Filling the 'Bill'
“Bill, we are all here for you” said Caitlin Cain, CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans at a luncheon in the InterContinental Hotel. The 2018 recipient of the prestigious C. Alvin Bertel Award, William T. “Bill” Bergeron started his career in the maritime industry with a small, family-owned business, “which he grew into an international marine manufacturing and service firm with up to 1,400 employees and the largest reported inland river barge contract in U.S. maritime history at $58 million.” The award, established in 1967, is presented on behalf of 11 international trade, transportation, and economic organizations in the New Orleans area. Namesake Bertel was instrumental in the creation of the “Dock Board,” the New Orleans Port Commissioners, which has had Bergeron as both a commissioner and board chairman.
As guests enjoyed luncheon fare of a salad wedge, coffee marinated pork loin and pecan pie, the program ensued with welcoming remarks by WTCNO Chairman Thomas P. Spiers and an invocation by the Rev. Henry Ballard Jr., of the Christian Fellowship. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Brent Bourgeois, executive director of the New Orleans Board of Trade, garnered attention.
Chosen by the honoree, Sidney D. Torres III (a Bergeron relative) and former awardees Bernard L. Charbonnet Jr. (2005) and David H. Fennelly (2014) stepped forward as speakers, all with choice comments and encomiums. Robert R. Barkerding Jr., who also answers to Rusty, was tapped, as the 2017 Bertel honoree, to present the award to his successor. For reasons of health, Bergeron was not present, but in an animated video taken at Ochsner Hospital, he spoke with enthusiasm and gratitude. “I am so honored to receive this award.” His thanks targeted dozens of colleagues, supporters, family members (among whom were spouse Joyce Bergeron and daughter Tiffany Bergeron Cook) and friends.
Noted within the ranks of dozens were Meaghan McCormack, Walter Leger Jr., Michael W. Kearney (a past awardee, as were others), Stephen Hanemann, Michelle Ganon, Todd Fuller, E. Michael Bopp (who make a funny remark about cockroaches), Desiree Charbonnet, G. Ben Johnson, Sandra Lindquist, Will Cook, Emily Taylor Cook, Ron Marlow, Jim Letten, Bret LeBreton, David Vitter, Brennen Bradley, Ross Berlin, Elizabeth Bordelon and Eric Hoffman. Credited for the video work and photography were Nicholas Hall and Peter Forest, respectively. In a tribute video that included a number of the above, Port of New Orleans President and CEO Brandy Christian praised Bill (also Billy) Bergeron, saying, “I can’t think of anyone who has worked as long and as hard in the maritime industry.”
Despite the absence of the 2018 Bertel recipient, his presence was universally felt and observed. Laudatory remarks abounded and on each table, there was a cardboard mask of him.
The Press Club of New Orleans’ 60th Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards Gala unfolded in The Jung Hotel & Residences on a recent Saturday evening, starting with a Stoli-sponsored cocktail reception. For it, Daniel Victory, of Victory Bar, created two signature craft cocktails, the Island Fizz and the Russian Counselor, and Nayo Jones sang. Sucre provided sweets.
Press Club of New Orleans Vice President David T. Baker and board member Brittany Cruickshank chaired the gallivanting that was themed “Diamond Intrigue” to celebrate and honor the 60th anniversary. The décor of the room included a bevy of bouquets arranged with yellow and white spider mums and curly willow and placed on the numerous tables, where guests sat after going through the buffet line.
The program started with a welcome from outgoing President Doug Mouton, of WWL-TV, who was joined by spouse Jamie. Incoming President Melanie Warner Spencer, of Renaissance Publishing (with Mark) made remarks, followed by actor Billy Slaughter (a performer in more than 90 feature films and television series) as master of ceremonies, and Councilwoman Helena Moreno for a presentation.
The highlight of the evening — and there were many with myriad awards — was the recognition of Clancy DuBos (with Margo), Gambit Weekly, and Renette Dejoie-Hall, The Louisiana Weekly, as the Lifetime Achievement recipients. The program closed with presentations of scholarships and special awards, and the Silver Scribe announcement.
Present within a crowd of well over 300 were past President Kevin Mumphrey with Susan; Tod and Kenya Smith; additional Press Club board members in Mona Duffel Jones, Laura Jayne, Amy Barrios, Greg Buisson, Gina Swanson and Chris Finch; Elijah Levee; Councilmen Joseph Giarrusso and Jared Brossett; Dorothy, Brandin and Will DuBos; and Christopher, Tiffany, Brandon and Lauren Hall. Also, Norman Robinson, Dominic Massa, Rhett and Vanessa Sharpe, Ryan Ford and Mallory Turner, Derek and Kristina Vitrano, Wynton and Chelsea Holmes, Fletcher and Megan Mackel, Travers Mackel and Meg Gatto, John W. Bihm, Cheryl Gerber, Alan Smason, Rocio Mora, Errol Laborde and Peggy Scott Laborde, Nancy Parker and scores of award finalists and winners. Raffle items added an exclamation point.
Congratulations flowed to DuBos and Dejoie-Hall throughout the gala, which had yet another festive fillip: an After Party. More milling occurred, especially around the Phodat Booths, behind which was a white and gold sequined backdrop in coordination with the 2018 color scheme.
Christopher Marak Riess presides over the Bachelors’ Club of New Orleans, which includes as the 2018 officers Adam Michael Laurie, Joseph Ryan Acomb, Kenneth James Taylor Jr., Todd Bennett Johnson, Michael Joseph McKay, Edwin A.F. Ellinghausen IV and Howard Jordan Platt II. They assembled at a private location on St. Charles Avenue to welcome the debutantes whom the club will present on the eve of Thanksgiving. It will be the 79th annual presentation of the club, which was founded in 1939 and will be emceed by former President Howard Thompson (joined by Kate Prechter). Another past president, Jake Weinstock, was also present.
As the 2018 president, Riess welcomed the above officers and then, the debs and their families. There will be a pair of brother-sister combinations at the November event: Todd Johnson and Sarah and Connor Kurzweg and Caroline.
Sarah Johnson was not able to attend the Bachelors’ Club Summer Cocktail Party, nor were Emerson Carville, Louise Charbonnet, Caroline Chunn, Juliet Cimini, Charlotte Goldenburg, Madeleine Landry, Corinne Moffett, Madeleine Moise, Ashley Murphy, Chloe Pelitere, Jessica Schaumburg, Catherine Smith and Madeline Zimmer. They will make their curtsies, along with the summer party attendees, at the presentation.
Chatter about summer activities, as well as debutante events past and future, resounded as the BC brigade was lured to the taste treats by Barbara Roy Catering of Thai pork tenderloin, smoked pimento cheese in phyllo, Greek orzo pasta and assorted desserts.