Health and Hobnobbing

The second Raising Hope for Mental Health assembled supporters of NAMI New Orleans at the impressive home of Katherine and Tony Gelderman. The local affiliate of NAMI, which stands for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, “provides hope, help and healing to people living with mental illness and their families.” (Since the Raising Hope reception, the two New Orleans-area chapters of NAMI, New Orleans and St. Tammany, have merged and will serve a nine-parish region across south Louisiana. Nick Richard will answer to CEO of NAMI SELA.)”.

“Wallis Gelderman House” titles the Garden District Association marker that is next to the front gate of the hosts’ home, which was built in 1852 for Louisa and John Samuel Wallis. The double-galleried “Classic-Revival mansion” was purchased by the Geldermans in 2001 and remains true to its original architecture.

Needless to say, the residence was a lure for the fundraising levity that NAMI booked for a recent Thursday evening. Summer cocktail attire was suggested. Spouses Betty and Dr. Ken Tedesco co-chaired the event that included as committee members David Catherman, Lori L. Dunn, Stacey Mattison, Brian Cuyler, Walton Goldring, Susan Norwood (with Woody) and Virginia Weinmann. Joseph I. Giarrusso III, New Orleans City Council member and a champion of mental health, was the event’s honoree. Jesuit High School, the University of Texas, and LSU Law School are his alma maters. Joining Joe at the reception were his wife, Cassie, their two daughters, and his mother, retired Judge Robin M. Giarrusso. The honoree, named after his late father, was celebrated and congratulated for his advocacy and championship of “Mental Health for All.”

Additional notables were board president Ashleigh Castro, then-interim executive director (the above) Nick Richard, Judy Nides and Lisa Doussan, and Wendy Beron. Also, Jackie and Bruce Shreves, past awardee retired Judge Calvin Johnson and wife Dr. Deidre Hayes, Lauren Cuyler with dad Brian, state Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman, Dr. Fred and Susan Rodriguez, City Council member Eugene Green, and Liz Yager. Serving on the board are some of the above – David Catherman, Susan Norwood and Betty Tedesco – as well as officers Nancy Moore, Viviana Aldous and Irel Sears; and Megan Andry, Leisa Farrar, Rhonda Lee, Eric Malone, Stacey Mattison and, another Stacey, surnamed Schexnayder.

Thanks tapped top patrons, Raising COURAGE category donors, Joe Giarrusso III, Walton and Jeffrey Goldring, and Susan and Woody Norwood. In the Raising TRUST listing were Mrs. Robert H. Boh, Katherine and Tony Gelderman, Adrea D. Heebe, River Oaks Hospital and Mrs. John G. Weinmann, the above Virginia Weinmann. Dozens more figured in the remaining two patron groups.

As the approximately 130 guests milled about, all admiring the Gelderman residence and gratified to support the event’s worthy cause, they flocked to the dining room. Several small elevated plastic stands held ham sandwich “purses,” while nearby an array of desserts beckoned. Elsewhere, hors d’oeuvres were passed bountifully. Capdeboscq Catering Services LLC provided the food and the Sazerac/Goldring Family Foundation, the drinks.

Guests also reveled in the bidding on the 15 silent auction items that included Saints sports memorabilia, hotel and restaurant pairings, and Murano glass jewelry items.

Making the evening especially lively was the Electric Yat Jazz Trio. Stationed in the front foyer, they delighted the NAMI hobnobbers with their “strings attached” fresh stylings of a slew of musical genres.

Merit

“We pledge to support our alma mater.” So reads one of the lines of the Emeritus Club Oath of Induction of Tulane Alumni. The club welcomes 50-year graduates of Tulane and Newcomb and taps their time and talents in furthering the mission of the university. For years, the Tulane Alumni and Newcomb Alumnae associations have celebrated the 50th reunion classes during a dinner that includes awards and trips down collegiate memory lane.

After general milling in the Audubon Tea Room, the formalities commenced with Lori A. Hurvitz, associate vice president of Alumni Relations, extending welcoming words. Next James R. “Jimmy” Nieset, A&S ‘64, L *67) gave the club’s welcome as its president. For the Lifetime Achievement Award, two recipients stepped forward, Carol Lavin Bernick, NC ’74, CEO of Polished Nickel Capital Management, and Douglas J. Hertz, A&S ’74 and B *76, president and CEO of United Distributors, Inc., as the honored duo of the celebrated year. They were also the 50th reunion chairs. Michael A. “Mike” Fitts, 15th president of Tulane University, presented the awards.

Past Emeritus Club President Dwight LeBlanc Jr., B ’59, L*61, presented the Dan Hurley Emeritus Award to Robert E. Young, A&S, ’56, retired vice president and senior financial consultant with Merrill Lynch New Orleans. In attendance was Mr. Hurley, the 2023 awardee, who extended his congratulations. Family (including three generations for Robert Young) and close friends joined the honorees at their tables.

Emeritus Club President Nieset closed the program following a dinner of salad, beef filet and crab cake, and a delicious dessert. The floral arrangements included Tulane colors of olive green and blue, along with white roses. As the final gesture, Nieset inducted the class of 1974 into the Emeritus Club. Moments later, and after Fitz’s “Roll Wave” exhortation, the classmates assembled for a group picture.

On the class committee, all alums of ’74 (and many with advanced degrees), were Becky Rey Baker, Robin Michaels Giarrusso, Herbert V. Larson Jr., Richard H. Levenstein, Philip E. Masquelette, Mary Plauche McNulty, Julianne Nice, Karen Baumgarten Sher, Leopold Zangwill Sher, Sonny Shields, Carol Squarcy Showley, Debby Heaberlin Smith, Christian A. Steed, Elizabeth Marsal Stout, Marly L. Sweeney, Timmy J. Terrebonne, Janice Killebrew VandenBrink, and Pege Sternberger Vaughan.

Happy tidings prevailed within the festive framework that added a musical combo for further noteworthiness. Appropriately, “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was among their spirited songs.

Palate Pleasures

The graze of wine and "noses" was pleasingly apparent at Brennan’s when the NOWFE held its Kick-Off Celebration. Hosted by the Royal Street restaurant and Folio Fine Wines, the late afternoon schmoozing for the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience began with a Champagne reception in the courtyard. There Braithe Tidwell showed the crowd how to saber Champagne: the bottle is held at a 45-degree angle and the blade (preferably that of a saber) guides along the seam to line up the strike of the bottle and open it. Wow! It is said that the “art of sabrage is far from a humble or subtle act.” Making a statement, several of the NOWFE attendees were inducted into the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or as sabreurs.

Additional features were the interactive Folio Fine Wines Champagne tasting and Brennan’s multiple taste treats, which included oysters, pimento cheese arancini, steak tartare, housemade boudin and smoked fish beignets, to mention a favorite few that delighted NOWFE executive director Aimee Brown, board members Michael Morgan and Sue Ceravolo, Elwood Cahill Jr., Bobby Dandry and Allison Shapiro Dandry, and Margarita Bergen.