Just how often are gala evening invitations issued without a pricey tariff attached? Almost never in this city where non-profits run on philanthropy and social clout.
Well, mark one up for The Methodist Hospital System that hosted close to 1,000 physicians, benefactors and patients to a splendid soirée at the Hilton Americas-Houston. Seemingly no expense spared and no cover charge required.
Guests are still raving about the "Celebrating Excellence" dinner evening that featured performances by members of Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera in a nod to the Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine. CBS Sports anchor Jim Nantz, whose father was treated at Methodist for Alzheimer's and who just launched the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at the hospital, served as emcee. There was a host of patient testimonials as well as video and speeches and a closing performance by the Windsor Village United Methodist Church choir.
Of course, there are no truly free meals. The evening, co-chaired by Emily and Holcombe Crosswell, Judy and Ron Girotto, Lynda and David Underwood and Kay and Judge Ewing Werlein, served as the public launch of the hospital's first fundraising campaign. More than $175 million has already been raised toward the $200 million goal. Open checkbooks now.
The program highlighted Methodist's record in patient care, research and medical education and celebrated its renowned physicians and generous benefactors.
Among guests were Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and wife Laurie, both of whom enjoyed a special shout-out from Nantz.
Methodist fans on hand included Rolane and Morrie Abramson, Ginger and Jack Blanton Sr., Anne and Charles Duncan, Nanette and Jerry Finger, Elaine and Marvy Finger, Ann Trammell and Doris Hervey. Special guest was Nantz' fiance Courtney Richards.
What would a fancy-dress ball be without a pre-party to thank those who ponied up the big bucks to guarantee the evening's success? Houston Ballet Ball honorees Rose and Harry Cullen were so delighted with the honor that they offered their lavish River Oaks home as setting for the ballet ball underwriter cocktail buffet.
With Jackson & Co. staff swirling through the expansive home, the Cullens and ball chairs Jo and Jim Furr stood in the expansive foyer to welcome a well-heeled coterie of ballet patrons, ball underwriters and dancers. Leading the list of ballet luminaries were managing director C.C. Conner, artistic director Stanton Welch and Patsy Chapman, director of individual giving and special events.
With the willowy dancers mingling in the crowd, one was loathe to indulge too much in the beautiful buffet that featured smoked salmon, baby lamb chops and loads more.
Mingling through the Cullen home were Tony and Isaac Arnold, Linda McReynolds, Sue and Lester Smith, Laura Bellows, Phoebe Tudor, Becca Cason Thrash, Anne and Don Graubart, Cabrina and Steve Owsley, Ginni Mithoff and Leticia Loya.
Inauguration sight 'ems
Among the Lear jet loads of well-heeled Houstonians traveling to Austin this week for the swearing-in ceremonies and surrounding festivities were Mindy and Jeff Hildebrand, finance co-chair of the Inauguration Committee, plus Mica Mosbacher, Amy and Jim Lee, Debbie and Shawn Hurwitz, Robin and John Wombwell and Kay and Ned Holmes.
On their dance cards was everything from the Governor's Prayer Service where Second Baptist's Ed Young welcomed the crowd, to "A Candlelight Evening" at the Texas State History Museum, to the governor's swearing-in on the steps of the State Capitol.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst celebrated his swearing-in with a political schmooze at Max's Underground where he was joined by his wife, Tricia, and their young daughter Carolyn Hamilton and Tricia's parents, Carolyn and Dr. Carlos Hamilton.
In the mix of Texas senate leadership and others from the state legislative landscape were State Sen. John Whitmire, Dr. Natasha Holley and Ron Holley, Jeremy Logan of Max's Houston management team, Shannon and Dr. Kyle Janek, publicist Tammy Dowe and artist Hanh Tran, who had a special interest in the event.
Tran's 50-piece Big Texas collection was on display and she had a ball giving tours of her artwork.
Super Bowl tripping
The Green Bay Packers might or might not be appearing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6, but Packers fan and rail car enthusiast Patrick Henry and a host of clients of his Patrick Henry Creative Promotions will be rolling on the rails toward the action.
He's calling it the ultimate tailgating experience as Henry and his troops entertain special friends aboard a three-car luxury train that moves from Houston to San Antonio and Austin before landing in Fort Worth. It will be party, party all the way with all the luxuries of home — a personal steward, executive chef and sleeping accommodations.
Henry has arranged for his lucky guests to attend events at Whiskey & Rye, inside the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, and Sherlock's Baker Street Pub & Grill, located across from the Cowboys Stadium. Add to the package of fun tickets to the 20th annual Taste of the NFL "Party With a Purpose" with headliner Martina McBride.
Best Dressed honoree Nidhika Mehta and husband Pershant celebrating her honor over a late dinner at RDG with close friends Aku and Dr. Winne Bedi, Mehrnaz Gill, Pinder and Jag Gill, Rosemarie and Matt Johnson, Yasmin Haddad and Jaleh and Bruce Sallee . . .
There were plenty more in the rocking crowd including Best Dressed honoree Elizabeth Petersen and hubby Gary, John and Becca Cason Thrash, Neal Hamil, Nick Florescu, Joyce Echols and Melissa and Michael Mithoff . . .
Diane Lokey Farb, dazzling in Chanel, dining at Eddie V's West Ave with Patsy and Greg Fourticq and Karen and Mike Mayell . . .
Cynthia and Bucky Allshouse sampling Tony's new menu at a table in the bar where we also spotted Danielle and John Ellis at table for two in front of the fireplace.