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David Nelson / Society

School Gets a Holiday Bonus

December 31, 1987|David Nelson

SAN DIEGO — Never count your chickens before they hatch, especially when the project at hand entails raising funds for one of the city's nearly innumerable worthy causes.

A committee of The Bishop's School's alumni, current students and parents boldly--some might have thought foolishly--chose one of the most unlikely dates of the year upon which to hold a fund-raiser.

But even though it was the night after Christmas, and all through the town barely a creature was stirring, the group was rewarded not only with a sold-out attendance of 400, but also with a waiting list.

Given Saturday at the Catamaran Hotel, "The Chair Affair" brought out a seasonally dressed cross section of the exclusive academy's many friends for a tribute to Otto Mower, the popular professor who, before retiring in June, instructed more than 1,600 Bishop's students in art history over the course of 17 years.

The event took its name directly from its beneficiary, The Otto A. Mower Chair for the Teaching of the Humanities, which when established will be the second named, endowed teaching chair in the school's 78-year history. (It is not common for endowed chairs to be established at secondary schools.) About $8,000 was raised toward the $300,000 goal; the school's trustees already have pledged to contribute one-half of the endowment, the rest to be gathered from the ranks of what Bishop's fondly calls its "family."

The event was the brainchild of hotelier and Bishop's alum William L. Evans, who with his family provided complete underwriting. Evans, president of the recently established Mower Society, also presented a book of alumni memories to Mower during the after-dinner tribute.

A Younger Crowd

Joan Wilson, who shared event chairmanship duties with Ann Jones, said that the party date was chosen primarily because many graduates would be in town for the holidays. The ploy paid off handsomely because the crowd was much younger than is usual at such events, and the young people showed a real appreciation for the man of the hour.

For his part, Mower fairly glowed as he remained at the center of an ever-shifting circle of youthful admirers, rather like a latter-day Mr. Chips.

"I'm overwhelmed by the people who turned out," he said. "It's amazing, especially since this is such a busy time of year."

Asked if he missed his students, Mower raised his shoulders in a pleased shrug and said, "I dream about them almost every night. That must mean they're in my soul."

Ann Jones said that Mower's popularity owed much to the influence he had upon many of his students, adding that her own daughter, Julie, is pursuing a degree in art history.

"There have been a lot of Dr. Mower's students who have been inspired by him to study art," said Jones, noting that one has earned a doctorate in medieval manuscripts and now teaches at Wellesley College.

The Right Rev. Robert Wolterstorff, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, offered the invocation that opened the formal program. Alumnae and sisters Sarah, Caroline and Nancy Coade played Bach's Trio Sonata in G Major, which preceded tributes to Mower offered by alumnae Cherry Adams Sweig, Kerry Traylor and Allyson Beasley. Mower closed the formalities with his own cheerful remarks and reflections.

Among the guests were Bishop's Headmaster Michael Teitelman and his wife, Marlene; James Updegraff; Anne Evans; Grace and David Cherashore; Kerry Appleby; Elizabeth Davidson; Karen and Orrin Gabsch; Renee and Bob Walter; Sally and Lee Weston; Nell and Tom Waltz, and Molly and Bill Eldredge.

LA JOLLA--Guests at the twin at-home receptions given Saturday and Sunday by Virginia and Jack Monday found themselves drawn helplessly into reminiscing about other nights spent in what long has ranked as one of this town's favorite party houses.

Most of the guests present had attended one of the pair of Western hoedowns (the Mondays took a cue from Noah when they embarked on their course as hosts) given 30 long months ago, the last entertainment to be held at this ocean-front house before it underwent an extensive remodeling that only recently was completed.

Many also recalled, quite vividly, the unusual guests of honor given at a party held around the indoor pool; these guests were a pair of penguins, present to promote a gala marking the opening of Sea World's Penguin Encounter. The beasts, not quite as cute up close as they are at a distance, spent most of the evening attempting to devour the guests' jewels, which they evidently mistook for marine delicacies.

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