"We couldn't roast her," Bernice Hird whispered of state Sen. Marian Bergeson on Friday night. "She's too nice. So, we decided to toast her!"
And toast her they did at the Westin South Coast Plaza. From the moment Bergeson's husband, Garth, took the stage to reminisce about her love of animals ("on our early camping trips, she always wanted to pet the bears") to the moment B.T. Collins, assistant to the state treasurer, made a laugh-a-second surprise appearance, the silver-haired senator from the 37th District was hailed and regaled.
There were even toasters--the bread-roasting kind--on the tables.
The 300-strong supporters of the Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled that also included such political notables as state Sen. John Seymour and Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley met for cocktails at 7 p.m. and then settled down to a chicken and beef dinner before the senator took the "warm" seat.
"I remember the Christmas we had Honey Baked ham and enchiladas from the Price Club for dinner," teased Bergeson's daughter, Julie. Of course, the implication was that, because of the time constraints of her career, mom has little chance to cook. In her retort, Bergeson assured her daughter that she would "get to plan the Christmas menu this year."
During all of the remarks (including adoration-laced jabs from Bergeson's son, James, Judge Don Smallwood and former Newport Beach Mayor Jackie Heather) volunteers used sign language to convey them to deaf guests--gestures that perfectly demonstrated the goal of the center.
"Our goal is to increase independence," said Brenda Premo, the center's executive director. "So the person with a disability can live as productively and independently as possible.
"You can think of your life as a pie. One piece of that pie is your limitation. Some people have limitations that are not visible--they can't spell, they can't draw. . . . But when you have a physical limitation, people see that part of the pie. What we try to do is decrease the effect that has on your life."
Premo, who is legally blind, recently received her MBA from Pepperdine University. "We're different from other programs which serve the disabled," noted Premo, appointed by former President Reagan to the National Council on Disability. "We're consumer-run. The majority of our board consists of people with disabilities--qualified professionals who also just happen to be disabled."
Bergeson pronounced the center "an organization we should all know more about and support wholeheartedly." Event proceeds were estimated at $20,000.
Also on the scene: event chair Terry Kerr, area manager for Southern California Edison; Glenn and Dottie Stillwell, close friends of the Bergesons, and Marian Koonce of Santa Barbara (another Reagan appointee to the national council) and her husband, Elmer.
The fashion according to St. John: Designer Marie Gray not only created the St. John Knits, she created the star of the show staged by Nordstrom at Brea Mall for the Assistance League of Fullerton last Thursday. Her stunning daughter, Kelly, signature model for St. John, swept down the runway and re-created all the haute photo looks that have made her famous.
Presiding over the affair was chairwoman Irene Linduski, who confessed that she had purchased not one but two St. John dresses because of the affair. "When I went out to buy the one I'm wearing, I found another, puff-sleeved dress cocktail number that I had to have," she said.
League president Jan Regitz didn't don a St. John for the show and luncheon. But, she said, "I'm planning to choose one today."
Proceeds were estimated at more than $12,000.
Grand, grand: Court Prowell was named grand marshal of the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee's 1989 Boat Parade at the Grand Marshal Ball on Saturday at the Anaheim Hilton & Towers. The 26th annual ball celebrated the success of the Cruise of Lights, a December fund-raiser that brought $95,000 to the Orange County Philharmonic Society. Also on the committee: Joan Foote, Isabel Greenwald, Jean Evans, Merle King, Ellen Wenger, Eleanor Raffel, Pat Hatley, Helen LaBayne and Phyllis Helland.