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A Tribute to United Way's McNamara

May 31, 1987|MARY LOU LOPER | Times Staff Writer

Francis X. McNamara Jr., the president of United Way, was honored Tuesday evening at the Bonaventure at a dinner attended by 1,200.

It was the sort of evening in which the Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger M. Mahony, sat next to the mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, and shared laughter over the jokes of comedian Red Buttons.

And it was the sort of evening in which dinner chairman Walter B. Gerken, the insurance tycoon, to the amazement of many, took the microphone to declare the welcome, and immediately staged a two-minute-or-so tap-dance routine to Manny Harmon's Orchestra beat, launching a night of appreciations meant to pay tribute to McNamara, who retires in July.

Bradley called McNamara "a catalyst, a bridge builder, a healer." William Aramony, president of United Way of America, came from Alexandria, Va., to pay tribute to his longtime colleague, later hosting 80 at a post-party in his hotel suite. Dickinson C. Ross, a former United Way chairman, introduced the McNamara family--Frank's wife, Barbara; his daughter, Cathy, and son, Chip, and their spouses.

'Enormous Dedication'

United Way chairman William F. Kieschnick noted McNamara's "enormous dedication and a life of great distinction" and introduced the video produced for the occasion with dozens of McNamara's friends casting plaudits: Ernest Loebbecke noting, "Frank . . . is the best thing that ever happened to this community." Cyril Nigg: "He showed us how to campaign, how to set a goal and how to reach it." Victor Carter: "You've changed United Way into a forward-looking entity that anticipated social change."

Grace Riley of the Westminster Neighborhood Assn. was chosen to represent the United Way's 350 agencies on the tape. Roy A. Anderson, another former United Way chairman, noted: "You made the most anyone could make of our United Way." And the tape ended with a children's chorus singing an original song, "You Were There," bringing quite a few tears with "Because you cared . . . the world we know is better."

United Way's industrious David E. Anderson, president of General Telephone Co. and chairman of the current effort to raise $90 million ($5.4 million more than was raised last year; currently, the fund is at about $81 million), was among the throng with his wife, Marilyn. Also present were Dina Beaumont of the Communications Workers of America, the H. Fred Christies, the Richard M. Ferrys, the Donn B. Millers, Norman Barker Jr. (who gave McNamara a big hug), the James F. Dickasons, the Joseph J. Pinolas, Adele Berwanger, William and Marilyn Schulte, Robert and Betty Strub, James Ludlam, Daniel Villanueva, Otis and Bettina Chandler, Fred Schnell with Ruth LeSage, Richard S. Kline and the Robert Pearsons.

When McNamara finally reached the stage, he noted it was an emotional evening, a great crowd--"and no pledge cards!" He also reflected on his 20 years with United Way in Los Angeles: "Very few have had the opportunity to do what they want to do. . . . Much more remains to be done, but it will be done. My heart and soul will remain right here."

Part of him, however, will be working for the Catholic Archdiocese. The cardinal revealed that McNamara has been invited to aid the church in community organization with the purpose of involving more people in the Catholic church.

ALMOST 100: Judging by the happy crowd of several hundred in the garden at Louise and Thomas Jones' home in San Marino, Five Acres is not lacking friends. Nevertheless, the centennial for the agency occurs in 1988, and its advocates were hosting a friend-raiser as a Centennial Preview last week.

Honorary chairman Merlin Olsen kindled interest in the residential treatment center for abused and neglected children. Five Acres president William H. Nolan did the same, and saluted William E. Leonhard, chairman and CEO of Parsons Corp., and a big donor to the cause.

Originally called the Boys and Girls Aid Society of Los Angeles, Five Acres' name evolved from the five acres of orange groves located in Altadena and purchased in the early 1920s by a farsighted board member. The late Myron Hunt designed the home. Longtime devotees, including Dr. Sidney Lasell, Leo Buscaglia (board president in the '60s), Joel Sheldon III (whose father served on the board), San Marino Mayor Rosemary Simmons and Pasadena Mayor John Crowley, attended. Superior Court Judge David A. Thomas represented the William M. Keck Foundation in the announcement of the Keck lead gift of $250,000 in the Centennial $3-million REACH campaign. Past presidents Courtney Marculescu and Homer L. White reminisced. Others chatting about the Along Came Mary hors d'oeuvres tables were Jack Biggar, the Ross Blakelys, the George Brandows, the Grant Buchanans, the Wayne Knights, William Lochmoeller, the Adam Bennions, Christine and Richard Sisley, the Bill Ukropinas, Billie Youngblood, and William and Janice Youngblood.

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