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July 2010

Marguerite Piazza St. Jude Gala Blues Ball Spring Auction Gift of Life Gala Brooks Grand Auction Theatre Memphis Gala Q&A with Meri Armour

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Contents July 2010

From the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Signature Memphis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 When Debbi Fields Rose invites you to her kitchen, there’s bound to be some cookies baking.

RSVP Watch List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Six no-brainer items for the ultimate summer cookout.

Marguerite Piazza St. Jude Gala . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

14 MARGUERITE PIAZZA ST. JUDE GALA Lewis and Carolyn Clark

St. Jude supporters celebrated “A Cause, A Life, A Night” at the Cook Convention Center.

Onsites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20, 28, 46 & 47

38 GIFT OF LIFE GALA Kevin Spiegel and Dr. James Eason

Gatherings that have earned an honorable mention.

StreetSeens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 & 24 One wheel is all this cyclist needs for a good time. After entering the Miss Memphis pageant

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on a whim, she’s still in shock after seizing the title. StreetSeens highlight Richard Wertz and

Ashlee Reed.


The Cinco De Mayo-themed kick-off to Blues Ball unfolded at The Warehouse.


Blues Ball Spring Auction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Vox Popular . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Q&A with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital president and CEO, Meri Armour.

24 STREETSEEN Ashlee Reed

Gift of Life Gala . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Former Gift of Life Award recipients were honored at the National Kidney Foundation of West

40 BROOKS GRAND AUCTION Jerry and Danielle Donald

Tennessee’s fund-raiser at The Peabody.

Brooks Grand Auction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art resembled an Italian winery for its finale to the Art of Good Taste benefits.

Theatre Memphis Gala . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Going green isn’t just reserved for St. Patrick’s Day anymore, as Theatre Memphis lovers embraced the hue for the nonprofit’s annual charity gala, themed “The Emerald Party.”

RSVPhillippi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 We Saw Hungary, We Saw France


Dennis Phillippi stops off in Paris on his way to a Hungarian wedding and realizes he actually likes the French after years of mocking their culture.

BLUES BALL SPRING AUCTION Wanda Harris and Chastity Blair

44 THEATRE MEMPHIS GALA Lydia Hart and Carol Fletcher

Cover Photo Kathy Zanone and Douglas Doster at Brooks Grand Auction Photo by Nathan Berry

Volume XV

Number X


Roy Haithcock EDITOR


Ruth Cassin Kelly Cox Dennis Phillippi Suzanne Thompson Lesley Young ART DIRECTOR


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Baxter Buck Nathan Berry Roy Haithcock Don Perry Steve Roberts SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Libby Huff




Ruth Cassin RSVP Memphis is published monthly by Haithcock Communications, Inc. First class subscriptions are available for $55.00 per year. Send name and address with a check to: Haithcock Communications, Inc. 2282 Central Avenue Memphis, TN 38104 For advertising information contact Roy Haithcock Phone (901) 276-7787, ext. 101 Fax (901) 276-7785 e-mail WEB

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3UNDAY 4HUR S DAY PM T I L L PM 3AT UR DAY  3UNDAY PM T I L L PM 3UNDAY "R UNC H AM T I L L PM For editorial information or to request coverage of an event, please contact RSVP Magazine one month prior to the event. Call 901-276-7787, ext. 105 or fax to 901-276-7785. e-mail Follow us on

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From the Editor


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Photo by Steve Roberts

alking through the front door to the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air would put anyone in a good mood, but especially me—a bona fide cookie fanatic. So, when I recently had the privilege of visiting the home of Debbi Fields Rose for this month’s Signature Memphis shoot, you could say that I was more than ecstatic to step into a kitchen filled with the scent of chocolate chip, macadamia nut and oatmeal raisin cookies baking in the oven. The founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies had outdone herself again and deserved a big hug for making my day. While you could argue that the cookies I had were so melt-in-your-mouth good because Rose made them, I really think my appreciation relates to the fact that my host went out of her way for someone she hardly knows. In fact, all of my other interviewees for the July issue went above and beyond expectations in the graciousness department. From Richard Wertz (page 22) riding around Veteran’s Plaza on his unicycle numerous times for the perfect action shot to Miss Memphis (page 24) bringing several outfit changes and an upbeat attitude for an early morning shoot that almost got plagued by rain, niceties abounded. Then there was the unexpected tour Meri Armour (page 34) gave me of the new Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital prior to our Vox Popular interview. I didn’t even have the proper closed-toe shoes to be in the construction area, so Armour and one of her co-workers went running to find me a pair! In other news, I can’t believe July is here and that I’m finally going on vacation to a somewhat cooler destination; I rented On Golden Pond recently if that gives you any hint as to where I’m headed. If you’re venturing out of town this summer, be sure to take an RSVP Magazine with you and get someone to take your picture holding it in your chosen locale. Then, enter your picture in the Where in the World is RSVP? Contest (details on page 42) for a chance to win a James Davis gift certificate. Have a wonderful Fourth of July, and don’t forgot that my favorite summer fruit, blackberries, are ripe for the picking.



Leah Fitzpatrick

Founder and Chief Cookie Lover, Mrs. Fields Cookies/Cookbook Author

Favorite author: Napoleon Hill. First concert: Led Zeppelin in ’77. Guilty pleasure: Relaxing with sudoku. Favorite Memphis musician: Lily Afshar. Stress outlet: Making chocolate chip cookies. Ideal vacation spot: The Colorado mountains. Favorite album: Their Greatest Hits by the Eagles. First job: Oakland A’s foul line ball catcher–3rd base. Last book you’ve read: The Girl Who Played with Fire. One thing you can’t live without: Love from my hubby, family and friends. Where you take out-of-town guests: FedExForum for U of M Tigers’ games. Biggest obstacle you’ve overcome: Starting my own business when I was 20. One thing most people don’t know about you: I was a professional water skier. Personal hero: Brother-in-law Lt. Jeffrey Elson, who died in the line of duty rescuing others in Vietnam. Movie you could watch over and over again: The original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Your greatest achievement: Believing in the American Dream and knowing that hard work, unrelenting passion for perfection and loving what you do is a recipe that works! photo by Steve Roberts



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Marguerite Piazza St. Jude Gala “A Cause, A Life, A Night”

