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Builders People Planet for City of Hope

June 01, 1993|KATHRYN BOLD

Clark Gable and Mae West brought the glamour of the silver screen to an awards dinner staged last week by the Construction Industries Alliance for the City of Hope. The legendary stars weren't the real thing, of course, but that's Hollywood.

About 350 guests, many of them Orange County builders, crowded into Planet Hollywood in Santa Ana for the City of Hope Goes Hollywood awards dinner that honored Ralph and Goldy Lewis. The $200-per-person gala raised $175,000 for the City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute in Duarte.

Loosening Up

For the alliance, the rowdy atmosphere of Planet Hollywood was a marked change from years past when the dinner was a quiet, formal affair held in a hotel ballroom.

"Every dinner we've ever had has been black tie. We wanted something different, something a little more relaxed," said William Lyon, dinner chairman.

During the reception, guests circulated with champagne flutes in hand, occasionally ogling a life-sized dummy of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, a replica of the monster from the "Aliens" trilogy and other movie memorabilia.

For dinner they sat at tables spread with white cloths and decorated with gold stars, where they were served Caesar salad, New York steak or chicken and white chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone.

The large Lewis family--about 40 members in all--turned out to see Ralph and Goldy Lewis receive the alliance's Spirit of Life Award for their contributions to the City of Hope and other charities.

"This is thrilling," Ralph Lewis said. "We've been fortunate in business, and things have gone well, so we feel we should give something back."

Ralph Lewis is chairman and Goldy Lewis is executive vice president of Lewis Homes, established in 1957.

When he introduced the couple, Lyon said: "Ralph has built 45,000 homes. That's not what's important, however. What's important is that he sold them." The quip went over well with the crowd of recession-weary builders.

Story of Volunteers

Volunteers have long played a critical role in the history of City of Hope. The center began as a sanitarium for tuberculosis victims in 1913, after a man died of the lung disease on the streets of Los Angeles. A group of onlookers decided to pool their resources and set up two tents on 10 acres in Duarte, one for TB patients and another for doctors and nurses.

Since then, the tent city has evolved into a leading research and medical treatment center that specializes in cancer, AIDS and other catastrophic diseases.

Among City of Hope's achievements in its 80-year history:

* Discovering an improved method to diagnose AIDS in 1988.

* Synthesizing human insulin in 1978.

* Advancing the understanding of memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease in 1992.

"It's a wonderful place," Lyon said. "They not only perform research, they're treating people."

Faces in the crowd included John Lusk, founder of the builders alliance, and his wife, Nancy; Peter Ochs, alliance president, and his wife, Gail; Mannie Fineman, former board chairman of the City of Hope; Stephen Harrington, executive director of the City of Hope; James McNamara, Kathryn Thompson and Robert Vossler.

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