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Society / Featured Parties

Former President Helps Raise $2.2 Million in Houston

Playful Banter with Mom Powers This Family Affair

BY // 04.24.17
photography David Shutts, Michelle Watson

The Presidential prowess of fundraising was once again on display at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts when the 23rd annual  “A Celebration of Reading” garnered more than $2.2 million for the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and for the national literacy efforts of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

The former first lady is the absolute force behind this effort of advancing literacy, a cause she adopted when her husband, George H.W. Bush was in the White House. While the former president, who rarely if ever has missed this event, was in Methodist Hospital, wrangling pneumonia, Barbara Bush and literacy foundation chairs Maria and Neil Bush presided over the evening that hosted another former president — George W. Bush.

He was among the coterie of best selling authors to discuss writing techniques and their books. Joining him in the program were David Brooks, Sue Grafton and Bill Browder. They all turned out to be impromptu comedians, adding a fun note to the event. A little song and dance was further entertainment thanks to  Westfield High School theater students, who performed “Brand New Day” from The Wiz.

It is always a delightful evening that easily sells out with regulars returning year after year and newcomers signing on. Phillips 66, for example, served as title sponsor for the third consecutive year while Quanex Foundation stepped up as the first-ever presenting sponsor.

Following the program, which included a video and a testimonial as well as the playful banter with Barbara Bush, high-ticket guests stayed on for dinner. They joined the Bush family for Jackson & Company’s bountiful cold supper on stage and in the Hobby Center Foyer.

Booked for literacy: Houston foundation president Julie Baker Finck, Terri and John Havens, Lauren Bush Lauren, Lizzie Andrews, George and Annette Strake, Betty Hrncir, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Alice and Keith Mosing, Sue and Lester Smith, Ginger Blanton, Lori and Don Wallett, Shahla Ansary, Jack Christie, Diana Untermeyer, and Cathy Cleary.

Holiday Gifting

  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Wayne Smith
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Asher Gallery
  • Museum of Fine Arts Houston
  • Elaine Turner - Felicia Stole in Magenta
  • Elaine Turner - GiGi Flats
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Cotton Club
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Cotton Club
  • Wayne Smith

Earlier in the day, the Havens hosted a lunch at their River Oaks home for key players in the event including the authors.

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