20-year party for director of Choral Arts

MARYLAND SCENE

Around Town

April 14, 2002|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,Special to the Sun

Surprised? "Blown away" is how Tom Hall describes his reaction to the surprise party that greeted him at the Turf Valley Resort recently -- a party celebrating his 20th year as Baltimore Choral Arts Society's music director.

"I was told I was going to dinner with my mother-in-law to celebrate her 70th birthday," Tom says, "[Her birthday] was happening three days later, so that was perfectly plausible. ... I came in [to Turf Valley's ballroom] and this huge crowd yells, 'Surprise!' I thought, don't they know my mother-in-law isn't with me?"

Tom had been told she was driving there separately.

"Then, I start looking at the crowd and realize I know all these people," Tom continues. "My wife [Sun reporter Linell Smith] had to come up to me and say, 'This is for you."

Daughter Miranda Hall ("A 13-year-old kept a secret for eight months," notes Tom, "that's a feat in itself.") and authors Taylor Branch, Madison Smartt Bell and Dudley Clendenin were just some of the 225 friends, family and Choral Arts folks gathered for the blowout. Tom's best friend, former WJZ Evening Magazine co-host Steve Aveson, took time away from his duties as news anchor at Boston's Fox TV station to emcee the event.

"I stayed blown away for the whole night," says Tom, "I still haven't recovered."

The best present of the night? The $7,000 raised for the Baltimore Choral Arts Society Endowment Fund.

***

When it comes to putting on events, Gloria Mayfield Banks turned into a local version of Wonder Woman last Saturday -- throwing two in one day.

During the day, Gloria organized a motivational event for 6,300 Mary Kay Cosmetics folks at the Baltimore Convention Center -- her first act as the company's new national sales director. That night, Gloria threw a 50th birthday party for her hubby, Banks Contracting president and CEO Kenneth Banks. More than 350 friends came from all over the country to the Marriott Waterfront hoopla.

"He was ecstatic," Gloria says. "There were a ton of friends there from college [Adelphi University] that he hadn't seen in over 25 years."

Among some of Kenneth's local chums in attendance: Harbor Bank chairman Joe Haskins, CareFirst head honcho Bill Jews and 21st Century Group president Adrian Harpool.

***

Then there was the 200th birthday party also held last Saturday night for the nonprofit Pickersgill Retirement Community -- something near and dear to the heart of party co-chair Sally Spilman.

"My [late] father-in-law, John A. Spilman III, lived there, and Pickersgill was really wonderful to him," Sally explains.

The party was quite the family occasion for Sally. Both husband John A. Spilman IV and stepson John A. Spilman V helped fill out the crowd of 200.

"I was thrilled," says Sally. "The party was fun, it raised money -- more than $50,000. It did everything it was supposed to do."

LifeBridge Health

You know your evening is off to a flying start when you're greeted by tinkly bells and big, bouncy, gauze butterflies -- wielded by a group of smiling children. After all, this year's "The Magic of Life" gala was all about raising money for LifeBridge Health's pediatric programs. As the glittering crowd of 1,100 filed into the Towson Center, they also encountered big butterflies projected onto the front stage. And each place setting was marked with a card saying, "Thank you for giving me a better life" -- illustrated and signed by a pediatric patient.

However, the high point of the evening was yet to come, when the party co-chairs -- Susan and Jon Levinson and Harriett and Lowell Glazer -- announced that the gala had raised $1 million.

Dinner, a Natalie Cole concert and dancing capped off the fantastical night.

Among those along for the ride: Ellen Wasserman, Marlene and Jacques Rubin, event honorary co-chairs; Barry Garber, Dr. Jerome Reichmister, Carole Sibel and Michael Dopkin, event committee members; Barry Rosen, LifeBridge Health board chair; Lee Coplan, Dr. Arthur Baitch, Dr. Bruce Berger, Joe Cooper, Darrell Friedman, and Leonard Sachs, board members; Warren A. Green, LifeBridge Health president / CEO; Neil Meltzer, Sinai Hospital president; Robert Fischer, Northwest Hospital Center president; Ronald Rothstein, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital president; Barry Evans, Towson University housing and residence assistant director; Leonard Attman, Future Care chairman; Beverly Epstein, Professional Employment Inc.; Louise Goodman, Michelle Lax, E.J. Rice, Mary Brunk and Adele Sidle, community volunteers; Willard Hackerman, Whiting Turner Contracting Co. president; Estelle Newman, CareerWise president; Larry Rosenthal, Baltimore attorney; Ellen Meltzer, Ruxton Country School educator; Henry T. Bell, MBNA account manager; Melvin Kabik, First Mariner Bank director; Judy Sherman, Papers Plus co-owner; Lewis Penn, Mile One Corp. vice president; Dr. Irv Raffel, Dental One Associates president; Jack Pechter, Tristar Management chairman; and Beverly Rashbaum, retired charity fund-raiser.

-- Sloane Brown

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