Orleans Club

Four score and 10 was the reason for rallying at the Orleans Club, when the Closing Reception honored committee chairwomen. Depicted on the Art Deco-style invitation that was bannered “1925-2015” was a dancing couple and a jazz singer at his piano. Both designs harked back to the Roaring 20s, as did many thematic touches at the gallivanting.

Flowers included red roses, white lilies and white hydrangeas, which picked up two of the invitation’s colors, while life-size silhouettes of dancing twosomes, also in the 20s style, got more visual play. Further features were reproduced and enlarged newspaper articles from the 20s and 30s featuring the Orleans Club, as well as the strings of “pearls” with attached name tags given to the committee chairwomen.

Spotted within the lively crowd of about 300 were club President Betty and Tom Davidson, reception Co-Chairwoman Eileen Farris with husband Bradley, most recent past President Roxie St. Martin with Dr. Edward, Alma Dunlap, Discovery Committee Co-Chairwoman Pam Martin (husband Cedric was giving a presentation at the Delachaise Neighborhood Association), Susan Hayne, and Cinci and Eddie Geoghegan, who were talking up a trip abroad and a family reunion in Ireland.

A slew of taste treats had members and guests savoring lamb lollipops, avocado and tuna tartare on wontons, barbecued shrimp with Parmesan grits, a filet-carving station, and a smoked salmon display. To mention some of the culinary attractions that lured the likes of Bettye and Mike Bagot, Colette and Joe Friend, Julie Breitmeyer, reception Flower Committee Sara Wallace and Claire Avegno with Borden and Tim, Cindy and Dr. Billy Woessner, Ann Sawyer, Claire and Larry Jacobi, Petricia and Wade Thompson, Brenda and Dr. Mo Bethea, and Elizabeth and John Ryan, whose daughter, Sophia Maria Ryan, just exchanged wedding vows with Dr. Kevin Rivet Martinez. Congratulations abounded.

Some of the conversation concerned the club’s summer programs. Listed are a fashion show by Perlis; “Visions for Tulane University” by TU President Michael Fitts; “The Four Seasons (hotel) Comes to the Big Easy” by Paul Flower of Woodward Design+Build; “175 Years and Counting” by Rick Blount of Antoine’s Restaurant; “St. Peter’s Basilica’ by Monsignor Christopher Nalty; “Vive la France!” as a Bastille Day Celebration Dinner; “Jewels for All Seasons” by Ken Friend of Friend & Company Fine Jewelers; “Action … Focus on Films” with Jolene Pinder, executive director of the New Orleans Film Society; and lobster dinners for a crustacean conclusion of the summer session.

Back to the “1925-2015” fun! Joe Simon’s Jazz Band provided the beat (with a beckoning to jitterbug) and for sweet anniversary wishes, there was a cake from Maurice’s Bakery with the façade of the club done in icing. At a choice moment, the call was to “gather” and everyone obliged, singing “Happy Birthday” and raising glasses of bubbly to toast 90 years.

The Big 4-0

Presented by the NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) Institute, the beneficiary, and Friends of NOCCA, “The Big 4-0! Gala” unfolded on campus in the brand new NOCCA Chevron Forum. The evening’s glorious fanfare and eager crowds attested to the growth of the school. It began in borrowed space at the New Orleans Museum of Art and the University of New Orleans. Now it occupies a state-of-the-art campus on the riverfront.

Contributing to the “Big” bash were the Solomon Group for lighting and effects; The New Orleans Advocate for media sponsorship; a slew of fine eateries; and, as major sponsors, the Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, the Patrick Family Foundation, and Friends of NOCCA.

The abundant entertainment highlighted NOCCA students from the Classical, Jazz, Vocal, Drama, Musical Theatre, Dance, and Creative Writing departments, namely Jee Yeoun Ko and Michael Pellera, the Young Alumni All-Stars, the Alumni All-Stars, and Grammy-winners Terence Blanchard and Pedrito Martinez. Along with spouse Robin Burgess, Terence hosted the event. (Readers of the New Yorker saw where the June 1 issue of the magazine called Blanchard “a virtuosic trumpeter and versatile composer.”)

Silent and live auctions made important $tatements, garnering big bucks with vacation packages, artwork, a ride in the Orpheus parade, earrings from Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers, and a night of food and music provided by NOCCA faculty members Michael Pellara (pianist) and Dana D’Anzi Tuohy (chef). Gesture conducted the silent auction and John Calhoun was tapped as the “live” auctioneer.

In addition to the co-hosting Terence Blanchard and Robin Burgess, the marquee names were those of Alumni Committee Chairwomen Celeste Marshall and Vanessa Van Vrancken, Anne and Paul Candies, a Patrick threesome in Robert “Bobby,” Debbie and daughter Karoline (a 2014-15 debutante), Rita and Floyd Gue of the Meraux Foundation, NOCCA Institute board President Joel Vilmenay and Shirelle, Institute executive director Sally Perry with Oley Sassone, Institute Vice President Greg Morey with Scott James, NOCCA President/CEO Kyle Wedberg and Michelle, NOCCA board Chairman Lee Randall with Kathy, and NOCCA alumnus Wendell Pierce. Robert “Bob” Cronin, an original faculty member, and spouse Emily came in from out of town for the 40 fete. They were seated at a table with Gay LeBreton and James Farwell and greeted a host of old pals.

Also noted were Mit Seiler and Marshall Lee, Martha and Gary Solomon, Gary Solomon Jr., Joyce Schenewerk, Annette Sisco, Kathy and Dr. Steve Price, David Schulingkamp, Kelly and James Brown, Milly and George Denegre, and countless others, many of whom arrived at the gala via complimentary pedicab service. All reveled in the bounty of the celebrated birthday and the anticipation of lots of future fetes.


The Hilton New Orleans Airport Hotel was the site for midday encomiums when the Jefferson Chamber honored the accomplishments of both large and small businesses and the impact they have made on the Jefferson Parish business community. Mastheaded “Business Leadership Awards,” the luncheon — with First NBC Bank as the presenting sponsor — started its program with a welcome from Todd Murphy, Jefferson Chamber president. Shortly afterward, 2015 Awards Committee Chairman Tom Meyer introduced the featured speaker, Simone Bruni, founder and owner of Demo Diva. Todd Matherne spearheaded the awards presentation.

Hailed as exemplary for “the Year” were Erik Frank, Entrepreneur; Gillis, Ellis & Baker, Small Business; Delta Personnel, Women Owned Business; Hollis Companies, Family Owned; MobileQubes, Innovator; and Boomtown New Orleans, Large Business. Tim Paulin and Mike Maenza were honored respectively with the Business Progress and the Joseph Rault Community Leader awards. Additional recognition limelighted as individuals Courtney Davis, Kristen Preau-Moore, and Todd Matherne.

As they applauded the honorees, dozens of guests enjoyed fine luncheon fare consisting of mixed green salad, roasted pork loin with Thai barbecue sauce, and double chocolate cake. Among the assembly mixing business with bonhomie pleasure were Ed Marshall, Steve Sawyer, Bonnie (Mrs. Joseph) Rault, Errol Laborde, Harold Rowland, Charlie Fredrick, Keith Quick, Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, Melissa Daigrepont, Lee Giorgio, Ray Seamon, Millie Baudier, Jennifer Amedee, Betsie Gambel, Amanda Graves, and Jefferson Chamber Young Professionals Co-Chairwoman Liz Van Dervort.