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Lunch honors mothers of graduating seniors


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001

High school graduation is a bittersweet experience for parents (I know, having a senior myself), and those conflicting emotions of pride and loss were expected companions to the annual Shorecrest Parent Association Luncheon.

The event honors mothers of graduating seniors, and they are to be congratulated as much as their children: Enee Abelman, Cathy Collins, Peggy Dlugozima, Darcy Giroud, Suzanne Gray, Pam Hamilton, Pam Heacox, Meena Jain, Cindy Johnson, Barbara Kyes, Bev Malley, Lynn Newton, Donna Painter, Cathy Prawer, Lane Ritch, Koki Shah, Sue Simmons, Cindy Williams and Sharon Zimring.

Kathy Shroeder, who with Delores Walker headed up the association this year, welcomed the group of several hundred to the Sunset Ballroom. Head of School Mary Booker, chatting with lower school principal Penny Jennings, shared a laugh about the last frenzied weeks of school that we all know about. (Note to teachers: Good luck.)

In the crowd were Sue Wendkos, Robin Higgins, Sharon MaHarry, Leyla Tremaine, Leah Adams, Allison Bearnath, Kimberly Lovato, Holly Magnan, Terry Cobb, Linda Hirsch, Joan Putrino and Beth Manning.

Elaine Rice and Glenn Mosby presented the Janot Root Award to two outstanding volunteers, Barbara Sansone and Cathy Craig, while the real Janet Root, in whose honor the award was created, looked on.

And more than a few got teary-eyed when a group of talented young men sang an a cappella tribute to moms. The group is called Prymary Colorz (okay, they didn't learn to spell it at Shorecrest) and one of its members is Mark Gonzalez, brother of Donna Tyler, who organized the event. It was a nice way to say goodbye to the school year and a phase in life.

* * *

Saturday night saw two big fundraisers transpire just blocks from each other: the Abilities Wine Tasting at Tropicana Field, which I will tell you about in my next column, and the American Heart Association Gala.

More than 400 patrons turned out for Adventures of the Heart at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, most of them upper Pinellas County folks. Among the local contingent were party chairman Gordon Johnson of Bank of America, Dr. Norval Marr and Ardith Rutland, Dr. Royce Hobby and Priscilla Young, Toni Fudge and Fred Davy, Bill and Jean Heller, Darryl and Melissa LeClair, Bert Smith, Paul and Susan Mellini, Cozee Smith, and Bud Rutland and Dr. Joan Christie. Top this graduation story: Rutland rode his bike from St. Petersburg to St. Augustine and back for daughter Melissa's graduation from Flagler College, "to prove to myself I could do it," he said.

His mother, Ardith, used the more traditional means of transportation, traveling by car, which allowed him to stow his luggage with her.

The Vinoy's ballroom was bedecked in orchids for the party, and the hors d'oeuvres were substantial enough to be dinner even though they weren't.

And when was the last time you used finger bowls?

They were waiting at place settings when guests sat down for dinner and were actually soup bowls pressed into alternative service, which caused some confusion. (Yes, you were seen dipping a spoon into it before you figured out the routine.) But this was a nice touch that allowed people to cleanse their hands of the jumbo shrimp that were so popular before dinner.

* * *

After writing recently about losing and finding our dog George, I have received many cards, calls and e-mails. Thanks for your kind wishes and the funny and touching stories you shared about your own pets.

There is an addendum to the George story with a cautionary note. The night George came home, he and I were out for a walk at about 9:30 p.m. Two blocks away, two big dogs lumbered toward us. I had never seen them in the neighborhood. We followed them around the block, hoping to see an owner.

This is karma, I thought. I am being asked to help another family find their missing pets. I didn't know what breed they were but they seemed friendly, even though the larger of the two growled a lot at George. A neighbor helped me get them to our back yard, where I put out food and water. My daughter and I put our faces into their faces getting their tag numbers.

"They're so sweet," she said.

Once they were left alone, they let go with a duet of caterwauling that set every other dog within hearing distance off, including George. After two hours, I fell asleep.

At about 2:30 a.m. I woke and checked on them. No dogs. In the distance, over the four-foot wall that separates my house from my neighbor's I saw the dark forms moving around. One of the neighbors is recovering from heart surgery, so I thought the last thing they needed was the presence of two strange dogs in their back yard when they awoke. The dogs would not come back over the wall. I walked out and opened the gate to release them.

The bigger dog came out, got in a lunge position, growling and snarling. I was scared. I stood very still, arms at my side, looking down. Nice dog, I whispered. Good dog. Karma or not, I didn't try to get them back when they began to wander off.

At 9 a.m. I called Animal Services with the tag numbers (expired, by the way) and got the owner's name. They were two pit bulls, I was told. I gulped. I know most pit bulls are gentle, loving dogs, but I also know a pack of two or more can be dangerous. I called the owner; his dogs had found their way back home -- about five miles away in Shore Acres -- and he thanked me.

I had no business allowing my daughter to stick her face into that of a strange dog and I was stupid to go out by myself to retrieve them. Be careful when you take on a lost animal.

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