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Ann Conway

Elegant Affair Raises $35,000 for Cancer Center

September 29, 1987|Ann Conway

John Macnab never got the chance to formally recite the little blurb he'd tucked into his tartan dinner jacket before Saturday night's dinner in his honor.

His friends were so busy praising his kindness and his dedication to the Hoag Foundation, he couldn't get a speech in edgewise.

But that was fine with Macnab, a 76-year-old Scotsman who admitted to being "nervous" about being honored at the elaborate, $1,000 per-couple benefit, which netted $35,000 for the 65,000-square-foot Hoag Cancer Center to be built at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach.

"Normally, I'm never nervous; but tonight, well, I think this quotation explains how I feel," he confided as he reached into his pocket for a saying by Joseph Joubert, the 18th-Century French moralist.

" 'A part of kindness is loving people more than they deserve.' I think these people are being overly kind," he whispered, as guests began streaming into the 13,500-square-foot Corona del Mar mansion of Junie and Dr. Kenneth Chong.

Not too kind, according to Chong, a plastic surgeon, who told 77 guests gathered on his marble-floored ballroom that Macnab was someone he and his wife had come "to know and love very much."

Good friend Ted von Hemert, owner of von Hemert Interiors in Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa, said that Macnab was so caring that he left a lucrative business in the Bahamas in 1954 to come to Southern California to "find the right place to raise his young son, Rick."

And that's where Macnab's story with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and the Hoag Foundation--of which he has been president for the last eight years--began.

Years after moving to Newport Beach and establishing John Macnab Realty Co. (which became Macnab Irvine), he lost his only child to cancer. "When he was 28--young and strong," recalled Macnab during the cocktail reception. "It was an exceedingly rare form of cancer, something that started in his knee, and, by the time it was diagnosed, was too late.

"So, my wife, Jean, and I have been devastated by cancer and have been deeply involved in raising funds for cancer research for many years. As president of the Hoag Foundation, I feel fortunate that I have been able to help direct $6 million from the foundation into the new cancer center."

Hoag hospital has more cancer cases than it can comfortably handle, Macnab said. "And patients have to have certain procedures done one place in the hospital and others done in another. . . . We want to bring all of the services together in the cancer center and attract the top brains in the field. It will be good for the morale of the patient, not to be shuffled all over the place. Everything will be right there in one freestanding building."

Since her Oriental-themed home on Spyglass Hill was built five years ago, Junie Chong had promised herself that, one day, she would open her doors to do "something very dear to my heart."

The Macnabs "were wonderful to me when I came here with my husband from Philadelphia in 1972," she said, an heirloom diamond brooch glittering at her neck. "I was frightened and apprehensive. They have adopted me."

That "something very dear" to Junie Chong's heart turned out to be one of the most elegant affairs ever held on the Orange County social scene.

Valet parking was available for guests, who trekked gingerly over an authentic Chinese bridge before they entered the Chong home. "When you cross over the bridge, all of the bad luck is supposed to go away," Junie Chong said, adding, "And all of the good luck is ahead."

Mingling on the taupe-colored marble in the 3,500-square-foot ballroom--where Junie admits to jogging daily--guests enjoyed cocktails and a bagpipe serenade before a dinner that included Scottish salmon cornets, garnished with caviar and haggis, the traditional Scottish dish, presented with great ceremony by Macnab's brother-in-law, William McIntyre and served with a shot of Glenlivet Scotch.

For Macnab's dedication to the Hoag Foundation, Albert J. Auer--vice chairman of the board of directors of Hoag--presented him with a sterling silver skene dhu (black knife), a utility knife worn by Scotsman as an accessory when he is dressed in a kilt.

Among those attending were Dr. DeLane Thyen and his wife, Catherine; Madame Silvia Wu, owner of the famed Madame Wu restaurant in Santa Monica, and her husband, King Yan Wu; Fran and Dr. John Applegate, chief of staff of Hoag Hospital; Huntington Beach City Atty. Gail Hutton and her husband, Paul; Rep. Robert Badham, R-Newport Beach, and his wife, Anne; Jerry Beigel and his wife, Sandy, stunning in a black and gold creation by Valentino; Mary Macnab McIntyre, John's sister, who came with her husband, William, from Scotland for the affair; Vin and Nora Jorgensen; Dorothy von Hemert, and Marian and Tony Montapert.

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