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Willie Nelson Fulfills a Promise With a Benefit Concert for Brea Youth Club

November 05, 2001|EVAN HALPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

All it took was a letter from Texas to get Frank Scott to slide on his glittering gold bolo tie. Scott and a handful of buddies put down big bucks to attend Sunday night's most unconventional fund-raiser for the La Habra-Brea Boys & Girls Club.

"The letter was from Willie Nelson," said Scott, an 86-year-old Houston native now living in Fullerton. "He told me he was going to do this thing and he had to have a fellow Texan in the audience."

The philanthropist had never even met Nelson, but assumed someone from the Boys & Girls Club had given him his name and address. He said he was glad they did.

Scott and a table of his friends under the VIP tent were among some 400 country music fans who pitched in contributions totaling $125,000 toward a new club facility built in Brea in exchange for tickets to see the American icon in a cozy auditorium at the Unocal corporate offices.

Tickets ranged from $125 to $10,000. The top-of-the-line tickets went to a pair of donors who will also be treated to a round of golf with Nelson, and receive an autographed guitar.

"We're doing this as a favor and because it is a good cause," said Nelson just before the concert, seated in a soft-leather booth under hanging strings of beads inside his plush tour bus. "I'm glad to be here."

Nelson's golfing buddy and business associate, Tom Duncan, persuaded him to donate his time and talent. Duncan, a local member of the Boys & Girls Club board, rents out trucks to Nelson, 'N Sync, Britney Spears and other music stars.

Duncan, who said he has known Nelson for a quarter century and happily flies across the country to talk business with him over golf games, said he has been telling Nelson for five years that he would be asking him for a favor some day. During that time, the Boys & Girls Club was working to get zoning approval for a two-story, 28,000-square-foot clubhouse with a gym, music room, arts-and-crafts areas and all-purpose rooms. He and others said the work is badly needed to replace the modular unit currently used for a clubhouse. They hope to serve 3,200 area kids at the new facility.

Planning and City Council approvals for the $5-million project finally came through this year. Then the capital campaign began--and Duncan gathered the nerve to ask his golfing partner if he would jump-start it. Nelson said he would.

"Willie's a good-hearted soul and he likes to help people who need it," Duncan said.

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