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'From Russia With Love' to People With Alzheimer's

August 17, 1993|ANN CONWAY

Russian-born Lily Monrof felt right at home at the "Evening to Remember" gala staged by the Alzheimer's Assn. of Orange County on Saturday night.

Themed "From Russia With Love," the event at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre offered a groaning board of Russian comestibles--for starters, blini with caviar, beef stroganoff and semolina pudding with sour cherries--and a concert by the Pacific Symphony that featured works by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff. Even a "Gorby" look-alike was on hand.

Rachmaninoff is her favorite Russian composer, Monrof said during the buffet picnic that preceded the concert. "I love his soft music."

Someday, Monrof says, she hopes to play Rachmaninoff on the piano for the Alzheimer's patients she tends at Artesia Gardens, the Buena Park residential facility she owns with her husband, Roy.

"They love the music I play for them," she said.

Said her friend Coleen Aldrich, an employee of Artesia Gardens: "We have people who can't even speak, and yet, when you sing to them, (they) know all of the words to an old song. Music touches Alzheimer's patients in a very special way."

Before the event was over, Monrof had won the grand prize drawing for a trip to Jamaica. She paid $25 for 10 chances. "I sold her the winning ticket!" Aldrich exclaimed.

Overseeing the third annual benefit was Joyce Weiss, who attended with her husband, Mark, her mother, Leah Kirshner, and her daughter, Cindy Weiglin. "We are all here to honor the memory of my father, Benjamin, who died of Alzheimer's disease," Weiss said.

Also among guests was Richard Hamill, president of the Alzheimer's Assn. board. "Our association is very excited about our new outreach to the Hispanic community," he said. "We have learned that we needed resources that the Hispanic community could relate to--Hispanic physicians and care-givers. We have put together a Hispanic advisory group to reach out to them."

Gross proceeds from the $65-per-person event are expected to be around $46,000.

Event underwriters included the Pacific Symphony; the John Douglas French Center for Alzheimer's Disease; ActivCare Residential Alzheimer's Care; Brittany House--Lake Park Villas; Crown, Cork and Seal Corp.; Stone Container Corp., and Robert B. Rosenberg, U.S. ElderCare Referral Agency.

Committee members included Cathy Boyle, Sandra Clouse, Debbi Coffman, Nina Harper, Catherine Pearce, Patricia Rosenberg, Joan Samuelson, Ken South, Donna Visnic and Susan Vocke.

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