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Fashion steps out to help others

By MARY EVERTZ, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 22, 2002

Forty years ago, Marie St. John began creating Chanel-like designs with a knitting loom in a garage. Her husband-to-be, Robert Gray, started selling them. He showed several of the creations to a buyer, who placed a large order.

The St. John label was launched.

By 1969 the company had sales of $1-million, and by 2000 it reported sales of more than $336-million. Marie St. John Gray is the company's chief designer, and her husband is CEO. Their daughter, Kelly, is the company's signature model and co-president.

And Tampa Bay women are among those who add to the success of the St. John label.

The St. John creator will be in Tampa today for the Saks Fifth Avenue St. John 2002 show to benefit the LampLighters of Metropolitan Ministries at the Hyatt Regency Westshore.

"We have multitudes coming," reported co-chairwoman Elaine Newman as she was dashing recently to a meeting at the Tampa Yacht Club. "We have a full house . . . we're to capacity somewhere over 600."

Count on co-chairwoman Marsha Martin and others to wear one of the St. John knits to the fashion show/luncheon. Martin says they are her "favorites because they fit so well and can go from dawn to dusk and never wrinkle."

Today's event is expected to raise more than $50,000.

A basketball honor

The College of William and Mary has bestowed an honor on one of its most outstanding women graduates, Lynn Norenberg Barry.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Barry was considered the premier female basketball player in the history of the Williamsburg, Va., college. She played from 1978 to 1981, and holds 11 school records. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1981.

"Believe it or not, we are over 300 years old and still celebrating a first at William and Mary," said Barbara Blosser, the school's associate athletic director.

Barry, who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the first female basketball player to have her number retired by William and Mary. In July, she also was honored by being named to Verizon's Academic All-America Hall of Fame.

As assistant executive director of USA basketball from 1985-1996, Barry organized women's basketball teams for participation in the Olympics, World Championships and Pan Am Games. Following the 1996 Olympics, she left USA basketball to become an adviser to the Women's National Basketball Association.

Last Saturday the college honored her at a dinner and recognized her at halftime during a men's basketball game, then again on Sunday during a women's basketball game.

Attending the ceremonies were her husband, Rick, an NBA Hall of Famer, and their son, Canyon, as well as her parents, Dr. Dick and Arlene Norenberg of St. Petersburg.

Flower power

Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who was in the Tampa Bay area Tuesday briefing Tiger Bay club members in St. Petersburg on the war against terrorism and the state of the economy, recently intended to give a gift of roses to first lady Laura Bush.

Graham showed up at the White House last week with the $70 bouquet of red roses and a flowery note. The flowers were to have been a thank-you for President Bush's decision to defer duties on imports from our Andean neighbors.

The Secret Service confiscated the roses from the chief of the Intelligence committee, telling him the flowers would be sent to the usher's office for later delivery.

When Graham learned the president had not yet rescinded the tariff, he removed the note before leaving. But the flowers stayed at the White House.

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