Business Hall of Fame

One of the highlights of the annual Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame presented by First NBC Bank — with additional thanks to Laureate Sponsor Peoples Health — is the Procession of Laureates. It follows the Chairman’s Reception and features those in-attendance local businessmen and women, members of the Business Hall of Fame, who have embraced the spirit of entrepreneurship in our community. They enter by “class year” to begin the evening’s activity. Established in 1984, the Business Hall of Fame recognizes significant contribution to the success of their profession.

Newly tapped, and thus eligible to participate in the 2016 procession were 2015 honorees: Vanessa Brown Claiborne, president of Chaffe & Associates Inc.; Manuel Perez de la Mesa, president and CEO of POOLCORP; Martin A. Mayer, president and CEO of Stirling Properties; Glen D. Smith, CEO of the Magnolia Companies of Louisiana LLC; and Tim Williamson, co-founder and CEO of The Idea Village. During their induction ceremony, they were awarded the Crystal Eagle, designed by Waterford, in recognition of their business achievements. Accompanying them were Ana Perez de la Mesa, Marilyn Smith, Jenny Williamson, and with Bob Merrick, Sheryl Duplantis.

Teamed to select the 2015 honorees were Patricia C. “Pat” Denechaud, Katharine G. Kay, Katie LeGardeur, Suzanne T. Mestayer, Ashton J. Ryan Jr., and Clark A. Todd.

Each year, one former Hall of Famer is selected as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner. The most recent accolades befell Robert W. “Bob” Merrick, chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum Inc., and known, as well, for his business discipline, work ethic, and philanthropy. “I’m really honored,” he said as he was about to enter the ballroom of The Roosevelt, where the dinner and ceremony was staged.

Since the first presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to the now-late Alden “Doc” Laborde in 2001, the successive honorees have been the late James J. Coleman, John P. Laborde (brother of Doc), the late T.G. “Teddy” Solomon, Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger, Frank B. Stewart Jr., Sydney J. Besthoff III, Ella Brennan, Robert H. Boh, G. Frank Purvis Jr., James E. “Jimmy” Fitzmorris Jr., Thomas B. “Tommy” B. Coleman (son of the above James J. Coleman), Dr. Norman C. Francis, and, in 2014, Dr. Scott S. Cowen.

Attending from their ranks was Frank Stewart, who was joined by spouse Paulette. Other notables were 2015 BHoF Chairman Ashton J Ryan Jr., 2014 Chairman Gary N. Solomon with Martha, H. Merritt Lane III, Pat Denechaud, Roger H. Ogden, Marian Wallis, Dr. Charles Teamer with Linda, Alden McDonald with Rhesa, Carroll Suggs, Doug Thornton with Denise, Jimmy Maurin, Roy Glapion with Inez, Klara Cvitanovich, new parents Chad and Vanessa Berg, and JA President Jack Brancewicz, who during the program, gave an update on the organization.

When it was time to sup, laureates and guests dined on a salad of mixed baby greens, petit filet mignon, and salted caramel chocolate decadence and milk chocolate mousse. The Plant Gallery did the flowers, which caught every eye in their colors of green, pink, coral, hot pink and yellow. Adding the musical chromatics was Philip Melancon, whose pianism during dinner rendered another treat.

Fine Fellows

On a recent Friday evening, the Louisiana Bar Foundation held its 29th annual Fellows Gala, a black-tie celebration, in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. A patron party preceded the main event with a special menu, including maple-glazed alligator sausage in a blanket. India Stewart designed the patron gifts and the honoree awards.

Hailed during the formalities were 2014 Distinguished Jurist John W. Greene, retired, 22nd Judicial District Court; 2014 Distinguished Attorney Allen L. Smith Jr. (posthumously), Plauche, Smith & Nieset LLC; 2014 Distinguished Professor Gail S. Stephenson, Southern University Law Center; and, for the 2014 Calogero Justice Award, Marta-Ann Schnabel, O’Bryan & Schnabel LLC. By their professional activities, they have brought credit and honor to the legal profession.

