We Like Mike!

The annual C. Alvin Bertel Award hosted by the World Trade Center of New Orleans unfolded on a recent Wednesday and honored Michael W. Kearney, chairman and CEO of The Kearney Companies Inc. It’s a New Orleans-based “third party logistics company that serves the supply chain needs of many large importers and exporters in the Port of New Orleans.” The honored Mike has had extensive experience in the global shipping industry with an involvement in the trade and commerce of the port for more than 40 years.

Guests arrived for the award ceremony and luncheon and its registration at 11 a.m. in the Armstrong Ballroom of the Sheraton New Orleans. The program started at noon. Established in 1967, the Bertel Award is presented on behalf of 11 international trade, transportation and economic development organizations in the New Orleans area and annually taps an individual who has made significant contributions to the Louisiana port community.

A graduate of De La Salle High School, Kearney attended Louisiana State University and graduated from Tulane University.

Corrado Giacona II, WTCNO advisory board chairman, made the welcome remarks, which were followed by the Rev. Dr. Michael Kuhn’s invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Rusty Barkerding Jr., president of Admiral Security Services Inc. and a member of the Port of New Orleans Board of Commissioners. All the while, guests enjoyed their lunch, a three-course meal, starting with a salad.

Next up was Coaxum Enterprises Inc. President Henry L. Coaxum Jr., who chairs the New Orleans Business Alliance. “The word ‘catalyst’ is what Mike has been,” he said. Cooper /T. Smith Corporation Chairman and CEO Angus Cooper II was the next speaker. For the award presentation, the honor befell David Fennelly, director of Associated Terminals LLC and Turn Services LLC. Last year, he was the Bertel Award recipient.

Among the additional remarks made about Mike Kearney were that he’s at ease in a host of situations: the tennis court, Carnival balls with friends, family and business. When he accepted the award, Kearney immediately recognized his wife, Susu, as “one person who means everything to me.” He made other references and then addressed the importance of the port, “Louisiana’s economic engine,” and the need to “tell the story.” “I am humbled and deeply appreciative” were his final words upon receiving the prestigious award.

Notables included past Bertel awardee Gary LaGrange, Port of New Orleans CEO; another past awardee, Danny Hughes; Kearney Companies President David Kearney with wife Caroline; Wilkins Kearney and fiancée Lilla Wright; Niquette Kearney, a former queen of Carnival; Clay and Malise Kearney; Karyn Kearney, wife of Bill Kearney IV; and Bill Kearney III.

Also, George Dunbar and Louisette Brown, Maria Kuhn, Frank Stewart, Gary Brewster, Frank McCormack, Hill and Macon Riddle, Mary Louise “Mary Lou” (Mrs. William Kearney) Christovich, Larry Boudreaux, Jimmy Baldwin, Bill Langenstein, and the No. 21 table of high school and college friends, who answered to the surnames of Carriere, Kolb, Nalty, Roussel, Gundlach, Lewis, Ward, and Barkerding, etc. For starters.

Seated, too, in a prominent spot was Jack Bertel, grandson of Frank Bertel. “I was so close to my grandfather,” he said. “We lived across the street.” Of course grandson Jack is duly proud of his forebear, who, in the early 1940s, helped bring about a state constitutional amendment providing for the selection of New Orleans Port Commissioners on a non-political basis. Administrative reforms by the “Dock Board” have, as a result, endured to this day.

‘G’ Whiz

They always make a sartorial statement at their Summer Ball.

Those are the Famous “G” Club members, who held their annual event in the Grand Salon Complex of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel with the theme “G Brothers … Together Today, Tomorrow and Always.” In keeping with the club’s tradition, members sported white dinner jackets, green vests, green pocket squares and black tuxedo pants. Ball gowns to the floor were the appropriate feminine attire for their wives or dates.

To ensure proper dress, Elyse Harrison, daughter of G brother Darryl Harrison and spouse Eurydice Bush Harrison, along with Corinne Williams and Ashley Adams, checked attendees as they arrived.