G Arnold and Mary Lynn Perl

Roy and Billie Cash



lamour was the name of the game at the 35th anniversary of the St. Jude benefit begun in Marguerite Piazza’s namesake. In honor of the monumental occasion, the décor, entertainment and even the party favors reflected our local opera star’s remarkable career. Five hundred guests, dressed to the nines, poured into the Cook Convention Center for the fund-raiser, but Piazza was the belle of the ball, and deservedly so. Because of her connection to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founder Danny Thomas, she committed to helping the hospital many years ago and has never looked back. More than three decades later, she has inspired numerous contributions to the cause and has enlisted a board of directors for the gala, with this year’s co-chair duties going to Scott Vogel and Jeanie Costa. The goal is to raise enough money to cover the hospital’s operating cost for one day, which is approximately $1.5 million. Upon arrival, supporters are given the ultimate gala experience, from cocktails to special adornments and performances. Models outfitted in gowns and costumes from Piazza’s operas and cabaret shows provided a unique touch to the 2010 festivities, as did the incorporation of electronic bidding stations for use during the silent auction. Tommie Pardue, a member of the gala’s board of directors, marveled at the new bidding method saying, “Did you see this card? All you have to do is scan it through the machine, and it has your bidding info.” The dinner hour offered more surprises, like a Marguerite Piazza Tribute grouped into “The Early Years,” “New York and ‘Your Show of Shows’ Years,” “First Visit to Memphis,” “The Supper Club Years,” “Cancer and the Faith It Requires” and “An Extraordinary Life!” Joe Birch of WMC-TV 5 emceed the program that also included the announcement of the Healing Rose Humanitarian Award recipients: Dr. Audrey Elizabeth Evans, Dr. Meredith and Tom Tweel and Bobbi and Don Rodgers. “A Cause, A Life, A Night” later, St. Jude will hopefully be one step closer to helping heal every child that comes through its doors. See all the party photos at Password: RSVP

Ted and Cynthia Schulz

Story by Leah Fitzpatrick Photos by Baxter Buck

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Tiger Tour Fashion Forecast Levitt Shell Kick-off Party


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Lauren Dillard and Robyn Boddie at Fashion Forecast



Ruby Dandridge and Yukita Manuel at Fashion Forecast

is new colors of blue and gray are suiting Larry Porter very well as he experienced a hearty reception from die-hard Tiger fans at the University of Memphis Spring 2010 Tiger Tour held at Hilton Memphis. The new head football coach spoke to the eager crowd at the Tiger Scholarship Fund benefit, as did men’s head basketball coach Josh Pastner and women’s head basketball coach Melissa McFerrin. The crowd of blue-and-graygarbed Tiger enthusiasts amped each other up discussing the upcoming season while snacking on tailgatingthemed goodies, such as barbecue and chips and dip, and pausing to ask for autographs from their favorite coaches during the Memphis stop of the tour. The coaches also made stops in Nashville and Jackson for the event. Thanks to CGI Entertainment and TaJuan Givens, Memphians had no need to travel to out of the Bluff City to get ahead of the game in fashion. Clotheshorses got a sneak peek of what’s to come at the second annual Fashion Forecast, a benefit runway show held at the Cadre Building. Styles from Patrick Henry, Maggie Dandridge, Darnice Harris, Danielle Pierce and boutiques like The Boulevard, Sneak Peek, Style Junkie and Eugene Michaels were highlighted during the evening, with a portion of proceeds going to Dress for Success Memphis. In addition to the fashion show, the event included cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres, as well as a reception so guests could meet the designers and place orders. The Levitt Shell was the place to be in the Bluff City as the spring music season kicked off with a fundraiser to commemorate the late Alex Chilton, frontman for the legendary Memphis band Big Star and singer for the Box Tops. Nearly 2000 fans packed the open-air theater on a sultry Saturday night to revel in truly great tunes. Performers included Star & Micey, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, John Davis of Superdrag, Van Duren, Amy Speace, Rick Steff of Lucero, Susan Marshall, Jimmy Stephens and, most notably, three surviving members of Big Star: Jody Stephens, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. A VIP party was held before the concert to raise additional funds for the Shell and featured a sumptuous spread donated by A Sustainable Chef.

Ed and Jerri Garavelli at Levitt Shell Kick-off Party

Amy Israel and Lisa Reeves at Levitt Shell Kick-off Party

Story by Ruth Cassin and Lesley Young Photos by Roy Haithcock and Lesley Young Tina and Carroll Todd at Levitt Shell Kick-off Party

Curtis Givens and Paris Cathwright at Fashion Forecast

Leland Gupton, Dave Klevan and Pat and Larry Scroggs at Tiger Tour

Kaitlyn, Ronda and Sean Berry at Tiger Tour

Mike Legg, Arianne Blair and Jeff Rower at Tiger Tour


Richard Wertz One Man, One Wheel, Infinite Possibilities

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erched on the seatpost of his 29-inch unicycle, Richard Wertz makes maneuvering a single wheel, without the use of hands mind you, look easy. He vouches however that seven years ago, when he took up unicycling at age 50, his riding was anything but effortless. “Riding a unicycle was something I’d always wanted to do, but it isn’t something you can learn by trying it out once a week,” he says. “It took me about 10 hours of practice over the course of two weeks before I could ride.” Wanting to find people who shared his cycling interest, Wertz came across the Memphis Unicycle Club on the Internet and decided to give the group a go. He remembers sitting back and watching at that first meetup in 2003 because he didn’t want to make a fool of himself. Pretty soon, he put aside his fear and began riding on Thursday nights from 6-8 p.m. with the MUCsters at Overton Park’s Veteran’s Plaza in warmer months and inside the First Congregational Church during the winter. The group also rides in events like the recent Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital grand opening parade and ventures to Shelby Farms for occasional trail riding, which is Wertz’s favorite way to ride. Other styles of riding the club tackles include distance, freestyle (challenging movement skills on a 20-inch wheel) and trials (riding on manmade obstacles like stairs and ramps). Wertz jokes he’s too old for trials, but he’s been known to ride for 10 miles at 20-minute intervals and works on skills like idling and one-foot riding. Amazed by his fellow MUCsters, Wertz applaudes several of them for being able to wheel walk, seat drag, ride down stairs, hop over logs in the woods and hop up to 29 inches vertically. He adds that the serious trials riders practice to increase their skill level in the Unicycling Society of America standings. “There’s so much you can do on a unicycle that people aren’t aware of, and though it might be challenging, once you learn how to relax and rest your weight on the seat, you’ll have so much fun and get a great workout,” he says. The uniqueness of unicycling is another draw for Wertz, who adores the priceless reactions the club attracts while riding. From kids shouting “Daddy, look!” to smiles, laughs and waves, the feedback keeps the club’s spirits up, but members aren’t appreciative of jokes involving circus music or a punch line that goes something like, “Have you lost your other wheel?” Wertz clarifies, “I do want to emphasize that this is a sport. We don’t juggle or have a routine.” With two unicycles available for beginners’ use, Wertz encourages others to come out and try a sport that few people can do but many wish they could. Don’t wait half a century like Wertz did to get on the wheel. Story by Leah Fitzpatrick Photo by Steve Roberts

