We've had lots of events lately that put the accomplishments of others in the spotlight. So let's get to it.
We came, we drank, we ate and we honored Baton Rouge’s own milkman — not a bad way to spend a Sunday night.
The Baton Rouge Epicurean Society fêted Ben Kleinpeter, patriarch of Kleinpeter Farms Dairy, at its 12th annual Grace “Mama” Marino Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner on July 15 at the Renaissance Hotel. As the several hundred guests arrived, the 90-year-old Kleinpeter held court in the hotel foyer, shaking hands, sharing memories and sporting a huge ear-to-ear smile.
In the foyer, hotel chef Drue Vitter served up the nibbles and we sipped on Champagne. For the six-course dinner, flexing their culinary muscles were chefs Don Bergeron, with Chef Don Bergeron Enterprises; Joshua Hebert, with The Cabin; Kiet "Ricky" Hoang, with Tsunami; Jeremy Langlois, with Chef John Folse’s White Oak Plantation; Chris Nicosia and Alex Hammon, with the Louisiana Culinary Institute; and Susan Strange, with City Pork & Brassiere.
Right before our main course, a scrumptious quail dish paired with a cabernet sauvignon, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome joined BRES President Lisa Boudreaux-Lecoq and the BRES board in presenting Kleinpeter with his award and the key to the city. That was followed by a fast-paced live auction conducted by the Brian Fourroux and mistress of ceremonies, Whitney Vann.
The Fête Rouge Grand Tasting is coming up on Aug. 17 at L’Auberge Event Center. Get your tickets at bresbr.org.
New Light honors
The love and genuine concern for former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who is battling an aggressive form of ocular melanoma, and former WAFB news anchor Donna Britt, who is battling ALS, was palpable at New Light Missionary Baptist Church last Sunday. Thunderous standing ovations greeted them both.
These two women were among several honored at the church’s annual Family & Friends Day Celebration. This year’s celebration was dedicated to members of the armed forces and law enforcement.
Blanco received her award from former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who proved that at age 91, he’s still got it. He relayed a story of a poor woman who everyday walked out on the porch of her shotgun house and thanked God for the day. Next door lived an atheist who chided her for thinking God had anything to do with the sun, the rain, etc. One day she prayed for God to please send her food as she had none and was starving. The next morning she walked out and found a bag of groceries on her porch. She immediately started thanking God when the atheist neighbor interrupted her. “You old fool, God didn’t get you those groceries, I did!” She fell on her knees, thanked God for the groceries and, “even better, for getting the devil to pay for them.”
Others recognized at the event included Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser; state Reps. Barbara Carpenter and Patrick Jefferson; former Angola Warden Burl Cain; former Louisiana Veterans Affairs director Hunt Downer; Family Court Judge Hunter Green; Slidell Mayor Greg Cromer; Eric Coleman Jr., of the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s Office; Pat McCallister-LeDuff, president of Community Against Drugs & Violence; Dan Morgan, assistant commissioner of management and finance, Department of Agriculture; Jordan Piazza, co-owner Phil’s Oyster Bar; Troy Hebert, former state representative and state senator; Reginald Keith Collins, founder of Starlight Gospel Singers and Southern University Interdenominational Gospel Choir; Robert McGarner Jr., deputy chief of Baton Rouge Police; Jackie Honeycutt, financial specialist with Wells Fargo and previously with the U.S. Army; V.J. Bella, former state fire marshal, state representative and World War II veteran; Danny Roy Moore, former state senator and World War II veteran; Albert Joseph Henry Sr., U.S. Army Vietnam veteran; Jim Engster, owner/president, Louisiana Radio Network; Navy veteran Vincent Nzinga; James Lewis, community activist and a member of Brothers-in-Vettes Corvette Club; and John Williams, real estate agent and members of Brothers-in-Vettes Corvette Club.
Making presentations were Downer, Leo Honeycutt, Kenneth Henderson, Sharon Metz Williams, Rená Spears, Rachel Cain, Sheila McCan, Dot Jarvis and Penny Bouquet. Offering up prayers were Eric Lane and Judge John Michael Guidry.
On July 11, I started the day with the “founding fathers” of ExxonMobil’s Plastics Plant. They were celebrating its 50th anniversary and had invited everybody who had worked there to join them at Ashley Manor for lunch, a slideshow down memory lane and the swapping of tall tales. It was so much fun to watch these retirees reconnect. Like so many workplaces, they often spent more time together than they did with their families, creating a unique bond.
My host was Tom Boyd and wife, Francine. I enjoyed visiting with Toni Scardina, whose dad also worked at Exxon, with the Scheurichs and with Seaborn Thomas, who was the 26th employee hired to work in the plant.
He and Tom took the microphone to share some of their memories, as did Harold Rideau and Hans Othner. Also addressing the hundred or so guests was Dave Luecke, plant manager for ExxonMobil Chemical. He started his career at the plastics plant back in 1985 and seems real happy to be back in Baton Rouge.
These days, politics will either make you laugh — or cry. Walt Handelsman, The Advocate’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, was the man of the hour July 11 when the Old State Capitol asked him to share insights into presenting ideas to those with varying points of view. The presentation coincides with a current exhibit of political editorial cartoons on display at Old State Capitol.
One of Walt's cartoons taking a good-natured jab at the number of special legislative sessions was on the invitation. Two legislators are wailing in front of the State Capitol with one explaining that once the current special session ends “we need another special session to pay for all these special sessions.” See, you either laugh or cry.
Next up was the Young Leaders Academy's graduation ceremony. If you’re not familiar with this organization, its mission for the past 25 years has been to “nurture the development of leadership abilities of young African-American males, empowering them to improve the quality of their lives and assist them in becoming productive citizens.”
It’s 18th graduating class consisted of two very impressive young men: Xavier Glover and Sirr Williams. Glover, who was in the program for six years, also received the Director’s Award from director Kenneth McFarland. Williams was recognized for having higher than a 3.4 grade-point average.
The commencement address was delivered by attorney Christopher Washington. He challenged them to read the book “Relentless” by Tim Grover, the legendary trainer who has worked with the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
The celebration wrapped up with a reception at St. Luke Episcopal Church’s Pope Hall.
The week started off at the Inter-Civic Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s Summer Social at the Lake Sherwood Club House. This is a group that, along with The Advocate, presents the Golden Deeds Award each year. And, just like the council is gearing up for some exciting changes, so are the Golden Deeds.
The council is expanding its membership to nonprofits and civic organizations throughout the greater Baton Rouge area and thus expanding the circle of potential award winners. The Golden Deeds are getting some additional sponsors.
As Advocate Marketing guru Charlene Robert explains, this year we’re being joined by Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry in presenting this very prestigious award. Paretti Jaguar — Land Rover is coming on board as an additional sponsor for the awards dinner, which takes place Nov. 13.