Cheer and Kudos

Closing Reception

It may have been Closing Reception at the Orleans Club, but it was an opening for summer nights and related congeniality. With Kathy (Mrs. Phillip) Youngberg as the chairwoman and Ann Yoder Swayze as her “co,” “A Southern Night on the Avenue” honored those who chaired committees. The background to the invitation’s wording was a sketch of the handsome club.

On the porch, the Joe Simon Trio greeted arriving Orleans Club members and their guests, who were greeted by the orchid-wearing President Betty Davidson. She was joined by husband Tom, and Mmes. Youngberg (with Phil) and Swayze. The committee chairmen were easily recognized, thanks to their name tags adorned with silk flowers.

Respective Flower Committee Chairwoman and Co-Chairwoman Sherry McFadden (with Hunter) and Kathleen Stassi decorated the club with an abundance of posies: yellow spider mums, irises, calla lilies, bird of paradise, and white button pompoms and carnations.

In between conversations, members moseyed over to the Gulf of Mexico display that featured crab claws, boiled shrimp, and seared tuna.

Many more offerings, both savory and sweet, thrilled the appetite.

Notables included President-Elect Marilyn Aiken, who was joined by Dr. David; Honorary Member awardee Betty Bagot with daughter Germaine Vorhoff and son-in-law Robbert; Cynthia Bassich; Cindy Woessner and Dr. Billy – their son, Reese, has an altar date soon with Leanne Buchert; The Ruth McEnery Stuart Clan President Elizabeth Ryan with John; Petricia and Wade Thompson; Cinci and Eddie Geoghegan; and Ann Middleton with guest Dan Todd. Ann’s son, Trevor, and Georgina Norton will also wed at her alma mater, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Another “Tying the knot” conversation ensued between Ann Swayze and Susan Hayne, concerning Ann’s son, Robby, and Susan’s daughter, Alycia.

Joining in all the club conviviality were Jo Nelle Kepper and Jim; Claire and Tim Avegno, who’ll be first-time grandparents, thanks to son Martin and daughter-in-law Elizabeth; and scores more, who discussed the club’s many programs and guest speakers presented in the spring, as well as what they’ll be up to in the summer.

Home is Where the Art Is

Celeste Marshall and Calvin Johnson Jr. paired to chair the annual Art & Soul Gala, which was presented by The NOCCA Institute, NOCCA’s nonprofit partner, and bannered “Home Is Where the Art Is.” The New Orleans Advocate was the media sponsor. More giving came from the Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation (patron party) and the Patrick Family Foundation (the first-ever Twilight Party after the gala). The locations were NOCCA’s Press Street Station (the caterer along with NOCCA’s Culinary Arts Department), 5 Press Gallery, and Solomon Family Hall in NOCCA’s Chevron Forum.

The vital victuals came from a slew of purveyors and the entertainment featured many NOCCA alums and present students. Faculty members Michael Pellera (piano) and chef Dana D’Anzi Tuohy offered a choice auction item: an evening of food and music. Other enticements were a stay in Tuscany and a bangle from Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers. For the oral activity, Mark Romig and Claire Elizabeth Thriffiley stepped forward as auctioneers.

Notables were numerous: Rita and Floyd Gue of the Meraux Foundation, Institute executive director Sally Perry and Oley Sassone, Anne and Paul Candies, Institute board President Gary Solomon Jr. (the Solomon Group provided lighting and effects) and Seth Bloom, NOCCA President and CEO Kyle Wedberg and Michelle, Pam and Warner Williams, Greg Morey and Scott James, Robert LeBlanc and Danielle, Kelly and James Brown, NOCCA board Chairman Lee Randall with Kathy, Shirelle and Joel Vilmenay, Martha and Gary Solomon, Joyce Schenewerk, Debbie and Steve Marx, Nikki and David Rubenstein, Ana and Dr. Juan Gershanik, and Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and Shawn.

The Business of Achievement

Established in 1984, the Business Hall of Fame of Junior Achievement of New Orleans honors local businessmen and women who have embraced the spirit of entrepreneurship in the community. The annual awards dinner, which was presented by First NBC Bank, unfolded in The Roosevelt Hotel.

Applauded as the 2016 laureates were chef John Besh, chef/owner, Besh Restaurant Group; David Fennelly, chairman of Associated Terminals & Turn Services; Michael L. Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc.; William Raymond Manning, president and CEO of Manning Architects; and Virginia C. Miller, partner/owner of Beuerman Miller Fitzgerald Inc. They were accompanied by Jenifer Besh (John), Carlos Sanchez (David), Marlene Hecht (Michael), and Bruce Wallis (Virginia).

The highlight of the encomiums was the recognition of Leah Chase, executive chef of Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, as the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner.

H. Merritt Lane III (with Elly), a 2006 Hall of Fame laureate, chaired the event. Additional luminaries and past laureates were Ashton Ryan Jr., Frank B. Stewart Jr. with Paulette, Robert W. “Bob” Merrick with Sheryl, Patricia C. “Pat” Denechaud, PK Scheerle, Roger Ogden, Margo DuBos with Clancy, Phyllis Taylor, Alden McDonald with Rhesa, Carroll Suggs, Marian Wallis, Roland von Kurnatowski with Mary, Bill Hines, Henry Coaxum with Karen, Mike Rodrigue with Lori, Klara Cvitanovich, Paul Flower with Donna, Manuel Perez de la Mesa, Tim Williamson with Jenny, Vanessa Brown Claiborne, and Glen Smith with Marilyn. About 275 others figured as attendees.

Fine food fare with a petit filet as the main course, flowers by The Plant Gallery, pianism by Phil Melancon, a procession of 16 BHoF members, video tributes, and the Crystal Eagle Award by Waterford to the laureates made the evening complete.