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It was an unabashedly romantic evening, from the red roses to the soft candlelight of theWillard Hotel ballroom, and some of Washington's most prominent couples were holdinghands and acting quite sentimental.
The event, organized by Lynda Webster, was a valentine to romance-the evening benefiting theMaster Chorale of Washington. Three long-married sweetheart pairs were honored; John and DebbieDingell (20 years), Rowland and Kay Evans (52 years), and Lloyd and Ann Hand (49 years).
The souvenir programs were a trip down memory lane, with each of the three couples pictured "backthen": Debbie Dingell (she of the striking mane today) had short curly hair, but the same winsomesmile, as she stood with husband John (Democratic Congressman from Michigan) before the Capitoldome. Today, Debbie heads the General Motors Foundation, along with a myriad of other undertakings,both corporate and charitable.
Columnist Rowland Evans, joyously grinning, was pictured exiting the church; on his arm, his newbride Kay, who seemed to float through the doors in the most romantic of bridal gowns. Seated with theEvanses at the dinner were Ray and Jeannette Brophy, Anna Maria Salleo, wife of the Italianambassador, and John and Sandra Day O'Connor, who have been married 48 years. (Logical honoreesnext year?) Justice O'Connor delighted tablemates with tales of her early years, before the SupremeCourt, "growing up on an Arizona ranch as a cowgirl." John, on the other hand, was an urbane SanFranciscan, whose family's imprint has been left on some of the major institutions in the City by theBay.
Seated with the Hands were Paul and Becky Rogers (he the former Congressman from WestPalm Beach,) and Penni and John Alison (Maj. Gen. Alison of the U.S. Air Force has a rare distinction:there is an airport in Gainesville, Florida named for him.)
The Websters are another sweetheart couple. Judge Webster, who was head (sequentially) of boththe FBI and the CIA has been tapped to investigate the organization's security procedures in the wakeof the Robert Hanssen spy probe.
Seen: the Ambassadorial couples of Belgium and Greece; the new Secretary of TransportationNorman Mineta and his wife Patricia, Indiana's Senator Evan Bayh and his wife Susan, TexasCongressman Ken Bentsen and his wife Tamra, and Fred and Marlene Malek.
An interesting juxtaposition: sitting at the table next to FBI Director Louis Freeh were Democraticparty fundraisers Beth and Ron Dozoretz.
The major benefactor of the evening was U.S. Technologies, Inc., whose CEO Greg Earls, alongwith date Kerry Hadigan, took to the dance floor to the music of Odyssey. Jonathan Ledecky chattedup one honcho after another. Ledecky and U.S. Airways contributed airfare and a one -week stay inJackson Hole at Spring Creek Ranch, among the many prizes of the silent auction.
The Master Chorale of Washington, formerly the Paul Hill Chorale, has drawn enthusiastic listenersfor years. Among others appreciating the group's performance were Diane and Mayor AnthonyWilliams, Karon Cullen (who played the piano as the guests gathered), Leezee Porter Nitze, andArturo and Hilda Brillembourg.
The Brillembourgs were also among the guests who thronged to Patty and Fabio Beggiato's trendyrestaurant, Sesto Senso, to benefit the Salvadoran earthquake refugees. As the group gathered, wordspread that the country had had another devastating earthquake a few hours earlier, and both ConsulGeneral of El Salvador Lorena Sol and Mrs. Alexandra de Quintanilla Schmidt, the wife of ElSalvador's Vice President, spoke of the desparate conditions in their country.
The Ambassador of El Salvador to the White House, the Secretary General of the OAS, and the ElSalvadoran Ambassador to the OAS were also in the crowd being entertained by Argentinian DJ JorgeCiocca, with Sesto Senso providing the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.
The evening was co-organized by Mr. And Mrs. Beggiato, the Many Hats Institute, and the ConsulateGeneral of El Salvador. Mario Cader of the Consulate's Cultural Center was complimented ongetting such a big turnout on short notice, but the "locomotivo" that insured success was Fabian Koss,the president and founder of the Many Hats Institute.
His non-profit Institute has aided several other countries in crisis. Originally from Argentina, Fabianis also Director of Youth Liaison for the Inter-American Development Bank. He spoke ofAlejandro Orfila-the diplomat so popular here during his stints as Ambassador of Argentina, andthen Secretary General of the OAS-commenting that Alejandro had first lifted him onto a horse forthe first time, when he was two years old.
Seldom have so many ambassadors, ministers, and sundry diplomats been rounded up together,and seldom have they had so much fun as at a recent dinner at the Washington Club.
The merriment was provided by a rather dry-sounding topic, the duties of the Seargeant of Armsof the Senate; but the speaker was James W. Ziglar, who fills the Sergeant's role. His talent as raconteurmade all the difference.
He covered a surprising variety of happenings while holding this office, including the time a visitinghead of state with a yen for motorcycles met a legislator who owned one - with poor Ziglar's heartin his throat, he watched the motorcycle peel off into the blue, his guest's diplomatic robes a-flying,and he prayed the man would return in one piece and not provoke an international incident.
Ziglar's wife Linda is president of the Washington Club, the large white building at 15 Dupont Circledesigned by Stanford White in 1901. In the National Register of Historic Places, it is listed as ThePatterson House, and it served as the temporary White House for President Coolidge in 1927, hostingCharles Lindbergh as one of the President's guests.
Over 150 people attended the event at the Club, among them a couple of women who had historicgeography in their own lives: Jayne Plank, whose family owned the ground then called GeorgetownHeights, where the National Cathedral now stands. The ancestors of Diane Remsen, with the samename as the historic street in Brooklyn, once owned, as the family farm, large holdings in the boroughsof Brooklyn and Queens.
Most of the 30 diplomats present were rounded up by Washington World Group's Ed von Kloberg,publicist and lobbyist. They ranged from the Ambassador of the Congo to former AmbassadorHolly Coors. Spunky and outspoken Holly Coors' special interests are the countries of El Salvador,Honduras, and Guatemala, and she had just returned from a trip to lead the organization shefounded there, Women of Our Hemisphere.
Ziglar commented that many think his is only a ceremonial position, that the Senate SAA has only toappear at the President's side on television at State of the Union evenings, and inaugurations, but thereis more...lots more. That's only part of his role in being chief protocol officer of the Senate; he is alsothe Senate's chief operating officer, overseeing the budget and expenditures, and as the chief lawenforcement officer, he is responsible for the security of the Senate. It is a wonder he keeps his sense ofhumor.
One anecdote he told involved a Clinton visit to Capitol Hill. As they walked in together, PresidentClinton, knowing it would be a long ceremony, asked if there was a nearby men's room.
"Why sure," said Ziglar, "I have the key to Trent Lott's restroom right here" and handed it over.
Only after Clinton had gone inside did Ziglar remember an unfortunate small detail. He had utterlyforgotten that the walls of Senate Majority Leader Lott's very Republican restroom were papered withClinton cartoons, very, very unfavorable cartoons.
When the then-President emerged, Jim started to stammer an apology. Clinton interrupted, saying, "Ilooked at all of them, but my collection has far tougher cartoons. Tell Trent I'll send him better ones."
And Clinton did.
During the gathering's question period a few minutes later, Ziglar was asked the special qualifications he hadneeded to get the job of Sergeant at Arms. Without missing a beat, he answered, "I grew up with Trent Lott."
"I wondered just how you got that key to the restroom," the irrepressible Holly Coors called out."Now we know."
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