Joining them were wife Judy Greene, son Allen Smith III, husband Joseph Stephenson, and husband of Ms. Schnabel, Kevin O’Bryan.

Headliners, and there were many, included gala Co-Chairwomen Karli Glascock Johnson and Sharonda Williams, Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, retired Chief Justice Pascal Calogero, Minor Pipes with Jill, Jane and Dr. Stephen Sherman, Valerie Briggs Bargas and Trey, Mike Street, Phil Wittmann with Anne, Elwood Cahill and Sandra, Patricia Krebs, David and Shelly Bienvenu, Paula and Bob Ates, board liaison Chris Ralston with Kelsey Meeks, Suzanne Jones, and Judge C. Wendell Manning with wife Ashley and children Margaret, Jefferson and Rosemary.

Among the gala’s features were a martini bar with thanks to Republic National Distributing Company, hand-decorated (and for sale) martini glasses by LBF staff member Kathleen McNelis, photography by Matthew Hinton, music by John Mahoney & Band, red rose topiaries by Dee Carson, and a fine repast beginning with a caramelized Brussels sprouts salad that continued with grilled hanger steak and concluded with Financier strawberry cake.

Attracting widespread attention were the silent and live auctions. Within the “winning” ranks were Dr. Steve Sherman, “Offshore Fishing Trip for 4,” and Elwood Cahill, “House of Blues Foundation Room.” The “Mustang Experience at the NOLA Motorsports Park also revved up the bidding excitement.

Distinguished Daughters

Founded five years after the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the area Spirit of ’76 Chapter celebrated its 120th anniversary recently. During the annual meeting, Carlie Winstanley and Marcia Hubbard were recognized as the outstanding officer and program chairwoman, while Kathy Dickey and Suzanne Kuhn were cited as 50-year members. Cathy Langhoff was elected honorary regent.

A party chaired by Pam Richmond Burck occurred later and unfolded at the St. Charles Avenue home of William C. “Bill” Coe Jr. Mingling were Chapter Regent Ann de Montluzin Farmer with Thomas; Vice Regents Lee Lynch, Marcia Hubbard and Pam Welsh with Patrick, Jim and Jeffrey; chaplain Judy Ahearns; past Regents Cathy Langhoff with Irwin, Arthemise Gros with Ed, and Patti Millan; and Vice President General of NSDAR Bonnie Pepper Cook.

Also, and committed to the DAR goals of patriotism, historic preservation and education, were Houstonian Anita Morrison Griffin, Amie Seba with Richard, Katherine de Montluzin, Denise Schimek with Dr. Bob, Patty Muehlemann, Kathy Dickey, and Lisa Slatten.

n Around and About

Among those enjoying a balmy, late-Sunday afternoon at the 42nd annual New Orleans Greek Festival chaired by Ginny Zissis were Danae Columbus, Murray and Gerri Valene, and Michelle and Lamar Villere with their kids. Another earlier Sunday activity was the special dinner at Cochon Restaurant to benefit the students of the seventh-grade class at the Waldorf School. It was hosted by chef Stephen Stryjewski, co-owner of Cochon, Cochon Butcher, and Peche Seafood Grill.

At the Anthony Bean Community Theater, guests are wildly applauding Bean-directed “The Color Purple,” “the musical about love,” that was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker.

A Sunday matinee audience included Nancy Oelschlaeger, Nancy Cotton and son Kenneth, Diane M. Sherman, and Louaunne and Blaze L. Gilyot. All expressed enjoyment about the production and some fine acting. “Extraordinary” said Nancy Oelschlaeger about Asia Nelson in the lead role of Celie. Louaunne continued, saying “Asia Nelson played Celie from the deepest emotional part of her heart. It was wonderful.” She added, “My husband even ‘teared up’ twice at Celie’s performance.” He, and just about everybody in the audience, who gave Asia and the cast a standing ovation.