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ooking out across the Memphis skyline wearing her sash and crown, Ashlee Reed appears to be embracing her 2010 Miss Memphis title just fine. Seven months ago, this accolade couldn’t have been further from reality, as Reed had no plans of competing in a pageant. A freshman at Belmont College at the time, Reed was busily working toward a songwriting major when her college suitemate, Cyrena Wages—the 2009 Miss Memphis, approached her about the contest. Reed had won the Miss Memphis Princess title in 2008, but she hadn’t given the Miss Memphis pageant any thought. The deadline for the entry fee had even passed. “I decided, ‘Why not?’ and I took a chance on entering,” Reed shares. She got in, and then the chaos began. Reed recalls not having enough time to buy outfits, so she borrowed a dress from Wages and wore her own prom dress. Her sister, Amber, helped with her hair. Luckily, Reed had the talent part down since she’d been singing as long as she remembers. Before she had time to blink, the Miss Memphis competition, which took place in December, had arrived. Admittedly a laid back person, Reed says she still got nervous because she couldn’t control the final outcome, so she let fate take its course. “Somehow, by the grace of God, I won, and I feel so fortunate because some people do 20 or 30 pageants and never get to go to state level,” she gushes. “Also, my sister, Amber, won Miss Memphis Princess that night, so our family felt really blessed.” Winning Miss Memphis meant that Reed had less than six months to prepare for the Miss Tennessee pageant in June. One of six children, Reed enlisted her family’s help with preparations, became a vegetarian and worked on her platform, “Promoting Community Service Among Today’s Youth.” At the top of her game plan was remembering to be herself, adventurous spirit included. “I never slow down and love to do things like cliff jumping, much to my mom’s disapproval before the pageant,” she says. One gets a sense the bigger the adrenaline rush, the better for Reed. And win or no win, she’s already one of our city’s crowning glories. Story by Leah Fitzpatrick Photo by Steve Roberts

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Majors Richard and Janeen McConniel with Mike Huckabee at Salvation Army Annual Dinner



McLean Wilson with Tom and Dee Dyer at Salvation Army Annual Dinner

heatre for Hope, a benefit for the children of Hope House, drew a sold-out crowd of 350 to Playhouse on Oliver.” Hilton Worldwide the Square for a showing of “O presented the fund-raiser that offered an array of silent auction items valued at $28,000, and Denise Fabian and Debby Stephens served as co-chairs. Before curtain call, the Suzuki Music Makers entertained guests in the lobby, where a buffet of goodies by Catering 4 U was assembled. Melanie Hardage was the evening’s featured performer. Though the St. Jude Picnic for Hope relocated from Cancer Survivor’s Park to the drier interior of Memphis Botanic Garden’s Hardin Hall, festivities still exuded springtime flair. Hula hooping with The Hooper Troopers, a bubble party, cupcake decorating by Gigi’s Cupcakes and art projects from the Dixon Gallery and Garden’s Art to Grow program were just a few activities that kids and adults participated in to help raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Also on the agenda were party tunes by Robyn and Ken Greene, a silent auction and lots of pizza eating thanks to an endless supply from Memphis Pizza Café. The Salvation Army, with the assistance of presenting sponsor, SunTrust Bank, landed Mike Huckabee as the keynote speaker for the Salvation Army Annual Dinner at the U of M Holiday Inn. Prior to dinner, a welcome reception took place in the Kemmons Wilson Gallery, where attendees had a chance to meet and greet Huckabee, the 44th governor of Arkansas and a 2008 U.S. presidential candidate. Merry and John Moore chaired the dinner that also recognized Salvation Army Outstanding Volunteers: Meg and Scott Crosby, Steve Nelson, Nancy Leggett and WREG-News Channel 3. Proceeds benefit Renewal Place, the Emergency Family Shelter and the Single Women’s Lodge, all located within the Purdue Center of Hope. Story and photos by Leah Fitzpatrick

Betty Dupont, Kevin Dean and Debby Stephens at Theatre for Hope

Brin Schaechtel and Tricia Spence at Theatre for Hope

Joyce Beggs and Jim Chenault at Theatre for Hope

Don and Anne Howdeshell at Salvation Army Annual Dinner

Matthew and Isaiah Travers at St. Jude Picnic for Hope

Emma Soefker, Isabel Hoppal, Maggie Montegut, Christie and Maddie McGee and Alexis Grace Conner at St. Jude Picnic for Hope

Riley Allen with Janice and Jason Gibert at St. Jude Picnic for Hope

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Blues Ball Spring Auction Cinco de Mayo Celebr ation

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ust because May 5 fell in the middle of the workweek, guests weren’t deterred from attending a fabulous fiesta to commemorate Cinco de Mayo. Held at the brightly decorated Warehouse in downtown’s South Main District, the event benefits numerous nonprofit organizations endowed by The Memphis Charitable Foundation. It was all things “down Mexico way” as guests enjoyed an array of tasty treats, such as fish tacos and Mexican shrimp cocktails from Flying Fish, El Mezcal’s quesadillas, beef flautas and rice and beans and the perennial favorite jalapeño soul burgers, courtesy of Earnestine & Hazel’s. Margaritas, both frozen and on the rocks, were plentiful, as were shots of Patrón Tequila, slid down through an ice luge, from Athens Distributing Company. Cervezas included Pacifico, Negra Modelo and Budweiser provided by D. Canale Beverages Inc. Delta Wholesale Liquors Inc. contributed a selection of wines. Entertainment was in abundance as well, with the return of Tim “Wild Thang” Lepard and his crowd-pleasing Team Ghost Riders—cowboy-clad capuchin monkeys riding border collies. MTV’s Muck Sticky and national recording star rapper Al Kapone rocked the house, much to everyone’s delight. However, the purpose of the party was also the highlight of the evening, an auction that featured some very unique and one-of-akind items. Among them was a large selection of Art Guitars, including “Long Live the King” by Dawn Edwards, “Knock on Wood” by Michael P. Maness, “Apollo Aldrin” by Shawn Woods, “Blues Ball Interplanetary One” by Ellis Chappell and “Less Paul Les Paul” by Penny Wolfe and Chris Lentz. Bidding was fast and furious on such hot ticket items like a $1,000 gift certificate to Saks, a seven-day January Caribbean sailing trip aboard a Catamaran, a Bellagio Resort package in Las Vega, polo lessons from the Memphis Polo Club, round trip airline tickets from Delta Airlines/Pinnacle Airlines, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova autographed tennis shoes by IMG, a Ground Zero Blues Club dinner for 10 and a VIP invitation for four to a pre-opening reception at the Ernest Withers Collection. Party host Pat Kerr Tigrett added that she was very excited the Blues Ball Spring Auction brought “energy and excitement to Memphis, while serving as a precursor to the fabulous Memphis in May activities.” Stay tuned for an even grander display of music, auction items and fun at the Blues Ball in the fall.

