Shelby's Social Diary
UTHealth salutes Baker and Cooley and gets $1.5 million from Mitchell
When UTHealth president Dr. Larry Kaiser announced a $1.5 million gift from energy mogul George Mitchell at River Oaks Country Club on Tuesday night, it marked the third time in little more than a month that a Houston philanthropist has reached deep into his pockets to make a personal charitable donation.
In April, oilman Oscar Wyatt presented Houston Grand Opera with $1 million in honor of his wife, Lynn Wyatt. Two weeks later, trial lawyer Joe Jamail bestowed $1 million on Rice University's Baker Institute in honor of his friend James Baker III. Mitchell's matching gift was made in memory of his wife Cynthia Woods Mitchell, who died earlier this year from Alzheimer's. His contribution and matching funds will create a research institute at UTHealth focusing on Alzheimer's and related brain disorders.
(UTHealth is the new moniker for the institute formerly known as the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.)
The announcement came during the first annual "Celebration of Transformation and Hope" dinner honoring Dr.Denton Cooley andJames A. Baker III with Transformation and Hope Awards.
Although not envisioned as a fundraiser, the black-tie dinner evening, chaired by Linda McReynolds, proved so successful that $350,000 will now go to scholarships and research at the school. No small feat for an event that was organized in three months, practically an impossibility in the hands of anyone less talented than McReynolds in the charitable fundraising arena.
Of course, the stature of the honorees did not hurt. Long-time friends, the world-renowned heart surgeon and the former U.S. Secretary of State, both native Houstonians, represent the top rung of Houston citizenry, men of extraordinary accomplishment and service. The exemplary guest list of 350 reflected the respect that these men enjoy. Beaming like a school boy over the heady proceedings was UTHealth Development Board chairman Eugene Vaughan, who joined in the program.
As emcee, Channel 13 news anchor Tom Koch noted, "It's great to see so many A-list individuals in one place." It was a stellar gathering of Houston's old guard with a comfortable mix of newer leadership. Joining the honorees at the head table were Kaiser and his wife Lindy Snider, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and wife Tricia, Susan Baker, Louise Cooley and the dinner chair.
Notables filled every table including Anne and Charles Duncan, Clare Glassell, Dr. Jim Willerson, Lynn Wyatt, Margaret Williams, Rose and Harry Cullen, Ann and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Judy and Charles Tate, Pat and Dan Breen, Diana and Bill Hobby, B.A. Bentsen, Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff, Dr. Walter McReynolds and Wendy and David Grimes.
University of Texas regents Janiece Longoria with husband Steve Lasher and Jim Dannenbaum and wife Shirley joined the stellar group that included Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and wife Gwen, Kay and Fred Zeidman, Merritt and Jon Marinelli, Beth Robertson, Linda Finger, Jill and Brad Deutser, Soraya and Scott McClelland, Francoise and Ed Djerejian, Dancie and Jim Ware and so many more that it hurts me to stop here.