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RSVP / The Social City : Cook's Retiring May Be L.A.'s Loss

June 04, 1995|MARY LOU LOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

What will this social city do without a full-time Lod Cook, retiring Arco chairman? In the name of Cook, the Norman Topping Cancer Research Dinner the other night raised $1.54 million at the Beverly Hilton. Of course, there was support. Charles C. Reed and wife Lorna (five years free of breast cancer) of San Marino, who have chaired two of the five Topping dinners raising $6 million for the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, chaired this latest event. In fact, they raised the $2.2 million three years ago at the Norris dinner honoring the late James Zumberge, USC president who died of cancer.

A robust, healthy Cook (who had bypass surgery four months ago), was aglow, paying tribute to his wife, Carole, and volunteers. The Cooks have completed a big house in Sherman Oaks and will vacation at their lake cottage in Louisiana, where as a youngster Cook headed the state organization of 4-H Clubs. Cook will also keep an active interest in Junior Achievement, Rebuild LA, Plaza de la Raza and the Puente Learning Center and, of course, Norris.

Civic leaders starched up for the night: Berle Adams; Dr. Peter A. Jones (USC/Norris director) and his wife, Veronica (he called the '90s "the golden age of cancer research"); honorary chair Mike Bowlin (Arco president and CEO), whose wife, Martha, has lymphoma and is newly under the care of the Norris; Ginny and Dick Stever; Paul and Sherrill Colony; Judy and Fred Brant; Sandy and Greg Doerschlag; Marilyn Zumberge; Byron E. Allumbaugh; David Carpenter; Sheriff Sherman Block and his wife, Alyce; Flora Thornton and Eric Small; Russell and Jeanne Smith; Dr. Stephen J. Ryan; Lew and Edie Wasserman; Dr. Joseph and Ann Van der Meulen; Sherwood Schwartz (creator of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch") and wife Mildred, and Cancer Research Associates President Philip V. Swan.

Also in the audience: Sheldon and Sandra Ausman. Shel heads the Music Center's United Fund $10-million campaign. Spoke up Sandy: "We're only $300,000 short and we're gonna go over." After dessert, PBS political satirist Mark Russell entertained for more than half an hour. Laughter was hearty; few left early.

Blue Ribbon Tribute: Proud is good. And the Blue Ribbon of the Music Center celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Children's Festival on Tuesday by inviting festival chairs from the past 24 years to gather at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for a reunion luncheon. Helen Wolford, who chaired the inaugural event in 1970, flew in from Maui and paid strong tribute to Music Center founder Dorothy Chandler, with whom she talks regularly. Wolford dissolved into tears when Robin Avelar La Salle (now director of curriculum and staff development at Norwalk-LaMirada Unified School District), recalled that as a child from Echo Park, she attended the first festival.

Past chairs such as Carrie Ketchum, Nancy Livingston, Nadine Carson, Sandy Ausman and Lois Erburu were guests. And Blue Ribbon President Phyllis Hennigan, and this year's co-chairs Debbie Lanni and Toni Webb were in the spotlight at the intimate luncheon after plaza festivities. Over 25 years, more than 600,000 schoolchildren have been treated to world-class performances at the Music Center. This year, the L.A. Opera presented "Journey to Cordoba."

Elsewhere on the Social Circuit: What's new? The L.A. Opera's Junior Opera Project. It has a goal to develop new opera audiences, give adults ages 25 to 45 a greater appreciation of opera, and raise funds to take opera to public schools. Lofty ideals? Yes, but plausible in the hands of Alice and Joe Coulombe, Carol and Warner Henry, Christy Bakaly, Eileen and Charles Read, Carlotta and Rusty Keely, Ann Bookout, Tink Cheney, Peggy Galbraith, Laura and Carlton Seaver, Dorn and Victoria Dean, Judith Farrar, Brooke and Edward Garlock, Sally Green, Nelson and Kelly Holdo. They and other dauntless leaders, some of whom met recently at Carol Henry's new Arroyo home, will be spending Father's Day at the opera. A "Porgy and Bess" matinee will follow brunch. All this leads toward next April 21 when the project will present a one-hour English version of Donizetti's "L'Elizir d'Amore" on stage at the Dorothy Chandler for 550 parents and children. . . .

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