See all the party photos at Password: RSVP

Peter and Wendy Lindy

Story by Ruth Cassin Photos by Don Perry Jack Soden and George Klein

Jennifer and Joel Hobson

Kasey Catt and Michael O’Mell

Heather Dossey and Jennifer Wright

Carol Baker, Mary Lindsay Dickinson and Jennifer Fain

Bridget and Phil Trenary

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Chris Watson and Angela Martinez

Bill and Peggy Veeser

Mary Helen Holman and Mary Catherine Tagg

Robert and Amanda Pickens

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Sally Wilbourn and Valerie Calhoun

Herb and Laura O’Mell

Nikki Schroeder and Marlene Cota

Dr. Susan Murrmann and Henry Nelson

Samantha Gould and Jessica Sappenfield



C.C. Myers and Bill Hunt

Joe Mulherin and Ron Olson

Pat Kerr Tigrett and Dan Tucker

Robin Bender and John Kalb

Johnna Popper and Dr. Denis Freiden

D’Army and Adrienne Bailey


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Tricia Peacock, Beth McCarty and Dr. Loverd Peacock


John Elkington, Jon Hornyak and Joe Birch RSVP


Joella Parks, Dessia Blank and Sandra Harris

Preston and Lacy Carpenter with Rheagan and Philip Harris


Vox Popular Q&A with Meri Armour


eri Armour has a lot to smile about with the recent 610,000 square foot addition to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, but the hospital’s president and CEO claims the bright spot of her day is when she takes an hour to make rounds and see the kids. She will be making rounds in the new facility come the end of September, when patients move in. RSVP editor Leah Fitzpatrick joined Armour for a behindthe-scenes tour—hard hat and all—of the construction site, which already contains lots of interactive, kid-friendly art installations. The University of Memphis estimates that this project has put $3.7 billion back into the local economy and that the new hospital will create 200 jobs during the course of the next year. Best of all, she says, “Parents can drive by the building and know their kids will be safe because Le Bonheur will take care of them.”

Armour: Oh gosh, how can you not like kids? I think most people who go into children’s health care have a passion for kids, and I’ve always known that. I’m a nurse by background, and I knew that I wanted to do pediatric nursing. It’s a lot of fun.

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RSVP: You were working in Cleveland before Memphis, so how long were you working there?



Armour: I worked in Cleveland from 1988-2007, when I came here. Memphis was a great opportunity for me and coming to the South to live was a new experience for me and for my family. My husband retired from his banking job of 33 years, and he wanted to go some place that was warm where he could play golf. I wanted to come run a children’s hospital and had a great opportunity of building something brand new at Le Bonheur, so it was just a win-win all the way around. RSVP: What kind of changes have you noticed in pediatrics since you began your career? Armour: Children’s health care has come a very long way in the last 50-60 years. Before World World II, there really weren’t very many pediatricians, and pediatrics as a specialty came into being really after the war. Most children lived in rural areas across America, and everyone went to a general practitioner or family doctor. Pediatrics, in the time frame I’ve been in it, has seen some amazing discoveries and cures for kids. When I started out in the field of children’s cancer, virtually every child I took care of died. Now, the survival rate for children with leukemia is 98 percent, and, for those with brain tumors, it’s 60 percent. Children with cystic fibrosis just did not live past their teen years. Now, we’re taking care of people who are 40 or 50 with cystic fibrosis. General heart surgery wasn’t even a specialty until the 1980s. When you think about the strides we’ve made in pediatrics, they’ve come about at a much faster pace than those in adult medicine. We feel very much like we’re setting the pace for the rest of the world. Part of that is there’s just been so much dedicated focus to it. The 200 children’s hospitals around the country really combine their resources and their energy, so when we decide on protocols or the best treatments, it dissemi-

nates very quickly throughout the field. In adult medicine, that’s hard to do because the scale is so much bigger. RSVP: I read on the Le Bonheur Web site [] that the number one killer of children over 1 year old is accidental injury. Does that statistic apply nationwide? Armour: Yes. For children ages 1-6, accidents are the biggest cause of life-limiting or life-ending complications, so it’s very important to do things like Safe Kids Mid-South and focus our advocacy efforts around seat belts, helmets and grates on windows. All those things are prevention measures that we work on. Having a hospital like this [Le Bonheur] that serves as a trauma center is very important. When most people in Memphis and the Mid-South think about trauma, they always hear about The MED, but what you forget is that children 14 and under by law come to Le Bonheur. In the other half of the state, this age group goes to Vanderbilt, so there are really only two of us that do pediatric trauma in the state. People don’t realize this, but children are much more at risk to die from accidents. The reason that the death rate is high is because children are such smaller beings that a serious injury in a child has the potential to crush vital organs more, and blood loss is significantly more pronounced in children.

Photos by Don Perry

RSVP: What motivated you to work in children’s health care?

RSVP: Are there any misconceptions about Le Bonheur’s relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?

