SAN DIEGO — The 780 guests at Friday's Women of Dedication fashion luncheon looked decidedly surprised when they were asked to turn the other cheek, but all responded with a delighted alacrity that left the room ringing with laughter.
Most luncheons open with a brief address by the chairman or with some other minor formality, but this one was different. After offering the invocation, Lt. Col. John Gowans, the Salvation Army director of women's services in Southern California, asked each guest to kiss the person seated to the right and to the left. The gesture was intended primarily as an affectionate salute to Valentine's Day but, as an ice-breaker, it proved as effective as fireworks.
Given by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary of the Door of Hope, the 21st anniversary Women of Dedication luncheon drew a record turnout to the Hotel Inter-Continental Pavilion Ballroom. As always, the honorees--a cotillion of 14 community volunteers, activists, doers, movers and shakers--proved the main draw, their appeal bolstered by such added diversions as the presentation, by Saks Fifth Avenue, of Adolfo's entire spring collection.
The committee that wrote the invitations obviously did its job well, as the luncheon sold out. But they deserve criticism for failing to include a caveat warning prospective attendees that they might need industrial-strength sunglasses. San Diego women enjoy dressing to suit a particular theme, and since the event coincided with Valentine's Day, all wore red. Not just any red, though, and not just as an accent: They were clad in deep, bright, vivid and tropical shades from the tips of their pumps to the feathers atop their tiny pillbox hats. The rubicund effect of all these women swirling around the room in crimson, vermilion, flame, scarlet, carmine and impassioned pink was dazzling, but it was dangerous to watch for too long--rather like staring directly at the sun.
The guest list encompassed a good many previous Women of Dedication, a group who, as luncheon chairman Elsie Weston said, are chosen "for their untiring efforts and for the magnificent example they set for the community." The greater portion of it, however, was accounted for by friends and family members of this year's honorees, each of whom had one or more tables attending in her honor. Thus there were a good many men in audience, a rarity at such affairs. Many charitable and cultural institutions also took tables as gestures of support.
Weston had the entire event videotaped at the request of several other big cities' Salvation Army auxiliaries, who have heard of the success of the Women of Dedication format and would like to try it in their own communities. This is not the first time that San Diego has exported a fund-raising idea; the Mulitple Sclerosis Society's Brunch Society, which sponsors events for single professionals, has been emulated in several cities in the East.
The luncheon of various salads was an appetizer to the main event--the presentation of the Women of Dedication. Each was escorted by one of the men in her life (husband, son, family friend), and each stepped slowly down the runway as master of ceremonies Burl Stiff read a list of her accomplishments.
One of the 14, Lyn Gildred, was forced by her duties to miss the event. A teacher at Frances W. Parker school, she spent the day escorting her students on a field trip that reportedly was two years in the planning.
The other 13 walked down the runway to applause and cheers. They were:
- Judith McDonald, a past president of the Junior League of San Diego. She serves as chairman of a court-appointed integration task force and vice chairman of the Juvenile Justice Commission.
Dorothy Sumner, a past president of the San Diego County Assn. for Retarded Citizens and a trustee of Children's Hospital and Health Center.
Marnie Woodworth, founding president of the Star of India Auxiliary and a member of the Globe Guilders and the San Diego Zoological Society.
Mary Lou Hom, secretary-treasurer of the Chinese Social Service Center, where she works to raise funds for the benefit of new immigrants, senior citizens and non-English-speaking Chinese.
Bee Meyer, a director of Lifeline of North County and a trustee of the Girls Club of Vista.
Suzanne Teasdel, a past president of Country Friends, a founding member of Belles for Mental Health, and a director of the San Dieguito Boys' and Girls' Club.
Joan Henkelmann, who is chairman of the Bonita League of the American Cancer Society and of the South Bay Guild of the San Diego Opera.
Tommi Adelizzi, who this year is serving as president of the Associates of the Trojan League of the University of Southern California, as chairman of the annual MADCAPS show, and as treasurer of the Zoological Society's "Rendezvous in the Zoo."
Lorrie Dunn, who has chaired several events for the benefit of the San Diego Symphony Assn. and is a member of the Country Friends, the Committee of 100 and the Freedoms Foundation.