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On the town

Art Linkletter funny, serious at YMCA event

By MARY JANE PARK, Times Staff Writer
Published February 29, 2004

Humorist Art Linkletter spoke to a sellout crowd at the YMCA's annual breakfast in 2001. Hundreds of supporters of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg braved Wednesday morning's downpour to attend this year's event at the Coliseum, an encore performance for the 92-year-old entertainer.

His warm wit drew laughter from the audience as he talked about family and career. The longtime host of House Party and People are Funny grew serious, telling his audience that today's children are "victims of a vulgarian society."

At times, his message turned to politics. Linkletter was energetic in his support for the Republican Party and President Bush, comments that seemed inappropriate in the context of an event focused on energizing volunteers for the Y.

I left a voice mail for Doug Linder, the Y's president and chief executive, asking him to comment on Linkletter's partisan remarks. He replied by voice mail: "The YMCA is not a political organization. We don't take political stands, so I'm not going to comment on Mr. Linkletter's comments.

"The only thing I will say, is that of the 600 people there, I've only received praise for the breakfast and for everything that went on. I've not heard any complaints."

Andy Hines, a former president of Florida Power and CEO of Florida Progress Corp., received the Chester James Award for character and ethics.

The event committee, headed by Mary Evertz and Jay Fleece, included Steve Anderson, Chris Bell, Vern Farnsworth, Stephanie Goforth, Jim Henderson and Bill Stover.

Gold sponsors were Henderson and Acordia and Beltz & Ruth. Kirkland, Russ, Murphy & Tapp and Tech Data were silver sponsors.

* * *

The Women's Council of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce will feature former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders at its annual symposium March 19.

Elders was the first African-American woman to serve in that role, during the Clinton administration. Her chief focus was to advocate adequate health care for America's poor.

These days, she teaches public health as a Distinguished Professor at her alma mater, the University of Arkansas, where she attended medical school on the G.I. Bill.

Finalists for the council's Women of Distinction awards are Ellen Crow, founder, Florida Gulf Coast Autism Association; Dr. Marva Denard, owner, Bishop Academy II Christian Schools; Lisa Gladstone, president, Priority One Financial Services; Robin Grabowski, owner, Tranquility Day Spa; Laura Krueger Brock, Cherry, Bekaert & Holland; Janet Mittendorf, owner, Janet Mittendorf Salon & Day Spa; Kathryn Pemble, president, Bank of America in Pinellas County; Sophie Sampson, executive director, Society of St. Vincent de Paul; Debra Shade, president, Neighborly Care Network; Najiyyah Shaheed, owner, Shaheed's African and Islamic Wears; Sylvia Walbolt, board chair, Carlton Fields; Vonda White, president, Collegiate Risk Management; and Bernadette "Bernie" Young, president, Center for Creative Teambuilding.

Community Service Woman of the Year finalists are Connie Beck, Suzanne Boland, Corinne Bulla, Elizabeth Marie Demo, Jeancarol Hart, Luisa Perez Harvey, Beth Houghton, Sharon Jackson, Connie Kone, Elizabeth Lusty and Mary Shuh.

The council's Women's History Month luncheon is at 11 a.m. March 19 at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Tickets, $45, are available by calling 821-4069 or online at

* * *

With jazz from the Eddie Graham group and masks created by adults in PARC's fine arts studio, supporters of the Pinellas Association for Retarded Children celebrated Fat Tuesday at Mardi Gras on the Beach.

About 125 guests sampled the New Orleans-style fare at the Wine Cellar on North Redington Beach.

PARC president Curt Thomas and his wife, Peggy, circulated through the crowd, which included Charles Wright, Tom and MaryAnn Fisher, Kathy McGhee, Linda Klehammer, Ron and Johnnie Guest, Dr. and Mrs. Larry Kingsley, Joe and Dottie Camilleri, Bruce and Gail Wiesemann, Rene Jignac, Thomas Walker and Stacy Beaton.

Table sponsors included Don and Carol Rowland, the League to Aid Retarded Children and the National Foundation for Debt Management. Representing LARC were Ken and Stevie Knaebel, Frank and Diane Cipolla, Lois Cash, Dick Lundgren, Elias and Jenny Hasbun, Denise Linden and Patrick Tracz.

* * *

The Arts Center's Urban Visions group and the Museum of Fine Arts' Contemporaries, both involving 20- and 30-something enthusiasts, co-hosted Hot Glass! at the arts center Feb. 20.

It's an ongoing event in which Texas glass artist Jodi Bove demonstrates glass-blowing techniques. That evening, she made one of her signature fluted vases, using long rods with the molten materials that become glass in her outdoor "hot shop."

Bove dressed that night in a black V-neck tee, black jeans and a black cap. Her work is as much performance as education and requires considerable physical strength.

The evening's participants included Melissa Rutland, Tinsley Will, Laura Shelton, Melissa Christiano and Wally and Andi Fuller.

* * *

Quilters throughout the county met Feb. 21 met at A Creative Embroidery and Quilting Bee in St. Petersburg and Quilt Stop in Largo to make blankets for Project Linus.

That's a national effort named for the character in the Peanuts comic strip; its goal is to "provide security through blankets" to children who are seriously ill or traumatized.

The St. Petersburg Project Linus chapter made 166 throws for patients at All Children's Hospital. The association's Janet Haley says all of the group's creations are distributed locally.

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

[Last modified February 29, 2004, 01:15:11]

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