Armour: Yeah, people think we compete, but we don’t. We’re actually very complimentary and have a very close and warm relationship. St. Jude does incredible work, and we have great regard for what they do. Their mission is to find cures for catastrophic diseases like children’s cancer, so they’re a research hospital. We are a comprehensive pediatric children’s hospital, so we have nothing that we do that’s competitive in any way. I think the other thing is that people don’t really realize—and this isn’t unique to Memphis—that children have special health care needs. A big part of my life’s work is being able to say to people that children aren’t just little adults; they really are unique beings with unique physical needs. I use the example of heart disease. In the adult world, people get heart disease because of lifestyle; you get it from smoking, drinking, eating fatty foods, high blood

Maintain accreditation in the jail; Support monitoring non-violent repeat offenders; Work closely with Shelby County Schools and Memphis City Schools to address gang concerns; Support stronger legislation against violent offenders; Work hard to help build strong morale with the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office; Help create and support crime intervention and educational programs; and Support initiatives to alleviate the need for a “Second Chance”.

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RSVP: Why the recent change of the hospitalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name from Le Bonheur Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Medical Center to Le Bonheur Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hospital? Armour: I think the vernacular is important. You know, in the childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hospital world, we refer to ourselves as childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hospitals. A medical center usually implies something bigger than a singular hospital and building. While weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re very multifaceted and have a lot of components, the new name keeps us in concert with our sister childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hospitals across the country. The people who come here know what it means when you say â&#x20AC;&#x153;hospital.â&#x20AC;? Another thing is that the name change is really a callback to the original name of the hospital. It was originally built as Le Bonheur Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hospital. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re also going back to the original address of 848 Adams Ave. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that history that brought us forward 58 years to where we are now, so it just seemed fitting to make the name and address change. [Laughs] Plus, we couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fit â&#x20AC;&#x153;Le Bonheur Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Medical Centerâ&#x20AC;? on top of the new hospital. RSVP: How did you prepare for the opening festivities of the new Le Bonheur Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hospital building?



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pressure and high cholesterol. Kids donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t suffer from acquired heart disease. They suffer from congenital heart disease or birth defects, which require a different skill set of the surgery team and the repair work that goes on. The thing that is most frightening to me is that people think you can take your child to any emergency room or urgent care. If I could tell parents one thing, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that when your childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sick, you need a childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s specialist to take care of them.



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Armour: We had a number of things going on, and a number of different constituencies out here, but I really wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t thinking about that. I was really focused about making the festivities show that this hospital is a giveback to the community. Every time we open the doors and greet people, I feel like itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s another Christmas morning. The beauty of the events we had planned is that we had so many opportunities for so many different walks of life, friends, colleagues and Associates to be able to come and participate and really become a part of this gift. We didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do this by ourselves. This new hospital is 58 years of community support. One hundred million dollars of community money and gifts went into this, so for us, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s payback time. RSVP: What kinds of interesting features will the new hospital offer? Armour: Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got so many wonderful features, beginning with the fact that this building cost $340 million [$100 million from the community] and has 255 beds, 60 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

RSVP: Is there an online site that people can visit to see items being requested for the new hospital?

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Armour: If you go to, you can see what the hospital needs, like high chairs, swings and different kinds of toys. One of the things we really encourage is for kids to give back to kids. We have a pretty big teen council that we work with and siblings of kids who are chronic patients. Volunteerism is an important concept, so we let these young people see a side of the world they may not always see. The truth is kids relate to other kids. RSVP: What’s your 10-year plan for the hospital? Armour: Grow, grow and grow some more. This new building is not the finish line. Our next efforts are all geared toward growing the programs and expanding our contribution to finding solutions to problems that afflict children. Our other obligation is to respond to the community in terms of what its needs are.

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beds, 20 Pediatric Intensive Care Unit beds, 10 Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit beds, 21 Intermediate Care beds, 60 Emergency Department beds, five triage rooms and two biohazard and decontamination facilities, which are the only ones in the Mid-South now. The facility is designed for families by patients and families. We have a homelike environment, and art is going to be everywhere. We have family sleeping accommodations in every room. The Le Bonheur Club is founding a Family Resource Center, which will include private living room space for families, a big library, a computer research room and a special room for family dining so that the club can actually provide dinners for families. We have two in-hospital classrooms with two Memphis City School teachers to help kids keep up with their schoolwork. We have a Teen Room, a Creative Arts Room and a Spiritual Care Center, which has a chapel, sanctuary and two meditation rooms so you can be any religion, denomination or no religion at all and still come. We have The Learning Lab, which is sponsored by the Junior League of Memphis and will help parents and caregivers get ready to take home a child with special needs. We have a movie theater funded by our Associates, which will show first-run movies. We have a computer-based nurse call system with mobile devices. We have wireless technology for our kids on an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. We have wireless cardiac monitoring. We have an intraoperative MRI, which will connect with St. Jude so that they’ll be able to see the same images we’re seeing in the operating room. We have a 320 slice CT scanner, which will reduce the radiation exposure of children over the long haul. We’ll be LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] silver certified. We have automatic light and water conservation. We have 100 percent recycled steel and concrete in the building. Fifty percent of our waste for the construction is being recycled, and we have the largest modular energy plant in the country right now.


Gift of Life Gala


Honoring Gift of Life Award Recipients


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Drs. Wesam and Lama Ballouk

Judge Rhynette Hurd and Judge Lorrie Ridder



he National Kidney Foundation of West Tennessee was instrumental in getting many of its past Gift of Life Award recipients under one roof for the organization’s 21st annual black-tie affair. Held at The Peabody hotel, the fund-raiser also marked 42 years of service by the local NKF office. A cocktail reception kicked off the formal festivities in style, as 230 partygoers mixed, mingled and sampled a selection of cheeses, fruit and shrimp. Silent auction goodies lined the walls of the cocktail room and catered to all tastes with categories like “Ladies First,” “Just for Him,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Pack Your Bags” and “Entertaining Friends.” Out on the mezzanine, one of 32 panels from the “Patches of Love” quilt, made up of squares that represent organ donors and their families nationwide, was on view and helped drive the point of the fund-raiser home. Susan Smith, the NKF of West Tennessee board president, said, “This quilt is a way for donor families to commemorate loved ones, and it also helps put a face on your donation.” During the dinner hour, which took place next door in the splendor of the Continental Ballroom, the program continued on a serious note. First, the previous Gift of Life Award honorees, beginning with inaugural recipient Dr. Louis Britt (1990), were recognized. A video, narrated by some of the award recipients, aired next and highlighted the wonderful strides made in the field of nephrology through the years. Donor mother Mindy Fischer, whose son Will passed away at age 2 from a massive stroke, also spoke about the importance of organ donation and how it gives families choices when they have none. “Organ donation wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one for us,” Fischer shared. “Because of Will, life-changing gifts were given to seven other people.” The speakers definitely delivered messages to ponder, but dancing to tunes by the Soul Shockers was a no-brainer for those ready to celebrate the “gift of life.” Organizers were also thankful for the gold sponsorship of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and for the NKF of West Tennessee executive director, Mable Barringer, who Dr. Britt touted as the “heart and soul of the Kidney Foundation.”

