation director Shon Baker, and governing board member Ruth Kullman with Larry.

The 2014 gala chairing credit went to Adrian Cohn and Shira Glazer, respectively with Sammie Wolf and Matthew Rosenthal. Then there were Clay Smith, Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn, Richard and Flo Schornstein, Jon Brouk, Jane Bories, Margaret Epstein with Joe, and former board chairman Paul Rosenblum with Edie. Several are past award recipients.

In 2002 and in 2009, Dr. George Cary and Catherine C. Kahn were the Judah Touro Society Award winners. They were asked to present the 2014 awards, with Dr. Cary (in from Atlanta) doing the honors for Harris Hyman, and Mrs. Kahn for Sal Caputto.

The gala after-party, titled L’Dor V’Dor (Hebrew for “From Generation to Generation”), took place back in the Mansion Room and featured food from a half dozen really good eateries. The musical menu came from Panorama Jazz Band and Mississippi Rail Co., which kept the place ever so lively until midnight tolled.

The Power of Prayer

The 10th gala and preview exhibition, “Praying for A Miracle: The Catholic Church and the Battle of New Orleans,” was hosted by the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center and the Archdiocese of New Orleans at the Old Ursuline Convent Museum in the Vieux Carre. Two hundred years ago, people of New Orleans gathered with the Ursuline nuns on this same spot to pray during the Battle of New Orleans. During a Mass, according to the exhibit, a messenger burst into the chapel, proclaiming “Victory is ours!”

The evening’s hosts and organizers included Archbishop Gregory Aymond, CCHC director the Very Rev. Philip Landry, CCHC board Chairwoman Barbara Turner Windhorst with her sister Davy Foto, event honorary Chaircouple Frank and Paulette Stewart, and CCHC board members Mr. and Mrs. Guy Chiappetta, Sarah McDonald with David, Deacon and Mrs. Larry Oney, Jackie Sullivan, and, with husband Dr. Ed, Janice Foulks, who chairs the CCHC’s special events committee.

Figuring, too, within the “Miracle” ranks of 275 were Virginia Gould and David Speights, sisters Lee Siegel and Frances Salvaggio, Errin Erdal-Bellan and Jonathan, Sister Carla Dolce, O.S.U., Frank Currie, Mary and Tom Finney, Anna and Carl Ayestas, and Lynda Grillot and Dreux Montegut.

Among the plethora of highpoints were the program, which included a performance by the Ursuline Academy Women’s Chorus, a welcome from Father Landry, and comments from Archbishop Aymond and Mayor Mitch Landrieu; an earlier welcome at the front entrance by bagpipers and drummers from Kilts of Many Colours; and the period costumes sported by the Daughters of 1812, Chalmette Chapter.

Classic New Orleans cuisine from several purveyors filled the plates, Fred Holley made sure there were libations, and Bevolo Gas and Electric provided decorative lanterns used throughout the evening’s décor, which was designed by Accent on Arrangements.

Taking all this in were Cynthia and Juan Valadez, Deacon Richard and Sandra Brady, Melissa Adams and Georgia Rhody, former Archdiocese archivist Chuck Nolan with Gayle, and Maureen Scheuermann and Kevin Charpentier.

A most special recognition occurred when Archbishop Aymond presented the above Barbara Turner Windhorst with the Francesco Cardinal Marchisano Award for her decade of service as a CCHC board member. The prestigious award is given to individuals who have dedicated efforts to the cultural heritage of the Catholic Church.

There was more to come! On an ever-so-pleasant evening, Kole made a mark. That was Ronnie Kole, who, along with Jeff Greenberg served up scintillating sounds featuring John Doheyn on saxophone.

Distaff Dynamism

The New Orleans Opera association cordially invited guests to the 2014-15 season’s Opening Night Gala honoring the above Mmes. Doss, Hawkins and Noe at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre. A round of cocktails at the Norman Treigle Fountain launched the socializing that segued into a 6:30 p.m. dinner on mezzanine two of the theater, which had been transformed by A Majestic Soiree. After a few welcoming words from New Orleans Opera Association general and artistic director Robert Lyall, board President Ranney Mize and Mayor Mitch Landrieu , guests lifted shiny flatware to enjoy the Spanish-themed meal by Ralph Brennan’s catering.

Special thanks went to gala Chairwomen Meredith Hathorn Penick and Dr. Erin O’Sullivan Fleming, and to NOOA executive director Timothy Todd Simmons for all of their work in making the event a success.

Linked with the “Carmen” theme was the opportunity to honor three formidable women, the above Betty Brooks Doss and the late Mmes. Hawkins and Noe.

Notables included Jim Doss (with honoree Betty), siblings James A. Noe III and Claire Noe Koch with husband Josh Koch, and with the above, Cheryl Landrieu, Lauren Lyall, Rawley M. Penick III, John P. Fleming, and Emel Mize. (Many are already red-circling Oct. 9, 2015, for that season’s Opening Night Gala.)

Their numbers were increased by Joseph and Stephanie Bruno, Anita Weisberg, Jeanne Brooks, Xenia Krinitzky Roff, and for a cosmopolitan flair, French Consul General Gregor and Ingrid Trumel, honorary consul of Japan Donna Fraiche and husband Dr. John Fraiche, Consul General Motohiko Kato of the Consular Office of Japan in Nashville, and, from the same Nashville office, political researcher/adviser Takako Sato.

Then it was on to Spain with “Carmen!”