Shelby About Town
A birthday at Luby's, $1 million for teachers and a private dinner with Obamafill the social scene
The parking lot of the Luby's on Waugh Drive has never looked more like the asphalt at River Oaks Country Club than it did on Tuesday when a flock of social swans landed for a most unusual birthday celebration. Surely, there have never before been so many recent-model European cars in that block.
It was a milestone for the colorful Franci Crane. Her party hosts — Mark Wawro, Andrea White, Carrin Patman, Nancy Kinder, Sis Johnson, Kenny Marks— had hoped to surprise her by holding the fete at such an unexpected locale and in the early afternoon.
But no putting one over on the wiley Franci. She arrived in full granny drag — robe, slippers and head scarf and walking with a cane.
More than 100 of her philanthropic pals turned out to celebrate and have lunch at Luby's. It was a sight not soon to be forgotten — the Ladies Who Lunch, cultural arts leaders and designer-clad friends lunching at the cafeteria best known for its Lu Ann Platter. Among those sitting down to their choice of the cafeteria's downhome offerings were Lynn Wyatt, Celina Hellmund, Cynthia Petrello, Sima Ladjevardian, Phyllis Childress and Joanne King Herring.
In a light-hearted program led by Wawro, Franci was honored with a mayoral proclamation declaring July 16 (her actual birthday) as "Franci Crane Day" in Houston. (Franci spends her summers in Nantucket and won't be here to celebrate.) Franci was presented a commemorative poster from Houston Grand Opera and her contributions to arts organizations across the city were celebrated in a poem presented by Inprint Inc. honcho Rich Levy.
Joining in the salute were Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Peter Marzio and Houston Grand Opera general director and CEO Anthony Freud.
While Luby's fare received surprisingly high ratings from these sophisticated palates, it was the Louis Vuitton cake (a dead ringer for mini suitcases) from Who Made the Cake that stole the culinary show. Red velvet cake in the upper "satchel" and to-die-for chocolate in the lower valise. Savoring it all were Sharon Adams, Anny Whyte, Karen and Harry Pinson, Beverly Pastorini and Sheridan Williams.
Texans were on the scene in the nation's capital earlier this week when some 30 Lone Star residents took on the town. Among those chewing the fat with Vice President Joe Biden at a reception and Texas-style barbecue hosted by the VP were local power broker Marty McVey and wife Parvin, former Texas governor Mark White, Sohail Hassan, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Gene Green, Nick Lampson and Lufti Hassan. That gathering took place at historic Decatur House.
For Marty McVey it was a very special D.C. visit as he was one of a handful of guests who had the opportunity to dine with President Barack Obama in a private home.
Welcome to Houston
It's official. In fact, it's been official all week. Mark Hanson is in the office as executive director and CEO of the Houston Symphony. In this new high-profile post, Hanson finds that his life at the moment is more like that of the prettiest deb at the ball, as everyone is anxious to get to know and become new best friends with the charming, young impressario.
Cultural arts cognoscenti are taking bets that he will be Houston's new David Gockley (HGO's wunderkind who put the opera company on the map when he was only in his 30s).
The transition has been smooth so far, according to Hanson. Only one snafu to date. In moving from Milwaukee, he packed his wife's summer wardrobe deep in the back of their storage unit. No chance of retrieval until the couple and their two young children move from temporary housing into their own home. That could be a while. And that has meant that Christina has been shopping up a storm all week.
Teach for America windfall
The highly-praised organization which recruits top-tier recent college graduates to teach for two years in urban and rural schools has announced a major gift from Nancy and Rich Kinder, Kinder Morgan CEO. The couple has committed $1 million to be distributed over five years to Teach for America .
The gift will enable the non-profit to expand its recruiting, training and development of high-level teachers in schools across the Houston area.
The gift continues a tradition of support that the Kinders began in 2000 with establishment of the Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award, an honor created on honor of Rich Kinder's mother who taught school for many years.
Netherlands ambassador to the United States Renee Jones-Bos and Netherlands honorary consul general Geert Visser welcoming guests to a fete at the InterContinental-Houston where the occasion was a triple-header — a welcome for OTC participants and a celebration of Queen Beatrix's birthday and of Liberation Day. Mixed in the hundreds of Dutch guests, we spotted Karen and Byron Hood, Lily and Charles Foster and Lynn and Phil Aronoff . . .
Kristi Schiller and Sheriff Adrian Garcia lunching at La Griglia . . .
Society for the Performing Arts development director Priscilla Larson, Ginnni Mithoff and Laura Spalding lunching at La Griglia.