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On the Town

PARC party attendees hear some good news

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003

Edythe Ibold, whose daughter Midge was born with Down's syndrome in 1948, was the first president and charter member of the Pinellas Association for Retarded Children, organized in 1953.

The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary in ceremonies presented by the Margaret E. Dickins Foundation Thursday night at the Hilton St. Petersburg.

Michael J. Friedlander, a neurobiologist and director of the Civitan International Research Center, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, had heartening news from the scientific front: Recent discoveries indicate that "the human brain is capable of repair and regeneration throughout life." That is a remarkable revelation for those with developmental disabilities.

Other dinner speakers were Curt Thomas, PARC's president and chief executive officer; Patrick Kieffaber, purchasing and distribution manager for BIC Graphic USA; Mary L. Brown, PARC and Pinellas County School boards; Bert Muller, PARC president emeritus; Carol Holland, former board chairwoman and longtime volunteer; and Marty Medley, board chairwoman.

Dick Crippen, a board member and executive director of community development for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Rays of Hope Foundation, was emcee.

Among those attending were Peggy Thomas, Barb Thomas, Chris Wikenczy, Candy Scherer, Skipp and Joyce Fraser, Mary Mahoney, Noel Sams, Elliott Rakofsky, Jim Carnahan, Kim Cobham. Ed and Betty Shamas were hosts to her parents, John and Dot Gravenstein; it was Mrs. Gravenstein's birthday.

The yearly celebrity fashion show produced by Georgette's of Old Hyde Park in Tampa is a high-energy treat that attracts a roomful of patrons to the Renaissance Vinoy.

Regrettably, I had to miss Wednesday's orchestration, the 17th annual benefit presented by the Mid-Pinellas County Auxiliary of the Children's Home and AmSouth Bank.

Karol Bullard, co-chairwoman with Debbie Hedges, provided details of the action, which nearly always keeps boutique owner Georgette Diaz up all night and drew about 400 guests.

Bay area personalities strode the runway to music from Chicago and Moulin Rouge.

They included Linda Lynch, whose husband is Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety John Lynch; Kelly Ring, WTVT-Ch. 13; Jen Holloway, Bay News 9; Debra Schrils, WFLA-Ch. 8; Margaret Word Burnside, Tampa Bay Magazine; Charleene Closshey , Miss Tampa; Dick Crippen, executive director, Rays of Hope Foundation; Wayne Shattuck and Jay Crawford, WFTS-Ch. 28; Mark Larsen, WWBA-AM 1040; and Jack Harris, Bay News 9 and WFLA-AM 970.

Men's clothing was from Surrey's Menswear, and Jackie Loto choreographed the production.

Patron sponsors included Toni Walsh, Joann Barger, Sandra Young, Edie Spies, Helen Davis, Connie Whitehead, Mary James, Linda Eisenhart, and Wilma McCarthy.

Fashion show committee members included Hope Dogali, Hilde Hulen, Onnie Hastings, Sue Purvis, Becky Derry and Claudia Barber.

Dot McCarthy joined the Tampa Bay Hepatitis and Liver Disease Support Group in 1995, soon after her daughter Debbie Barnes was diagnosed with hepatitis C, which she contracted through a blood transfusion after her appendix burst in 1977.

Ms. Barnes, who recently moved to Parrish from Kenneth City, received a liver transplant iin 2001.

On April 6, Mrs. McCarthy assembled several teams for a benefit at Sunrise Lanes on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street in St. Petersburg.

Husband Avery cheered on her regular Wednesday Coffee League, which meets at Ten Pin Lanes in South Pasadena and includes Marion Gill, Peggy Pope and Kathy Hillhouse.

Other teams represented St. Pete Beach and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, plus a group that started as the Alley Queens and quickly became the Gutter Queens, despite the efforts of veteran bowlers Diane Winning and Carol Ann Rhodes. The relative novices, Candy Scherer, Cindy Weatherby, Joann Barger and Mary Shuh, got moral support from Ann Foster and Edie Spies.

A dear friend calls those who live in the tall condominiums in downtown St. Petersburg cliff dwellers.

Jim and Greta Myers joined their ranks last November, moving to the Florencia from St. Pete Beach. He was a city commissioner in St. Pete Beach, and she volunteers with so many St. Petersburg groups that, she says, her car practically drove itself to and from the beach.

"I can't find a place to park downtown anymore," she told her husband, and that was that.

It's their 19th move in 50 years of marriage.

"We like change," Mrs. Myers said. "We think (St. Petersburg) is the most charming, wonderful town we ever saw. We love all of the bustle and excitement."

Gradually, the Myerses have been inviting groups of friends to tour their apartment.

A gathering the afternoon of April 6 included Terry and Irv Ray, Fay Baynard, Sister Karen Burns, the Rev. Luke Robertson, Dr. Royce and Priscilla Hobby, Jim and Rosemary Johnson, Ann and Dr. Frank Massari, Edie Spies and John Murphy, Sally Poynter, Mary and Fred Shuh, Carol Phelps, John Schloder, Harley and Maritza Smith, Carol Upham, Starr and Dr. Rudy Weihe, Charley and Clair Williams, Betty and Carl Bowley, David Connelly, Jennifer Hardin and Emmanuel Roux and Mary Perry.

The ninth annual Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services Celebrity Celebration, held at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort on April 5, honored Andrea Graham and Geoff Simon of Tampa, Ellen and Myron Mensh of Largo, and longtime Palm Harbor residents Cheryl and Al Liebowitz for their philanthropy and volunteer leadership in the community.

The Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, which serves Tampa Bay residents who are Holocaust survivors and victims of atrocities in their homelands, and the Tampa Bay AIDS Network which serves those who have HIV and AIDS, were focuses of the event. Both are divisions of Gulf Coast Jewish Services.

Entertainers for the evening were Daniel Rodriguez, the New York City police officer who became known as "America's Tenor" after Sept. 11, 2001, and comedian Dr. Neil Shulman, who wrote the novel What? Dead ... Again? on which the movie Doc Hollywood was based.

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

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