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On the town

Partying along on the bus to UF

By MARY JANE PARK
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2003

The University of Florida's first official event of its 150th anniversary celebration was the dedication of Emerson Alumni Hall on Friday. The building is named for Bill and Jane Emerson of St Petersburg, who gave $3-million toward its construction.

Bill Mills had a brainstorm to charter a bus to Gainesville for the ceremony; Hadley Heindl made the arrangements, and a big group of supportive friends departed early in the morning, among them Mills' wife, Helen, Dr. Jack and Janet MaCris, Katharine Ann Lake, Mary Margaret Winning, Rusty and Audrey Lampe, Dr. Joe Pilkington and Celma Mastry, Charlie Osterholt, Bud and Mary Evertz, Sam and Mary Joan Mann, Bob Burns, Bill Ermatinger, Muggy Allison, Tom and Betty Parsley, Dan and Harriet Harvey, Joe and Eleanor Porter and Ann and Harold Wells.

Someone remembered that Bud Evertz and Ann Wells were celebrating birthdays, and the riders joined in an impromptu chorus of Happy Birthday.

Joining the group in Gainesville were Chester and Carol Skipper, Joe and Joanne Fleece, Ralph and Carol Sue Stevens, Gene and Miriam Williams, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben and Marilyn Overton, Joyce Matthews and Dr. Charles and Nancy Crist.

Among family members attending the dedication were the Emersons' grandchildren Adrienne and Jake Emerson, both students at UF; and Ray Parker, who is married to another granddaughter, the former Shelley Moorefield.

Already, tens of thousands of UF alums have visited Emerson Hall, which opened in August on schedule and on budget. It sits just across University Avenue from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

* * *

About 250 people filled the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Vinoy on Tuesday night to say farewell to Dennis and Ginny Sexton and pay tribute to the retiring top executive at All Children's.

The group included the hospital staff, board members, the Sextons' close friends and family members, among them his mother, Betty Sexton; his sister, Suzanne McKnight, with husband George; their sons and daughters-in-law, Sean and Franallison Sexton and Michael and Sandy Sexton, who brought their children, Sean and Kathryn.

Joel Momberg, director of the All Children's Hospital Foundation, attended with his wife, Debbie, and reported details of the event.

All Children's Health System chairman Malcolm King was master of ceremonies and presented Sexton with a collection of admiring letters, bound in two books. The evening included a videotape earlier shown at the ACH Foundation Society banquet, where Sexton received the prestigious Bill Belcher in appreciation for his 31 years at the hospital. The presentation showed moments from his life and appreciative remarks from employees.

Ed Ameen, who was key in establishing the Ronald McDonald House at All Children's, presented a $50,000 check to the foundation on behalf of the boards of directors of the health system, hospital and foundation. The restricted fund in Sexton's name will be used as he determines.

Attending the tribute were Sexton's successor, Gary Carnes, and his wife, Jean; hospital board chairman Steve Raymund; foundation board chairman Sandy Rief; Sylvia Ameen; Ken and Sandy Banks; Dr. Jerry and Carol Barbosa; John Bryan; Dick and Penny Crippen; Dr. Robert and Joy McCann Daugherty; John Dew; Phyllis King; Sandy Diamond; Bud and Mary Evertz; Joe and Joanne Fleece; Harvey and Kathleen Ford; Dr. Robert Good and Dr. Bibi Day; Bill Heller; Lloyd and Carolyn Horton; Robb Hough; Hazel Hough; Beth Houghton and Scott Wagman; Dr. Jack and Susie Hutto; Carol Lane; Thelma Rothman; Darryl LeClair; Dr. Gary and Rhonda Litman; Mark and Marianne Mahaffey; Don and Iris Mastry; Jeff and Diane McClanathan; Harry and Evelyn Moorefield; Fred Rozzelle; Van and Jane Sayler; Carol Schwartz; Craig Sher; Rusty and Terry Shelton; Bob and Claudia Sokolowski; Dr. Roberto and Ruth Sosa; Gus and Frances Stavros; Bob and Carol Stewart; Chris and Liz Stiles; Bill Stover; Marvin and Ginny Sweat; Joe and Diane Tonelli; Bob Ulrich; Dave Wilbanks; Mary Wyatt Allen; and George Cretekos.

The Sextons hope to take some extensive trips in retirement, the first to Ireland.

-- Mary Jane Park can be reached at (727) 893-8267; fax (727) 893-8675; e-mail park@sptimes.com; P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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