President Reagan and the First Lady have lunched there beside the cool, blue pool. Congressional aspirant Nathan Rosenberg and his wife, Claire, have fund-raised there amid the Duesenbergs, et al, in the automobile museum. And on Oct. 15, Dick Ruiz of Tustin, recently chosen to receive United Way's prestigious Alexis de Tocqueville Society award, will be honored there--at Willa Dean and William Lyon's Coto de Caza property--in a tent.
A tent? Think about it. The dining room in the Lyons' 20,000-square-foot mansion simply cannot accommodate the 50 guests expected to attend the exclusive, sit-down repast (It's a members-only affair. Among members: Donald Bren, Don Koll, David Tappan, Walter Gerken, Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, Peter Ochs--society chairman--and William Lyon, himself. To belong, one makes a private, not corporate, donation of $10,000 annually to United Way of Orange County.)
And it will certainly be too cool to dine beside the pool.
And the automobile museum--15,000 square feet of brick-paved grandeur that houses about 55 classic cars--would be a little commodious for such an intimate affair.
So, a snow-white tent it will be, looking fairy tale-like as it sits somewhere near the snow-white gazebo that rests on the Lyons' 131-acre estate.
The always-generous Lyons are always busy-busy. Last week, they underwrote a bash for 300 in their auto museum for patrons of the Newport Beach Concours d' Elegance. This week, they are off, with a crew of two, in their Falcon 50 jet to Madrid, where the retired Air Force general will attend an American Airlines board meeting. (By the way, the three-engine, nine-passenger Falcon 50--which Lyon owns with a silent partner--sells for more than $10 million. Capable of going anywhere in the world, the jet is manufactured in Daussault, France. French President Francois Mitterrand used to jet-set around in one. But now he flies friendly skies in a Falcon 900, a three-engine that seats 12 to 15 passengers.)
Next month, the busy Lyons will host the United Way dinner. Then, come the holidays, the Lyons may find themselves entertaining the Reagans again. Learning recently that the President and the First Lady plan to spend some of the holiday season in their new Bel-Air home, Willa Dean said she and the general hope to "have them by." Willa Dean also noted, with a fond laugh, that when Nancy Reagan had toured her new home during a luncheon there a few months ago, she told Willa Dean that she didn't want the President to see the general's plush bath. "If he sees it, he won't be happy with his (Bel-Air bathroom)" was Nancy Reagan's comment, according to Willa Dean.
But back to the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. Peter Ochs of Corona del Mar, president of the Fieldstone Co., went to Washington last week to attend a Sept. 13 White House reception with the President for members of the national chapter of the society (donors of $100,000 annually to United Way). "About 28 people were there," said Ochs, who attended with his wife, Gail. "The president chatted about the importance of volunteerism in the private sector." Something, Ochs said, that he and his wife have always felt was important. "We have supported United Way since we were first married," he said. "It's a way, with one check, to help the less fortunate in the community. I have been making contributions to it all of my life. And my parents did the same."
The Ochs' contributions to United Way are becoming legend. This year, they issued a $250,000 Challenge Match Grant to stimulate an increase in individual giving. And, to stimulate interest in the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, Ochs asked William Lyon, Carl Karcher, Tony Moiso and Ron Merriman to help recruit members. The results? Six new supporters: John Crean, Tony Allen, John O'Donnell, Ron Livingston, Jim Baldwin and Merritt Johnson, president of United Way of Orange County.
A site for sore eyes: Judy Hemley, wife of Newport Harbor Art Museum chairman Rogue Hemley, is forming her committee for the party that will mark the site dedication of the proposed new Newport Harbor Art Museum on Dec. 8. It too, will be a tented affair, and black-tie, with a cocktail reception before a very formal sit-down dinner. Museum director Kevin Consey plans to visit Washington to invite a "dynamic speaker" to attend the affair ("We can't say who because we haven't asked him yet," Judy said). Who will be doing the dedicating? Well, let's put it this way: The Irvine Co. donated the land for the new museum. On the guest list: Renzo Piano, the Italian architect for the new museum. (Tidbit: Rogue and Judy, along with Kevin Consey, visited Piano's Genoa digs this spring. "The food there is fabulous ," said Judy). When Piano is in Orange County, he goes for Chinese, such as Michael Kang's Five Feet restaurant in Laguna Beach.