And they were made with and by the New Orleans Chapter of The Links Inc. at its “Swing into Spring,” a tribute to the Cotton Club, and a homage to Linkage Award Recipient Irvin Mayfield; the 13th Willwoods Gala, which honored Sharon and Mark Rodi as the 2014 Servus Fidelis recipients; and the Founders Chapter of the Louisiana Colonials. At LC’s biannual luncheon, Sally Kittredge Reeves, longtime archivist for the Notarial Archives of the Civil District Court of New Orleans, received the Preservation Award in recognition of her past presidency of the Louisiana Historical Society and, currently, as “the person” to contact for historical research in New Orleans. Respective venues for the events were the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, and the Metairie and New Orleans country clubs.
At the Lakefront Airport, spirits were aloft thanks to the New Orleans Chapter of The Links, which channeled erstwhile glamour into a present-day party. The “look” was right on. Mona’s Accents aligned the stars, both thematic and attendee, to fuse the ambiance of Harlem’s Cotton Club and the Art Deco design of the site. In front of the entrance, a red carpet and a vintage car made retro real. Within the airport’s atrium, the thematic period’s glitz and glam were evoked in the fluted silver and glass vases that held ostrich plumes. White pearls, as well as oversize ones, nestled at the base of each vase.
Many Links ladies dressed accordingly, making vintage viable. This was indeed the night to sport feather boas, sequined head bands, sautoirs or other long strands or pearls, fringe dresses, and long gloves. All for steppin’ out!
Many attendees agreed that chapter members Dr. Tami Singleton and Christine Guillory stole the “Swing” show with their vintage attire. As did their chapter cohorts, they donned black Art Deco beaded appliques and feather hair clips, which some chose to hear as brooches.
Headliners included chapter President Verdie F. Richburg; event Chairwomen Ruth L. Ramsey and Cordelia D. Tullous; Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette J. Johnson, 2013 Linkage Award recipient and a former chapter president; and Rhesa O. McDonald and husband Alden, president/CEO/founder of Liberty Bank, a Big Band Sponsor along with First NBC, GenoVive, and Entergy.
From the City Council came former chapter President Nadine Ramsey (“elect” at that time) and James Gray with his wife, Judge Ernestine S. Gray, another former chapter prez (as are some of the following).
Still others making “Swing” the thing were chapter Vice President Vonda F. Rice, Dr. Florencia Polite with husband/Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Kenneth Polite, Judge Angelique Reed, Catherine Packer, Olga Pierre, Robin Burgess (aka Mrs. Terrance Blanchard), Brooke Minto, Maple Jackson Gaines, Chimene Grant Connor, and Ann Guillory, mom of the above-mentioned Christine A. Guillory, the chapter’s program chairwoman. Ann’s Links affiliation is with the Bergen County, New Jersey, chapter.
Messina’s catered, offering palate pleasures. As for the auction, 32 items created a buzz in the bidding. Chief among them were jewelry, wine, accessories, and sports donations, such as a Wheaties cereal box autographed by National Basketball Association legend (and former New Orleans Hornets executive) Willis Reed. Getting back to the honoree, a private music lesson with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Experience garnered the “green.”
A Grammy and Billboard Award-winning artist, Mayfield has 15 albums to his credit. In addition, he counts a legion of community and professional titles and holds an honorary doctorate from Dillard University. His community-oriented “Love Sessions,” a series of concerts, direct all proceeds to local non-profit groups. The New Orleans Chapter of the Links Inc. “is proud and grateful to have been included in the 2012 lineup of benefactor organizations.”
The groove was quickly relished at the bash when The Mike Foster Project featuring Nayo Jones struck up the sounds. Everyone heeded the call to dance when the band played Pharrell Williams’ infectious “Happy,” arguably the at-present happiest song on the planet.
Concerning tributes, where there was a Rodi way, there was a Willwoods representation and a gathering on a recent Saturday evening. Guests first assembled for Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Church and then headed to the Metairie Country Club for cocktails and dinner. Along with hailing the above Sharon and Mark Rodi, gala attendees showed support for Willwoods, a non-profit organization and its ministries, which includes WLAE-TV.
Willwoods Community board members Mary Jane and John Becker introduced Sharon and Mark, recounting their many contributions to the Catholic community of New Orleans. Willwoods Community Chaircouple Susie and Pat Veters and Willwoods Community President the Rev. Thomas E. Chambers, C .S.C., then joined the Beckers in presenting the award. The honored twosome graciously accepted the award with Mark giving most of the credit to spouse Sharon. Monsignor Christopher Nalty, who was joined by his mother, Jane (Mrs. Paul) Nalty, served as master of ceremonies.
Giving hearty applause to the 2014 recipients were the above-mentioned along with Rodi family members, namely Shannon Rodi Nash with Michael and their children, Ryan, Michael and Claire, and Erin Rodi Rotolo with Brian and their children, Megan, Merritt and Morgan. Also, Mary Ann Valentino with daughter Lisette Turpin, Margie and Sandy Villere, Erin and Joe Caruso, Ken Tedesco with Betty Landreaux, Marilyn and Peter Quirk, Penny and Richard O’Krepki, Dr. Frank and Donie Schmidt, Sister Myra Banquer, M.S.C., Marla Garvey, Dione and Ron Yager, Pat Andras, Dr. Michael and Dr. Denice Derbes Vales, and Michelle and Rowland Stalter.
Earlier, and when it was time to sup, guests sat at tables centered with colorful bouquets of roses and spring flowers. Country Club salad, pan-seared filet with Bearnaise sauce, and Baked Alaska made menu ever so meaningful.
Socializing for a half hour preceded the noon luncheon of the Founders Chapter of Louisiana Colonials, who enjoyed fine fare of turtle soup, chicken breast, asparagus, and a “tuile” dessert containing praline sauce over vanilla ice cream. A visual treat was the view from the New Orleans Country Club’s Founders’ Room of the 330-year-old oak tree.
Assembled were Bonnie Pepper Cook, who recently returned from Washington, D.C., where she attended the National Society United States Daughters of 1812 Associate Council, and her former Holy Name of Jesus schoolmate, Eugenie “Noonee” Nalty Brooks. They are planning their 55th class reunion. Another plan afoot is the Louisiana Colonials’ recognition of the tricentennial of New Orleans in 2018.
Breaking bread with them were Theodore Autin and sister Joann O’Neal, in from Gulfport, Mississippi; Carole Gloger from Baton Rouge; Clyde and Joanne LeBlanc and two of their 14 children, Jeanne Williams (the new president of Les Causeries du Lundi) and Suzanne LeMaitre; Patricia “Patti” Millan and mom Marie Curry; sisters Amie Borne and Betty Trachtman with Dr. Louis; Gayle Ehrensing; Elizabeth Villere “Lou Lou” Tidmore; Linda Cashio; Arthemise Gros with Ed, who was recently voted Honorary Life Membership in the organization for his work of many years on the Preservation Award; and Susan Judice and Dr. Robert, who traveled to the luncheon from their plantation home, The Hermitage. Officers re-elected for a second term included the above Bonnie Cook, Sue Browne, Judy Ahrens, the above Patti Millan, Leda Sobon, and a brace of Carols: Carol Long and Carol Schexnayder.
Certainly the highlight of the midday meeting was the laureling of Sally Reeves with the Preservation Award. A host of congratulations accompanied her honor.