Three recent events showed community and social strength. Two added sartorial. The annual Sippin’ in Seersucker to benefit the Ogden Museum of Southern Art took place in the Shops at Canal Place; earlier that same day, and at the Audubon Tea Room, Bridge House/Grace House held its 19th annual Women of Substance Luncheon; and, at a later date, the Metairie Country Club was the site for the First NBC-presented Jefferson Chamber 2014 Business Leadership Awards. Huzzahs, all!


More than 500 in the Sippin’ set gathered in the Shops at Canal Place to salute summer wear. To raise Ogden Museum funds, too, and enjoy an evening of “Southern art, live music, cocktails, cuisine, fashion, and shopping.”

Tabitha (also the mistress of ceremonies) and Micaiah Bethune and Katye and Trey Fayard chaired the fun that included food and drink from a slew of purveyors, served on two levels; Alex Beard as the Kohlmeyer Circle Legacy awardee; a committee of dozens; six raffle packages; a silent auction; and entertainment by NOCCA alum Stephen Walker & Friends, and later, by the Creole String Beans, which features Rob Savoy. The “Down Boy” lyrics jolted a set of revelers to the floor.

And there was, of course, the fascination with the namesake fabric: the light, thin cloth (generally cotton) with a crinkled surface and striped pattern. In Hindi, it’s “sirsakar,” meaning milk and sugar. There were manifestations in tablecloths, pink or blue seersucker, and garments. Pink roses and blue hyacinths were placed in silver mint julep cups and used as centerpieces.

Anyone sporting seersucker was automatically entered in the competition for the “best and most creative seersucker ensemble.” Answering to Seersucker Sartorialists were L. Kasimu Harris, Andi Eaton, Paris Hatcher and Jovan Jeanpierre.

Taking in all the fun were museum founding benefactor Roger Ogden, who’s getting congratulations on his third grandchild, Preston Kehoe Ogden, whose parents are Roger’s son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Field and Michelle Ogden; Ogden Museum of Southern Art board Chairwoman Allison Kendrick; Carla Adams of the Shops; Calvin and Frances Fayard; Caroline Fayard; Dr. Troy Scroggins; Dawn Wheelahan; Skye Truax; Keyia Mavita; Jason Gross; Butler Burdine; Andrew Freeman; Abhi Bhansali; Diane Franco; and Beth Adams. For starters.

Women of Substance

“Saving Graces: Women of Wellness” themed the Bridge House/Grace House Luncheon that packed the Audubon Tea Room and hailed Dr. Jayne Gurtler, who was inspired by her late father, Dr. Schlosser, to try to change the course of cancer; P.K. Scheerle, R.N., founder of American Nursing Services; and Carol A. Solomon, CEO of Peoples Health. Each one addressed the audience with choice words.

Other acknowledgements went to Deacon Jay Albert and to Meg Farris, the respective Richard “Buzzy” Gaiennie and Volunteer Recognition award recipients, and to Alumna of the Year Lauren Selenberg.

Additional headliners were BH/GH CEO Else Pedersen, executive director of clinical services Michelle Gaiennie, executive director of development Kevin Gardere, and master of ceremonies Mark Romig. As he has for years, Mike Morris sang “Amazing Grace.” He was given special thanks, along with emcee Mark Romig, photographer Richard Vallon, and Banana Republic.

Combining their know-how for one of the spring’s best auctions were Andree Batt, Denise Thornton and Carey Yacoubian, all three figuring on the WofS Committee of 18 individuals. In addition to the auction, a raffle generated excitement, as did the for-purchase Angel Wing centerpieces made by the above artist Denise Thornton and hand painted by Tracey Lightfoot.

Noted within the luncheon levity were Irene Klinger, Natalie James, Brenda Higgins, Debbie Friedman, Joyce Kisner, Richard Buchsbaum (of the Tea Room), Jean Rice, Joan Ingram, Faith Peperone, and Mary Kathryn Orsulak, who delivered a special message during the program.

Business Accolades

The Jefferson Chamber 2014 Business Leadership Awards honored a host of representative names. Included were Leon L. Giorgio, Joseph Rault Community Leader of the Year and presented by Peoples Health; Jeris Freesmeier, State Farm Agency, Entrepreneurial Spirit; and as cited “For the Year,” Shelia Hodges, Starr Textile Services, Women Owned Business; Daul Insurance Agency, Family Owned Business; NOLA Motorsports Park, Innovator; The Laitram Corporation, Large Business; and Universal Data Inc, Small Business. BooKoo Bounce, FSC Interactive and PosiGen received US Chamber Blue Ribbon Awards, and Terry L. Ancar, PortaVision Medical, LLC, was the JEDCO Challenge Winner. Special thanks tapped the awards committee members: Tom Meyer, Betsie Gambel, Ed Lepre, Joan Mollohan, and Matt Preuett.

Prior to partaking of a scrumptious luncheon of salad, chicken, and dessert, Jefferson Chamber President Todd P. Murphy took to the podium for the welcome. Following him were Jefferson Chamber Board Chairman Byron LeBlanc for the Pledge of Allegiance and Fred Beebe, senior vice president of First NBC Bank and chamber board member.

After lunch, the program continued with Nick Karl of Peoples Health presenting the Rault Award to Lee Girogio (of Select Properties Ltd.), the above Todd Murphy and JEDCO’s Jerry Bologna recognizing business awards recipients, and closing remarks by Byron LeBlanc.

Included in the audience were Jefferson Parish President John Young, Bonnie (Mrs. Joseph) Rault, Gerard Beck, Ken Hamrick, Joan Mollohan, Jenny and Johnny Domiano, Amanda Graves, Sean Hillis and countless others.

A highlight — among the many — of the program was the talk by featured speaker Lauren LeBlanc, the woman behind the “much-loved New Orleans brand, Fleurty Girl.” A single mother of three, in 2009, she took her income tax refund check of $2,000 and set about realizing her can-do spirit (against many odds). Her unique T-shirts and apparel are found in five retail locations around the Crescent City and her multi-million company now has 30 employees.