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David Nelson / SOCIETY

Women of Dedication Honored at Ceremony

February 11, 1988|David Nelson

SAN DIEGO — The Women of Dedication certainly proved worthy of their titles last Thursday.

More than 200 noteworthy community volunteers have been named Women of Dedication by the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary of the Door of Hope since the group founded its annual fashion luncheon and recognition ceremony in 1965.

But while the day always has recognized the A's in citizenship earned by both honorees and guests, the attendees at Thursday's event demonstrated, beyond the shadow of a doubt and by the simple fact of their presence, that they all are thoroughly dedicated to good works in general and the Door of Hope in particular.

In particular, this dedication manifested itself through the determination the event's honorees and supporters--some 850 souls in all--showed in reaching the luncheon, which was given in the Pavilion Ballroom of the San Diego Marriott hotel.

Getting there wasn't easy; a closed Interstate 5 off-ramp and snarled downtown streets made the approach to the waterfront challenging, and finding a parking place in the jammed, chaotic Marriott lot was an even more tiresome endeavor. Many, in fact, found it quite impossible, including the driver of a large, pink Cadillac, who simply abandoned her car in a hotel driveway and marched bravely and insouciantly into the luncheon.

Those who finally reached the ballroom--and nearly everyone did--found it decorated with a lively Oriental motif, including boughs of cherry blossoms that served as early heralds of an imminent spring. They also found it appropriately packed with many of the volunteers whose contributions of time and money provide essential assistance to the county's cultural, health and charitable organizations.

Chairman Fern Murphy guided the event through its multifaceted program, which included formal addresses by Salvation Army spokespersons, a drawing for extravagant door prizes, the presentation of the honorees and a showing of designer sportswear by Saks Fifth Avenue-La Jolla.

Murphy said she found the day well worth the months of preparation it required: "The list of honorees is wonderful," she said. "These women are such a tribute to volunteerism. It's quite a group--their efforts run a spectrum from the arts to health care, and at least half of them work with children."

Alison Tibbitts, a 1987 Woman of Dedication and one of the city's most respected volunteers, assisted Murphy as event co-chairman.

Many of the guests said they have made attendance at the luncheon an annual ritual because it honors not just well-known society women but others drawn from all corners of the county and Tijuana who work vigorously to aid an extensive list of organizations. As always, many of these organizations took tables as a show of support for their honorees. Among them were the Angels of Aseltine, Caridad International, the Boys and Girls Mental Health Center Auxiliary, Navy Flag Officers' Wives, the Globe Guilders, and the San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society.

Fifteen rather apprehensive-looking women and their spouses marched backstage just before the crowd finished the luncheon of fruit cup and chicken Epernay, or chicken breasts rolled in flour and spread with a very white sauce. Burl Stiff, the San Diego Union columnist, reprised the role he has played in former years and introduced the Women of Dedication one by one, as each, on the arm of her husband, strolled slowly down the ramp to a rising chorus of applause.

The honor roll commenced with Merrilyn Arn, current president of the Epilepsy Society Auxiliary and former president of the Women's Committee of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra Assn.

Following Arn were Lois Dechant, a national chairman of the University of Southern California scholarship alumni interview program and editor of the Globe Guilder Gazette; Peggy Elliott, president-elect of the California Medical Assn. Auxiliary and a former board member of the San Diego Opera Assn.; Socorro Morena de Fimbres of Tijuana, former president of several organizations formed to aid needy and blind residents of that city, and Mary Ann Fitch, a former president of the Country Friends and president of the Saint Anne Hospital Guild.

Others were Joan Jacobs, active in several capacities with the La Jolla Playhouse and a director of the San Diego Hebrew Home for the Aged; Betty Kappes, vice-president of the Vista League of the American Cancer Society and a past president of the Tri-City Hospital Auxiliary; Helen McKinley, past membership co-chairman of the Door of Hope Auxiliary and treasurer of the Opera Guilds International Conference; Beverly Muchnic, a long-time director of the San Diego Museum of Art and a former chairman of the Holiday Bowl Poinsettia Ball, and Dolly Poet, recognized as one of the Old Globe Theatre's most active volunteers, and a volunteer for the American Field Service.

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