Stacy and Jim Dorris

Erica Augusto and Leland Burress

See all the party photos at Story and photos by Leah Fitzpatrick Password: RSVP

Dr. Eric Gardner and Nikki Taylor

Tonya Ryan and John Rountree

Pam Tupman and Susan Smith

Karen and Adam Hamburger, Kevin and Judy Spiegel, Erica Warren and Eric Callan

Shawnelle and Omar Davis

EVENT GIFT OF LIFE GALA Carlos and Debbie Webb, John Walpole and Ingrid and Robert Bolding

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Cathy and Patrick Martin with Angela Fountain

Kim Huch and Stephanie Wall

Shirley Williams and Angela Foster RSVP


Laura and Jack Kelley

Thelma Mabry, Dr. Fred Hatch and Lula Mayfield

Tanesha Matthews and Landrus Burress

David and Joann Bell

Phyllis Jones, Inell Allen and Louise Burks


Brooks Grand Auction


“L a Dolce Vita”


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Andrea and Jay Harvey

Tim and Victoria Disalvo



uring one serene spring night, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art catered to a different kind of art—winemaking. What an occasion it was, with seven winemakers from Italy traveling to Memphis to pour their vino at the Brooks Grand Auction, the finale to the museum’s Art of Good Taste fund-raiser series. Glancing around the rotunda and Brushmark Restaurant, one could easily see “La Dolce Vita” in full bloom. From numerous tasting stations offering appetizers like potato dumplings and shrimp from Felicia Suzanne’s and pork belly and polenta from Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen to beautiful original paintings on display in the silent auction and gorgeous hydrangea bouquets, the surroundings exuded luxury. Furthering the ambiance was the appearance of Chef Lidia Bastianich, on hand to autograph copies of Lidia Cooks from the Heart, and a display case of Mednikow jewelry by Elizabeth Locke, who uses 16th and 17th century Venetian glass molds in her pieces. For dinner, partygoers made their way to a large tent set up on the museum plaza. Inside, diners were greeted by a wealth of color, including green, turquoise, peach and pink sequined table linens and tall arrangements of roses, hydrangeas and tulips. Wine could be found chilling in buckets on top of the tables, which also boasted picnic-style baskets of baguettes, crackers, cheeses and cold meats. Clear hurricane vases with flickering candles were positioned around the centerpieces and helped illuminate delectable preparations by Chefs Wally Joe and Andrew Adams. The real center of attention was the impressive live auction, manned by guest auctioneer Christopher Klingenstein. Just shy of 50 items, the live auction featured many a vacation, dinner, tasting and, of course, collector-worthy wine. Paddles were raised left and right, with the highest bid—$30,000—garnered for a barrel of 2007 Silver Oak (Alexander Valley) cabernet. Once again, co-chairs Frank Muscari and Mark Parker organized the affair that helps continue the Brooks’ rich tradition of bringing education outreach and wonderful changing exhibitions to Memphians. Thanks to some 300 guests at the Grand Auction, and many more at the preceding Art of Good Taste events, 2010 was the second most successful year in the event’s 16-year history.

Julie and Chris Caputo

Leslie and Michael Mullis

Story by Leah Fitzpatrick Photos by Nathan Berry See all the party photos at Password: RSVP Bryan and Courtney Smith

Josh and Joanna Lipman

Gary Wunderlich and Libby Ware

Andy Ticer, Nick Talarico and Michael Hudman

Elliot and Lee Morris

EVENT David and Cheryl Schlitt

Ashlee Rivalto and Lindsey Hedgepeth

Lindsey McGrew and Josh Hammond


Armando Castagnedi and Elena Felluga

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Cathy and Tim Dalfiume



Beni and Mike Dragutsky

Jerry and Lori Harvey

Emily Ketner and Andrew Adams

Linda Farmer and Larry Hardy

Carolyn and Scott Heppel

Joelle and Jeff Harvey


Mike and Gay Williams with Riley Jones

Jim and Jan Moeller

Jim and Terri Witkosky



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Marc Kullman with Diane and Daniel Weickenand

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Andrea Ziccarelli and Dr. Janice Shier

Devin Dixon and Krista Endres

EVENT BROOKS GRAND AUCTION Suzanne Gibbard and “Blackie” Blackburn

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Julien Prevost and Melanie Towery Prevost

Anne and Thayne Muller with Suzana Lightman RSVP


Tom and Deborah Harrison

Jennifer Culotta and Abigail Smith

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Cheryl Coday, Cindy Price and Connie Lampen


Theatre Memphis Gala


“The Emerald Party”


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Rebecca Key and Bob Laurie

Junienne and Jewell Reed



or one night only, the Yellow Brick Road took a detour from Oz and led travelers up the steps and into the doors of Theatre Memphis. Though lions and tigers and bears were traded in for Garland, Gershwin and Glazier, Oh My!, other characters from the movie made an appearance, including Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Wicked Witch and the Wizard, for the local theater’s annual gala, this year themed “The Emerald Party.” “Because we were able to get Richard Glazier, who mentored under Judy Garland and George Gershwin, and because it’s the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz and our 90th, we decided to design the whole program around that theme,” said Randall Hartzog, director of marketing and communications and the Grand Oz for the night. Though it was green-tie optional, many bought into the green theme and showed up in their emerald best to bid on the rainbow of silent auction items amongst emerald green-dressed tables and walls. Guests also enjoyed buffet tables and open bars situated throughout the lobby as Joyce Cobb took everyone on a musical journey of her soulful sounds. At the end of the live auction, led by FM 100’s Ron Olson, attendees made their way into the theater for the evening’s highlight, Richard Glazier. A Steinway pianist, Glazier delighted young and old with his one-man show “From Gershwin to Garland,” which included a solo piano version of “Rhapsody in Blue” and colorful tales of the Gershwins and other great stars of the Golden Age of Popular Song. For those who weren’t through celebrating the theater’s success, Oz turned into Club 90z with tornadic tunes spun by DJ Glenn Miller and a cash bar with Munchie-kins. “It’s a fun way for people to experience the theater, to experience it in a different way,” said executive producer Debbie Litch, also the Wicked Witch. “It’s the perfect way to celebrate our 90th anniversary as we continue on another 90 years.” Added former president Lenore Binswanger, “It just doesn’t get any better than Theatre Memphis.” See all the party photos at Password: RSVP

