Hobby Gala Celebrates 80th Anniversary

While it was business as usual for most of William P. Hobby Airport Saturday night, the new Central Concourse expansion buzzed with a party crowd celebrating the airport's 80th anniversary.

Vintage aircraft and actors in old-time airline uniforms provided the nostalgia for 400 guests, who were able to drive their cars on the taxiways to the new gate area. The crowd, including honorary chairs Andrea and Mayor Bill White, walked the red carpet that led from valet parking to behind-the-scenes elevators that whisked them up to the main level for the aviation soiree.

The buffet dinner and auction were organized by the Hobby 80th Anniversary Committee, comprising airline officials, advertising reps and members of the Houston Airport System. Supporters included more than 30 companies representing aviation, energy and restaurant sectors. The 1940 Air Terminal Museum, Expectation Graduation and Ronald McDonald House Houston were lucky recipients of the evening's proceeds.

The retro sounds of the Ronnie Renfrow Orchestra wafted through the party scene while special guests Janet and Paul Hobby, representing the Hobby family, inspected the vintage aircraft and the new expansion. Gala chair Chris Pappas, with three family members graduating from various schools that weekend, was unable to attend, but he sent Pappas Restaurants CFO Ernie Pekmezaris in his stead.

VIPs in the gathering included Ann Marie and Rick Vacar, Houston Airport System director; Sue and Roy Hearnsberger, Friends of the Airport chairman; Mary Case, Hobby Airport manager; and City Council members Peter Brown, Adrian Garcia, Toni Lawrence and Ron Green. Jack Drake of the Greater Greenspoint Management District served as emcee and auctioneer.

The new gate area of the Central Concourse officially opened Tuesday.

Artist salute

It was a festive celebration in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Cullinan Hall Friday night when 90 guests donned their party attitudes for a dinner celebrating the opening of Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil: the Adolpho Leirner Collection.

In a very civilized arrangement, artist Leirner was accompanied by his current wife, Esther Hamermesz, ex-wife Fulvia Leirner and his daughter, artist Jacqueline Leirner, plus several other of his children and grandchildren.

Toasting the new exhibition over dinner by City Kitchen were MFAH director Peter Marzio, newly elected MFAH board chair Cornelia Long, Meredith Long, Celina and Alfredo Brener, MFAH Latin American art curator Mari Carmen Ramírez, Brazilian Consul General Carlos Alberto de Azevedo Pimentel and on and on.

Political benefits

It's a steady stream of Republican presidential candidates who just can't seem to get enough of those Lone Star greenbacks in their political coffers. Sen. John McCain was back in town Tuesday lunching at the Houstonian, where Mica and Bob Mosbacher hosted their third fundraiser for the contender.

His talking points - immigration reform, border security and the importance of staying the course in Iraq. Listening - Shirley Dannenbaum, Meredith Iler, Erin Shalala, Carol Townsend, Sue Walden, Astrid Van Dyke, Robert Sakowitz, and Kristen and John Perry.

Final count

Neuhaus Education Center luncheon chairs Graham Neuhaus and Pat Noel and their underwriting chairs Barb and Will Noel are celebrating the final tally from the mid-April event.

The Westin Galleria fundraiser brought in record proceeds of $520,000 for reading-teacher development programs. As guest speaker, fashion designer Dana Buchman talked on her daughter's learning difficulties. The event honored Kay Allen, the center's executive director.

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