October 20, 2014

Scene & Heard

RED CARPET HONORS
Season started hollywood-style as Gulfshore Life magazine rolled out the red carpet to honor its Men & Women of the Decade: Myra Janco Daniels, Jim Nathan, Nancy and Bill Lascheid, Tom Monaghan, and Helene and Marvin Gralnick. I was especially touched as Jim Nathan teared up thanking his family for their understanding of his grueling hours. The music was hoppin’: jazz by the Danny Sinoff Quartet and a showstopper from Jimmy Norman, former lead singer for the Coasters. Everyone was up and singing Time is on My Side along with him. It’s a song he wrote, and the Rolling Stones turned it into a major hit. I’d call the chocolate dessert a major hit, too. As the clock struck midnight, Glenn Guiler, general manager of Cartier of Naples, took back the 64-ct. diamond necklace and diamond earrings from our host, Gulfshore Life publisher Lynne Groth. The Cinderella moment was over. "I feel dethroned," she said, smiling bravely. But thanks anyway, Lynne, for a terrific evening.

DRAMA AT LUNCH
On to more star power. What did it take to get two of the most powerful retailers in the nation, a former beauty queen, the empress of Edisonia and a homecoming king at the same luncheon? Answer: the celebration of Philanthropy Day in Southwest Florida. Scott Edmonds, CEO of Chico’s FAS Inc., could barely contain his excitement at a chance to meet one of his mentors, Jay Baker, former president of Kohl’s Corp. We revealed to a very surprised audience that Wilma Boyd, founder of Preferred Travel of Naples, won the Mrs. Pennsylvania contest back in the 1950s with a recipe for meatloaf. Berne Davis—Fort Myers native, friend of Thomas and Mina Edison, and 92 fruitful years old—roused the crowd with a spunky speech. In an emotional close to the proceedings, Auscensia Garza rose to celebrate her son, Primitivo. The Immokalee homecoming king was being honored as the Outstanding Youth Volunteer and presented with a scholarship for $10,000. People had told me that Auscensia was shy and that I’d never get her up on stage. But there’s nothing like a mother’s pride, and Auscensia reached everyone’s heart with a stirring tribute to Primitivo’s considerable achievements.

SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE
Talk about success on the charity circuit. The Angel Ball, benefiting the Community School of Naples, sent out invitations with a card inside saying, "Sorry, we are already sold out." Supporters raised more than $1 million for scholarships. A big thanks to Maria Stockard who bid nearly $5,000 on an auction item that included a limo ride for a group of students to the NBC2 studios in Fort Myers, a tour of the station and a chance to watch the 6 p.m. show live in the studio.

AWARDS AND DRESSES
We made some news, and I got a fashion lesson when the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce presented the Apex Award to the year’s outstanding woman in business at Harborside Event Center. This year’s recipient, Samira Beckwith, accepted the award from last year’s winner, Sandy Stilwell. Samira is the president and CEO of Hope Hospice. I was one of the hosts and felt just fine in my black knit sweater dress, black tights and ponytail. That is, until my co-host Amy Wegmann from FOX4 turned up in a swanky, emerald-green ball gown and a very elegant hairdo. Wait until next time. I’ll never be underdressed again. Promise.

There was yet another learning experience after the awards. The older I get, the less I seem to venture into downtown Fort Myers. But I found out I was missing a whole new scene with the River District. We crossed Bay Street and stopped in at H2, a great tapas and wine bar opened by respected chef Harold Balink. It offered a cozy setting and was packed with people over the age of 35. I felt as if I was back in Chicago. My co-anchor Craig Wolf gives accolades to another new downtown establishment, The Venue. Of course, you need to get past the red velvet ropes and a rather intimidating doorman to get in. Trying to pass for Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan might help.

TWINS ON THE WAY
My news director and friend, Darrel Adams, and his partner, Chuck Lieze, celebrated the pending birth of their twin girls at a baby shower for more than 50 people at their home off McGregor Boulevard. Guests enjoyed wine and finger foods in the garden of the 1960s waterfront home. Adams and Lieze have transformed their quarters into an Italian farmhouse, with modern touches added from stuff they bought during their many trips to Italy. Familiar faces from NBC2 and ABC7 on hand included Craig Wolf, Jessica Stilwell and Len Jennings. FOX4’s Patrick Nolan even crossed enemy lines to congratulate the fathers-to-be. The twins are due in February.

LIVE ACTION
You got a look at stunning artwork and a lively bidding war if you attended the Take Stock in Children Holiday Happy Hour at Legends Golf and Country Club. Put on by the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, it’s a chance for supporters to get together after work and raise scholarship money for public school students. Darryl Pottorf, world-famous artist and Captiva resident, created an absolutely dazzling piece of art for the event. Equally eye-catching: a hot bidding exchange over a good ole Southern barbecue hosted by Jeanne Dozier (chairman of the school board) and Dr. James Browder (superintendent). The leading three contestants: Cole Peacock (of Chico’s and a board member of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools), Harlan Parrish (president and CEO of Colonial Bank’s Florida West Coast region and the foundation’s chairman of the board) and Chuck Reynolds (senior vice president of Reliance Bank and the foundation’s vice chairman). The winner: Cole beat out the bankers. Eat, drink and be merry to the tune of the $3,000 winning price? I wonder what’s on that menu.

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