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Adding gilt to Guilder

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002

CHAMPIONING BOB GILDER: Poet Laureate James Tokley began the Bob Gilder celebration in rhyme, with a piece called, "To Bobby G!"

And here's to a man of word and pen

who has lived the life of 50 men!

Convalescing from two heart attacks and a stroke, civil rights activist Gilder, 72, was surrounded by fans Saturday afternoon at his Grace Street home. With an IV administering heart medication, Gilder held court in a motorized wheelchair in the center of the living room. Everyone wanted to talk about their hero: Former U.S. Rep. Sam and Martha Gibbons: "Thank you for your wisdom, courage and determination," Sam said.

Judges Bob and Florence Foster: "One of my best friends, I love you," Bob said.

Former St. Pete City Councilman Dave Welch: "There'll never be another Bob Gilder."

Pam Iorio saluted the man "who probably registered more voters in Hillsborough County than any other single individual."

Ted Nichols of Gainesville: "'Bob's passion is for what was right and fair and just."

John Dingfelder and Lynn Marvin: "Thank you for your legacy of courage," said John, "for standing up to the establishment."

Jesse Hill, founder of the Krewe of Libertalia, made Gilder an honorary member of the multicultural social club. Hill, who worked with him on Super Bowl XXV and Bambeleo parade organizer, was chief chicken, ribs and sausage griller. Bob's wife, Ellie, kept the other fixings coming.

* * *

CHEZ WALLACE: Dinner at Don and Erika Wallace's? There was a stampede to the telephone to RSVP the minute the mail arrived.

Past and current board members and trustees of The Spring of Tampa Bay were invited. So were VIP donors, auxiliary officers and assorted friends of the hosts.

Saturday night, at 7 on the dot, a row of cars awaited Eddie Palladini and the VIP Valet crew. Guests couldn't wait to see the 13,000-square-foot Bayshore Boulevard home of the Lazy Days RV SuperCenter founder.

Explorin' they went. Poking in the billiards room, inventorying two kitchens, eyeing the wall of 400-gallon aquariums, climbing the stairs to the guest suites and playroom. They strolled out to the gym to see 10 weight machines and count cars in two spotless garages. Nothing was off limits to the curious. When they'd seen it all, there were Asian fusion buffets and bouillabaisse from Art of the Feast. Bartenders just kept pouring.

Wow, how can we ever thank you, The Spring executive director Sue Spitz asked the Wallaces?

No need, said the hosts, the new co-chairs of The Spring's annual campaign for Florida's busiest shelter for abused women.

"You know how I feel," said Erika. "The Spring is my third child."

* * *

STOGIES & CRAVATS: A male influence dominated the first Cigar and Tie Celebrity Auction benefit for United Cerebral Palsy. That's not a complaint, by any means. I like that nine out of the 10 committee members were men. Nonita Cuesta Henson, honorary co-chair, was the only women on the team.

Henson's involvement with the UCP board goes back 10 years, when her grandson, J.D., went to preschool there. J.D., 11, attends Grady Elementary now, but his grandmother remains an active board member. J.D.'s dad, Kirk, likes to point out that the agency's name is a misnomer. UCP treats clients with more than 180 different forms of disabilities.

Cigar smoke wafted through the auction parlor at Latam at the Centro. The 2002 Harley-Davidson XLH Sportster 1200, worth nearly $17,000, outdistanced the autographed neckties and rare cigars. Larry Dorsey of Lutz got the shiny bike by buying four $25 raffle tickets.

UCP director Karen Ryals, her brother Les and sister-in-law Barbara added the special Ryals family charm. Flaming chocolate baked Alaska signaled the start of the live auction, run by Bay 107.3 radio personality David K. Jones. One significant item, a rug from Afghanistan belonging to Gen. Tommy Franks, sold for $1,100 to Pat Deramus.

The $80 per ticket benefit was the first for UCP, and the first big project for chief development officer Joyce Weaver who moved to Tampa from Memphis six months ago. She enlisted her husband, Don, a freelance art director to design the nostalgic invitation and auction catalog.

* * *

BLOOMING AND TUNING: Florida Orchestra Guild/Tampa's installation luncheon bloomed at Avila Country Club last week. Past president Liz Tepper planted a garden theme, with a colorful nosegay representing each position. Gayle Bertelstein was the rose; she starts her third term as president. Each board member found the centerpiece that matched the member's flower, a gift for them to take home designed by Diane Murfee.

Juli Milas brought her collection of memorabilia, pictures and news clippings for the 55th anniversary. The guild, originally called the Women's League, formed in 1947 to support the Tampa Philharmonic. Its merger with the St. Petersburg Symphony changed the name to Symphony Guild, and in 1984, to the current name. Rather than attempt to light 55 candles, a parade of baked Alaska sparkled for the occasion.

Save Sept. 21 for the guild's Tune-Up Party to meet new conductor Stefan Sanderling. Bertelstein also is stirring up interest in a Coffee Series in Tampa, tentatively set to start Oct. 25 with lunch and informal modeling at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

* * *

FUN RAISING: Steel drums bonged and bids went out on about 50 items at "Sipping on the Dock of the Bay." FunRaisers for Kids, one of five auxiliaries supporting The Children's Home, hosted the May 17th beer and wine tasting. Sippers and samplers breezed in and out of the A La Carte Event Pavilion Terrace Salon overlooking Tampa Bay.

FunRaiser members Jeff and Karen Hudgins won the key to a Beau Rivage resort weekend.

Event co-chair, Amy Stroker, aptly named seeing that she runs the rowing program as athletics coordinator at Berkeley Preparatory School, rises to chairwoman next year. "Same place, same time of year, only bigger and better," says Stroker.

- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or

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