Loose and rested from the long summer, Austinites hit the second week of the social season with the readiness of well-trained marathoners.
It was a night for surprises.
First, Brass House co-owner Jason White leaped up onstage at the Sheraton Austin after an especially long live auction. Bearded and intense, the Afghanistan War veteran spoke movingly of his experiences with the seriously ill through the auspices of Care Communities. Unexpectedly, he extended the pledge period at the Byron E. Cox Awards dinner with his rousing pitches.
Then developer and civic leader — and sometime neighbor — Kerry Tate gave one of the best introductions ever, telling the guests about what kind of CEO, leader and philanthropist Earl Maxwell is not. St. David’s Foundation’s Maxwell followed with a short speech that exemplified his famed humility and good humor.
Photographer Lynne Dobson, formerly of the American-Statesman, accepted her award with generous particulars and images. The last winner was Roger Temme, often called the public face of Care Communities, which provides teams of volunteers for cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. I didn’t know he had been a Catholic priest for 25 years!
Really gotta pay more attention …
Wedding at the Clay Pit
The officiant kept a straight face.
“Not long ago, Richard and Patrice could not have wed,” he said. “Because Richard is black and Patrice is white.”
Pause. Laughter and clapping. Clever to connect the prohibitions against interracial coupling from not so long ago with ongoing opposition to gay marriage.
Everything about the ceremony binding Austin’s Richard Williams and Patrice Carrara pleased the senses: the modern Indian setting at the Clay Pit; the ritual procession, flowers and vows; and the blending of family and friends from France, San Antonio and Austin.
An ingenious Austin event planner, Williams took the day off to let a friend direct the activities, which stretched over the weekend and into the Hill Country.
Coach Darrell K Royal died in 2012, but grown men and women will set aside other pressing concerns to pause and honor the late Longhorns leader. They are especially generous to the DKR Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Coach’s widow, Edith Royal, was the steadfast calm at the center of the social storm during the fund’s Links and Lyrics benefit at ACL Live.
Whirling around her were Stratus Properties’ Beau Armstrong and Val Armstrong, Patron’s John Paul DeJoria and Eloise DeJoria, KLBJ’s Ed Clements and Betsy Clements, KOKE FM’s Bob Cole and Linda Cole, the Society Diaries’ Lance Avery Morgan and Rob Giardinelli.
The musical attraction for the night? Vince Gill, who recently played a stripped-down concert at the Austin Music Hall for the Austin Smiles charity. Sweet, sweet man.
Communities in Schools
Matt Curtis had recently watched “The Wire.” One sequence from the HBO series (2002-2008) about urban dysfunction was set in Baltimore’s schools.
“That’s what our schools would look like,” Curtis said, “if not for groups like Communities in Schools.”
Indeed, the nonprofit’s numbers are impressive: 99 percent of the students that they engage with stay in school, 96 percent graduate and 86 percent meet their behavioral goals.
Curtis was among several hundred guests — including Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and new University of Texas ambassador Vince Young — mingling around high tables at ACL Live, where the charity staged its Food for Thought fundraiser.
Before the main event, folks nibbled culinary samples on the venue’s deck, thus the implied double meaning of the event’s moniker.
Heal in Comfort Benefit
I joined a table, cluttered with food, drink and decorations, in the middle of the room, not far from the stage. Several hundred folks had already gathered for the Heal in Comfort benefit, which pays for special apparel for those recovering from breast cancer procedures.
Country crooner Clint Black headlined at the Oasis amusement village, which seemed overwhelmed with visitors, despite the mostly boarded-up shopping arcade perched high above Lake Travis. The real social action, however, took place between the tables inside.
My table host, raconteur Thomas Graham, introduced me to his wife, Tanya Graham, and to other notables nearby. As time passed, we welcomed Lisa Copeland (Fiat of Austin and various causes) and Ashley Kamrath (upcoming Reveille Call) as well as Mary Ann and Andrew Heller (philanthropists).
Graham and I learned a lot about each other. We both praised Heal in Comfort’s indefatigable captain, Sherry Matthews. Networking well spent.