Pearl and Dave Pollow

Story by Lesley Young Photos by Don Perry

Melody and Brian McCuller

Ginny Henderson and John Webb

Paul and Cristina Guibao

Davanna Jared and Jacob Galecki

André Bruce Ward, Debbie Litch and Jack Kendal

Donna Lillard and Mark Hatgas

EVENT THEATRE MEMPHIS GALA Vicki Olson and Annette Askew

Teresa Davis and Tommie Pardue

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Elvira Ormseth and Chantal Johnson

Judge John and Michelle Fowlkes

Dennis and Sarah Norton RSVP


Lesley Young and Randall Hartzog

Lola and Bob Llewellyn

Dan Conaway and Ann Sharp

Charles and Carol Sharpe

Mac and Teresa Bailey

Bill and Chey Widdop



Four Seasons/Memory, Inc. Spring Charter Celebration Party Greater Memphis Greenline Beer and Wine Tasting RiverArtsFest Poster Launch Party


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Bette Peeper and Babbie Lovett at Four Seasons/Memory, Inc. Spring Charter Celebration Party


46 Shannon Dorsett and Susan Clarke at Four Seasons/Memory, Inc. Spring Charter Celebration Party

Todd Strickland and Alla Olswanger at Four Seasons/Memory, Inc. Spring Charter Celebration Party

Mark Miesse and Bill Draper at Greater Memphis Greenline Beer and Wine Tasting

hose fighting Alzheimer’s were close to the hearts of attendees at the Four Seasons/Memory, Inc. Spring Charter Celebration Party. Bette and Coy Peeper hosted the affair at their home, which was chock full of guests listening to piano tunes by Betty Carol Germany and vocals by Debbie Kines, munching on delectables courtesy of Party Tenders and enjoying fashions by Seriously FUN! Apparel, a boutique that donated 10 percent of proceeds to the organization. During lunch, Babbie Lovett received the Woman of Achievement Award, and Clarke’s Quick Print was recognized for its printing donations for the past 13 years. Bikers and pedestrians will be glad to know that plans are off the ground for a world-class recreational multi-use trail system in Memphis. Greater Memphis Greenline, Inc. is helping with the effort to develop unused railway right-of-ways and easements in Memphis and Shelby County and recently announced successful negotiations between the county and CSX Railroad. To spread the word, GMGI board member Mark Miesse opened his house to supporters at the first Greater Memphis Greenline Beer and Wine Tasting. Drinks flowed aplenty thanks to Southwestern Distributing Company, and appetizers came from A Moveable Feast. Sondra Levingston and Janis Iansmith baked scooter pies for the party that boasted worldrenowned classic guitarist Lily Afshar as the musical guest. What wasn’t going on in downtown Memphis the last Friday of May? Airshow biplanes tumbled in the sky, the Memphis Zombie Massacre fumbled toward Beale and the RiverArtsFest launched its 2010 poster at a whistle-stop on the monthly South Main art tour that is Trolley Night. This year’s commemorative poster was derived from an original painting by Jimpsie Ayres and represented a dynamic leaping figure surrounded by creamy blues. The unveiling party was held in the spacious and eclectic showroom of See The Difference Interiors, where a constant stream of art scene supporters greeted each other to the sound of Jesse Smith’s saxophone. RiverArtsFest, which aims to promote Memphis as an arts-oriented community, attracts tens of thousands of visitors to its annual, two-day arts festival in October. Story and photos by Kelly Cox and Leah Fitzpatrick

Ron Buck, Greg Maxted and Laura and Bo Adams at Greater Memphis Greenline Beer and Wine Tasting

Caroline Walker and Ada Askew at RiverArtsFest Poster Launch Party

Barry and Blake Lichterman at RiverArtsFest Poster Launch Party

Jeanette and Steve Martin at RiverArtsFest Poster Launch Party

Marcela Pinilla, Matt Park and Scout Anglin at Greater Memphis Greenline Beer and Wine Tasting



UNICO Wine and Cheese Festival Planned Parenthood Patron Party Susan G. Komen Grant Reception “Adopt a Shelter Pet” Stamp Unveiling

KC Warren, Dr. Jeff Warren and Kitty Cannon at Planned Parenthood Patron Party

Nora Boone, Erling Jensen and Barry Chase at Planned Parenthood Patron Party

Beth Cawein, Andrea Olson and Elizabeth Cawein at Planned Parenthood Patron Party

Photo by Andrea Zucker

Susan King and Dr. Susan Hoover at Susan G. Komen Grant Reception

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Deborah Camp, Barbara Standing, Congressman Steve Cohen, Mayor A C Wharton and Linda Brown at “Adopt a Shelter Pet” Stamp Unveiling

Carolyn Furlotte, LaShawn Hampton and Lorraine Wolf at Susan G. Komen Grant Reception


Dana Davis at “Adopt a Shelter Pet” Stamp Unveiling

ttendees of the UNICO Wine and Cheese Festival Toast to Italy” to promote Italian heritage gave a “T and raise funds for various local charities. The Sundayafternoon affair unfolded at Hilton Memphis with an Italian wine tasting courtesy of Southwestern Distributing Company, Delta Wholesale Liquors and Victor L. Robi-lio Company, Inc. and food by Pete & Sam’s, Coletta’s, Garibaldi’s Pizza and La Baguette. A live and silent auction also took place, but the highlight of the day was the Little Miss Italy Contest and the presence of the UNICO National president, André DiMino, and first lady, Jenny DiMino. Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region not only thanked its generous sponsors at the annual Planned Parenthood Patron Party, but the organization used the opportunity to announce the office’s move to 2430 Poplar this summer. Kitty Cannon hosted the affair at her home with the help of co-chairs KC and Dr. Jeff Warren. Chef Erling Jensen’s delicious shrimp and grits and coq au vin were the highlights of a scrumptious buffet, and throughout the evening, the Vaziri Brothers delighted the crowd with acoustic guitar music. More than 75 grantees, sponsors and board members attended the Memphis/Mid-South affiliate of the annual Susan G. Komen for the Cure Grant Reception at the Crescent Club. Holliday Flowers donated floral arrangements for the occasion where Dr. Susan Hoover, chair of the Memphis-Mid-South affiliate grant committee, awarded grants totaling $851,358 to support Shelby, DeSoto, Tunica, Tipton and Fayette County breast health education and breast cancer screening and treatment programs. The funds were made possible by generous donations, Komen fund-raisers and the October 2009 Race for the Cure. Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services hosted the Adopt a local unveiling of the 2010 limited edition “A Shelter Pet” stamp at Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects. Pets from Memphis Animal Services were available for adoption along with the USPS mobile post office offering the stamps for sale during the event. Keynote speakers, who assisted with the official stamp unveiling, were Memphis Animal Services administrator Matthew Pepper, Congressman Steve Cohen, Mayor A C Wharton and Linda Brown, USPS public relations representative. Story and Photos Submitted

