Two welcoming homes and a fairly new school were the sites for the night when, respectively, Chi Omega Eleusinian Cocktail Event of the New Orleans Chi Omega Alumnae Association, Friends of Jefferson the Beautiful and Tree School, and The Waldorf School of New Orleans rounded up constituencies. Luminosity prevailed.
One of the choicest parade-watching venues on St. Charles Avenue housed the Chi Omega Spring Party, the home of John and sorority alumna Dr. Jenny Charpentier. Her active days were at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Called the Eleusinian Cocktail Party, the event celebrates the founding of the women’s fraternity in 1895 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Now, there are more than 176 college chapters and 240 alum chapters in existence. In the Crescent City area, there are 260 Chi O’s, who are involved in a series of activities promoted by the sorority, such as Make-A-Wish Foundation and Toys for Tots. The local alumnae chapter actively supports the Chi Omega Rho Chapter at Tulane University.
Dozens of “sisters” and their guests made the rounds at the art-filled Charpentier home, admiring the premises as they sought out each other. Greeting them as they entered were alum chapter President Carol Pointer with husband David, and President-elect Lara Mintz with Cliff. Noted, too, were Jennifer and Peter Tompkins, who were the proud parents of 2013-2014 debutante Shelley Tompkins; Libby and Mark Adams – he’s talking up the gala 2014 season Preview Party for the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane on June 13 in Tulane’s Lupin Theater; and, with Bob, Lyn Fabacher. Lyn was noted in a recent Sunday matinee of “Death of a Salesman” at Le Petit Theatre along with friend Nell Lanier. Located in rows just behind them were Betty McDermott with daughter and son-in-law Martha and John Landrum (author of “The Jonkheer’s Wife”) and their son and daughter Sarah Landrum and George Landrum, who was joined by Connie Baum. One row behind them was Margaret Smith Birtel.
Still others, among the many, at the Chi O (also XO) alumnae event were Kay McArdle and Joe Handlin, Lynn Hoffman, Libbie Riess, Kate Isenmann, E. Lee Jahncke Meade and Elizabeth Smith. As they made tracks to the dining room table, they cast an eye on the pretty arrangements from Mitch’s Flowers of white tulips, hydrangeas, stock and gold roses. Michael Joyner Catering purveyed tasty paella, tuna, Belgian endive with blue cheese, fruit and various other fine fare.
Some of the attendees dressed in the sorority’s colors of cardinal red and straw (yellow) or wore a small owl pin to represent the mascot. They also recalled that the Eleusinian part of the name harks back to Greek mythology and the connection of the Eleusinian mysteries with the return of the Hades-abducted Persephone to her mother Demeter. Because of this reunion, the drought-infected earth enjoyed verdure and prosperity. It was spring!
Some of the conversation also tapped famous XO alums, namely jewelry designer Mignon Faget, authors Ellen Gilchrist and Harper Lee, and a brace of successive Miss Americas from Ole Miss. In 1959 Mary Ann Mobley (later Mrs. Gary Collins) had the title, and the next year sorority sister Lynda Lee Mead was selected as Miss America. She and husband Dr. John Shea Jr. live in Memphis. Recently, Lynda was in New Orleans and planned a lunch with sister-in-law Mary Shea (Mrs. Dave) Dixon. She also enjoyed socializing with Sybil and Blair Favrot at their showplace residence and gorgeous gardens.
Extended by Friends of Jefferson the Beautiful and Dr. and Mrs. John Counce II, the shades-of-green invitation on an eggshell background beckoned a constituency to cocktails honoring “The Sponsors and Speakers of Tree School Fourteen.” The stunning Old Metairie home of Jack and Yvonne Counce was the location for the twilight levity that included as out-of-town TS speakers Kevin Rice of New York; James Urban of Annapolis, Maryland; and Kim D. Coder of Athens, Georgia. Special thanks targeted “school” sponsors The Brown Foundation and the Lupin Foundation.
Rubbing shoulders and engaging in arboreal conversation as they savored the Portobello catering were Friends President Jackie Madden, Mary Ellen Pierson, Albert and Elesha Kelleher, Cindy and Joe Baucum, Carey Hammett, Dr. Arnold and Celia Lupin (daughter Lily chaired Junior Tree School in 2013), Michael and Mary Whealdon, Holley Haag and Patrick Quinn, Annette Adler, Dr. Charles “Chuck” and Beth Schibler, and, with Rebecca, speaker Neil Odenwald, Longue Vue’s 2012 Edith Stern Award recipient.
The following day, the speakers and panelists were limelighted at the Jefferson Parish Library-East Bank Regional Library. Lending an attentive ear were enthusiastic landscapers, architects, environmentalists, concerned citizens and arborists. The registration was at 8 a.m. and they broke for lunch.
Whereas the stars had not appeared when folks first arrived at the Waldorf School for its fundraiser, there was the outside decorative lighting provided by white paper lanterns, tiki torches and twinkle lights. As the revelry progressed the stars appeared in the sky.
The school, which is located on Soraparu Street just off Tchoupitoulas Street, was embellished within by white tulle and thousands of dangling fairy lights. A staged classroom featured children’s schoolwork, as well as sets and costumes from a recent play. Student art decorated the walls, and teacher art, the chalkboards, in the rooms used for the auction. More than 230 items enticed from a range of “silent” categories: Restaurants, Home, Antiques, Art, and For Him or Her. A raffle and prizes added further activity, as did the live auction with Jeff Boston and its attractions.
When it was time to sup, guests sat at tables set with white tablecloths, fresh flowers and tea lights and enjoyed the purveyance of several fine eateries and drinkeries.
Some of the conversation touched on the founding of the arts-based school in New Orleans in 2000 (that has Cissy Rowley as school administrator), which according to the “Starry Night” program, “is part of the fastest-growing independent school movement in the world.” There are 1,000 schools worldwide.
Regaling the crowd as entertainers were Panorama Jazz Band, singers Debbie Davis and Katherine McClain, Circus Arts School students, and the Pussyfooters, who got everybody dancing.
Noted were event Chairwoman Ginny Kaczmarek (with Ian Johnson) and previous event Chairwomen Ama Rogan (with Ben Schenck), Angele Crawford (with John), and Emily Skelding (with Philip). Also, donors Karen Johnson, Esther DeJong and Harley Weiner; Kenneth and Lesley Rubenstein; David Capasso and Tracy-Rene Helms-Capasso; Menet Rhyheiner; and committee members Julie and Alan Gandolfi, Pam and Nick Congemi, Monique O’Toole Vige and Matt O’Toole, and Celeste and Michael Kelly
From the WSNO board came Joni Tierce-Adams, Amiel J. Provosty with Stacie, Margaret Runyon (in a chic ensemble), Nicholas Nelson with teacher Rebecca, the above John Crawford and Angela, Michael Pelias with Erin, Heidi Anne Porter, and Sarah Clark with Celeste.