Shelby's Socia Diary

Love note from a President, a kiss from the Mayor and lots of praise for Houston Ballet's C.C. Conner

Love note from a President, a kiss from the Mayor and lots of praise for Houston Ballet's C.C. Conner

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Drs. Marc Boom and Julie Boom join Houston Ballet managing director C.C. Conner at a farewell cocktail party. Photo by Shelby Hodge
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One of Conner's many accomplishments was his crucial role in development of Houston Ballet's Center for Dance. Photo by © Nic Lehoux/Gensler
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Conner took Houston Ballet from operating at a deficit to enjoying a $60 million endownment.   Photo by Amitava Sarkar
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Sharon Erskine, left, with Jim and Jo Furr were among well-wishers at the Conner party. Photo by Shelby Hodge
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Diane Lokey Farb, left, and Beth Muecke stepped out for the salute to C.C. Conner. Photo by Shelby Hodge
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It was a grand send-off for Houston Ballet managing director C.C. Conner (who actually isn't going very far) — a letter of praise from President Bush, 41; declaration of "C.C. Conner Day in Houston" presented by Mayor Annise Parker and loads of good wishes from a well-heeled entourage of ballet patrons and ballet managers from across the country.

Conner officially retires Feb. 15, the day of the Ballet Ball, after 17 years during which his stellar achievements have included spearheading the development of the state-of-the-art Center for Dance, building a $60 million endowment and fostering partnerships with other major ballet companies across the country.

In the crowd of more than 100 that gathered Monday night in the River Oaks home of Ginni and Richard Mithoff were a handful of ballet managing directors who had remained in Houston beyond the close of the Dance/USA Conference to attend the cocktail reception. Reps from companies in Boston, Toronto, San Francisco, Australia and more were among those raising their glasses.

In her remarks, Parker acknowledged that she seldom does these presentations herself but that Houston Ballet is one of her favorites and that Conner is a friend. She said that he "has the soul of a poet, the mind of an accountant and the tenacity of a Jack Russell terrier."

Dr. Marc Boom, who earlier this month became CEO of The Methodist Hospital System, and is Conner's personal physician was in the mix with his wife, Dr. Julie Boom. Conner, who had received his Medicare card earlier in the day, quipped that he was delighted that Boom would continue to see a stable of patients even in his new role. 

Former Houston Ballet board president and current trustee Richard McGee ticked off Conner's lengthy list of accomplishments during his 17-year tenure.

"I am not going quietly away," Conner told CultureMap, adding that he will continue at the ballet several days a week, helping with the creation of a planned giving program, a new arm of Houston Ballet's development office.

Stepping in as new managing director is Jim Nelson, a former Houston Ballet dancer who has served as the company's general manager since 2000. He was there in the requisite bow tie (a nod to Conner's penchant for bow ties and suspenders) as was creative director Stanton Welch.

The evening was hosted by Melza and Ted Barr, Anne and Don Graubart, Jay Jones and Ann Trammell.

The heavy-hitter gathering included ballet foundation chairman Joe Hafner, foundation secretary Margaret Williams and executive committee members Phoebe Tudor. The Alley Theatre's Dean Gladden and wife Jane and Society for the Performing Arts CEO June Christensen stepped out in honor of Conner.

Adding to the rich scene were Conner's partner David Groover, Lynn Wyatt, Kathy Hubbard, Terry Wayne Jones, Diane Lokey Farb, Beth Muecke, Patsy Chapman, Greggory and Pat Burk, Karen Hartnett, Jo and Jim Furr, Karen Erskine, Tony and Isaac Arnold and Jean May.