Photo by Andrea Zucker


Ron and Kathy Poletti at UNICO Memphis Wine and Cheese Festival

Kellie Cortese and Linda Spano at UNICO Memphis Wine and Cheese Festival


By Dennis Phillippi


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n all the years I’ve been writing for this fine magazine, this is, I believe, the first time I’ve ever done a two-part column. If you happened to pick up RSVP last month, and happened to read this page, you read about how my wife and I were lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s wedding in Budapest and how we decided to stop off in Paris for a few days on the way. That’s a pretty big deal. We’re talking once in a lifetime here. We’re talking right up there with driving a NASCAR car or winning an argument with your mother-inlaw big. This was all made possible by cashing in every frequent flyer mile we had ever accrued. Trust me, a lot of frequent flyer miles were used. For this many miles, we should’ve been able to fly to the Space Station sitting on Sir Richard Branson’s lap. First, we flew overnight to Amsterdam for a bumpy, miserable seven hours in the middle of a big plane, two rows from the back. Once upon a time, I would’ve just thought that was that much closer to the drink cart, but airlines aren’t as loose with the booze as they used to be. I was inadequately tranquilized and spent the flight watching bad movies and envying my sleeping wife…who had been adequately tranquilized. In Amsterdam, we discovered that our seats had been, for the second time, reassigned, and we weren’t sitting together on the flight to Paris. I was very tired and sleep deprived and may have been a little bit of a baby about it. My wife, having slept like a baby on the first flight, a heavily medicated baby, was more amenable. I was a baby about that, too. Then, some elaborate seat switching took place and somehow we ended up in first class so some French guy could sit with his wife and kids in the crappy seats we had traded with someone else. Things were swinging along nicely at that point, and then we landed in Paris. We hadn’t thought this part through; we had managed to land in Paris on a Friday afternoon at the beginning of a holiday weekend. That is, apparently, the moment when everyone in Paris decides to leave Paris, driving by the airport in the process. This was the worst traffic jam since the Nazis gummed up all the traffic with tanks. It was also, easily, the most expen-

sive cab ride of our lives. We could’ve rented a helicopter into the city for less. The ride was long, hot, tedious and, for the most part, ugly. We didn’t say it to one another, but we were panicking a little about Paris not being so romantic and dreamy in the spring as we had hoped. Then suddenly there it was, the Paris of the movies: the perfect tree-lined streets of French Kiss, Something’s Gotta Give and a hundred other romantic come-

For this many miles, we should’ve been able to fly to the Space Station sitting on Sir Richard Branson’s lap. dies with happy endings. By the time we got checked into our lovely little hotel and found a sidewalk café that served enormous European beers with a funny and charming waiter named Karim, we had fallen in love with Paris. You have to understand, this was hard for me. As a humorist, I’ve used the French as a punching bag my entire career. I have called them stinky and rude, pompous and weak. I’ve mocked their stance on our political positions and blamed them for mime. Now, I had to admit that they were gracious, kind, tolerant and had a lot of leggy supermodels in shorts skirts riding on the backs of motorcycles. By the end of the evening, we were besotted, jet lagged and drunk on Paris…and beer. We danced together on a bridge over the Seine with the lights of the

Eiffel Tower shining on our faces. My wife spun like Gigi, laughing at the beauty of this perfect city. We love Paris. We love France. That’s just embarrassing. For the next five days, we reveled in ideal spring weather, sitting outside for every meal and spending the evenings sitting at sidewalk bars, meeting people with funny accents. We saw the Louvre, which is much bigger than I could describe here. Everyone says it’s big, but this is a different kind of big. It would take Godzilla days to crush the place. We saw the Mona Lisa and all the other must-see art. We also saw lots and lots of paintings of flying babies. We went to Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter and up in the Eiffel Tower, which scared the bubbles right out of my Champagne. I know it’s been there for a long time and millions of people have been up in the thing, but it still just doesn’t look safe. It’s really pretty though. Eventually we had to leave Paris, but then we were in Budapest and it’s another place you can’t believe you get to be in. It’s ancient, chaotic and looks like a painting. They also sell liquor everywhere. That’s always a plus. We wandered that city too, and if you get the chance, you should also, assuming you’ve also been hoarding frequent flyer miles forever. Our friends Luca and Stephen got hitched in a little church on an island in the Danube, and it was every bit as advertized. By the time we got to the wedding we had almost forgotten it was the reason for the trip, but then we got to see our great friend, looking beautiful because she is, walking down the aisle to marry another of our great friends, who looked like he would lose consciousness any second. Later, I got to kid around with Stephen’s supercool daughter Rosemary, while all the adults made speeches and stuff. This trip was so romantic I feel like a big girl talking about it. It will be hard to beat spending a week-and-a-half in Europe in the spring with the woman I’ve loved for a quarter of a century. I can’t believe I like France.

Dennis Phillippi, we like part two of your European adventure about as much as we enjoy National Lampoon’s European Vacation, so kudos on penning a successful sequel!


Break Time

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livia Lee Ball (Franklin) and classmates pose in the sun on the lawn of Booker T. Washington High School, where Blair T. Hunt was the principal. The famous South Memphis eatery, The Harlem House, provides a backdrop. The sun set in Olivia’s (forefront, second on the right) beautiful life on December 25, 2009. PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVIA’S NIECE, JACQUELYN BALL SCRUGGS If you have a past photo you would like to share with RSVP readers, please contact Leah Fitzpatrick at 276-7787 ext. 105 or e-mail the photo and caption to All photos will be returned promptly.


RSVP Magazine  

Lifestyle, entertainment magazine covering Memphis MidSouth

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