Among the organization’s guests were Tony Dooley, Martin Irons, Tony and Melanie Thomas, Donald and Shalonda Jacques, Carl and Joyce Scott, Charles Calvey, Thomas Williams, Shawn and Edith McCoy, Theodore and Charlene Sanders, Alicia Antoine, Randy and Priscilla Reece, Robert and Selica Taylor, Rudy and Nikki Lewis, Faye Turk, Melissa Payton, Carolyn Covington, Lydia Robichaux, Calvin and Gwendolyn Jones, Anthony and Dianne Johnson, Michael and Sylvia Dukes, John and Amanda Smart, Willie and Rose Coleman, Eddie and Zina Ramsey, Alva Dawson, Florence Jones, Johnnie and Yada Robinson, Rosa Verret, and Judge Calvin Johnson. They and G members milled about with frequent stops at the food stations, especially the steamship of beef. Keepsake photos were duly snapped in front of the tall G sculpture.

Another traditional feature of the gallivanting is the “call-out” of members and their wives or dates, and, at 10:30 p.m., ball Chairman Carl V. Williams lined them up. Then perennial master of ceremonies Charles Beckwith asked for attention, gave a brief history of the club, and recited the above 2015 theme, along with the club’s motto: “Pleasure through Friendship and Service 1927-2015.”

Leading the call-out was the above Carl Williams, the club’s second-longest tenured member, and his guest Kimberly Turk. Then came ball Co-Chairman and club business manager Samuel Joseph Walker Sr. with spouse Patricia; Gary M. Lewis Sr. with Greta; Kenneth Lawson with fiancée Trenise Harris; Willie J. Stafford, the longest-tenured member, with Mildred; Mike Dianda with Yvonne Mitchell; Carl Jasper with Cheryl Squire; the above Darryl and Eurydice Harrison; and Tracy D. Dickerson with Michele Burnett. The last were the club’s Vice President James F. Williams Sr. (with Deborah Montrell) and President Elvin Martin (with Faye).

Altruism figures into the elegant fun. Darryl Harrison announced the 2015 book scholarship recipients, Tyler Sanders and Dwight Collins, graduates, in turn, of St. Augustine and Landry-Walker high schools. This fall, Tyler will enroll in Howard University and Dwight, Lone Star Community College.

Subsequent words came from ball chairman Carl Williams, who quoted famous French writer Albert Camus in relation to the togetherness of the Gs, and President Elvin Martin, who recognized inactive member August Bourgeois and spouse Rose, as well as the January death of Alice Phillips Porter, the widow of a late club member.

Music always figures as a substantial part of the evening’s fun and bonhomie. Credit for that liveliness went to Gina Brown & Anutha Level Band, who played ole school favorites, like R & B, soul and blues, and popular dance numbers. The wobble was a dance-floor hit.

Spotlight on Success

Generations Hall was the site for the night when the March of Dimes held its 29th annual Spotlight on Success Gala, which honored some of the city’s most outstanding young professionals. The New Orleans Advocate was the presenting sponsor. A patron party launched the levity and laurels, followed by the four-hour main event. Garnering their own spotlight were mistress of ceremonies Camille Whitworth and auctioneer Chuck Mutz, as well as the “Success” committee of 20 people. Groovy7 entertained.

As for the honorees, take a bow, Devin Barnett, Jessica Bayard, Brandy Bellina, Ashley Brennan, Brandon Bulliard, Emily Byrd, Alicia Domangue, Raven Fielding, David Fuselier, Joel Galatas, Brittany Gilbert, Ty Grubbs, Rebecca Gustafson, Katherine Kovach, Elizabeth-Ashley Landry, Ellen Lockhart, Kelsey Loup, Melissa Maia, Frannie Montegut, Chuck Nwanze, Emily M. Smith, Katie Sternberger, Stacey Stiel, Sage Theriot, George Van Wormer, Eric Wallace, Constance Whittaker and Aimee Willem.

The auction is an integral part of the partying, a fundraiser for the March of Dimes and its mission of helping mothers have full-term pregnancies. Each honoree gave items to the auction, many in the form of packages. All were particularly resourceful and generous, but one laureate amassed a wealth of items. Take another bow, Ashley Brennan.