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History Makers

| Monday, April 7, 2008

"Because I grew up in Pittsburgh is why I can do the work that I do. Pittsburgh is part of the history of our country, part of the history of the world," so sayeth the historian's historian, native son and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, David McCullough , who keynoted Friday's superlative History Makers Gala at the Westin Convention Center.

It was dejà vu all over again as 43 legendaries -- born or bred in Pittsburgh -- who made history worth repeating came together in an evening that was a credit to the Senator John Heinz History Center and to Andy Masich 's spirited leadership as its prez and CEO. Now the largest history museum in the state and allied with the Smithsonian, which places it in an elite pantheon, the History Center is popping its buttons over officially launching Pittsburgh's 250th birthday celebration. That's 250 years in the making, dear reader ... from hell with the lid off to America's most livable city!

The eve that celebrated the past while looking to the future began with a very private, veddy posh reception for the honorees from all 15 galas before meeting up with a record crowd of bigwigs and glitterati who mingled with costumed characters like George Washington, Andrew Carnegie and Josh Gibson over cocktails. And at 750, the guest list closed two weeks ago. You will be thrilled to hear that there were any number of beautifully turned-out women and men in the ballroom that was smartly lit in alternating panels of red and blue.

Black-ties tucked into a luscious menu of chipotle shrimp and sea scallops, a juicy filet mignon with sweet potato risotto, and an x-rated chocolate mousse charlotte. All impeccably served on tables covered elegantly and long in Mosaic's navy shadow-striped cloths with gold-embroidered chiffon overlays and centered with a flourish by Bloom's red/white/blue patriotic whimsies. A star spangled salute to Audrey Brourman who produced the Yankee Doodle dandy party that was chaired by Nadine Bognar, Sandy Mellon and Bev Elliott .

Happily, the speeches were short and meaningful, and there was a poignant video tribute to Sen. John Heinz who died in a plane crash 17 years ago to the day. His widow Teresa (with Sen. John Kerry ) and son Christopher Heinz watched from the dais. Actress Barbara Feldon narrated the smashing video that toasted every history maker.

But it was David McCullough's brilliant remarks, sans a single note, that kept us riveted to our seats. Nor did he speak of "John Adams," his thrilling book on our second president that has been transformed into an equally thrilling mini-series on HBO.

Did anyone look happier than these history makers, or families look prouder• Dr. Tom Starzl; Bill Johnson; Dan Rooney; Carol Brown; Shirley Jones; Stephen Flaherty; Esther Barazzone , Ph.D; Paul O'Neill Sr.; Dick Simmons; Elsie and Henry Hillman ; Dr. George Magovern; Bill Strickland; Bill Mazeroski; Franco Harris; John Murray , Ph.D; Dr. Albert Ferguson; Herb Douglas; Joanne Rogers (for her late husband Fred); Allan Meltzer , Ph.D; Carol Semple Thompson; Kathy Simon Frank (for her late father Herbert Simon); Tom O'Brien; Marty McGuinn; Philip Pearlstein; Patricia Wilde; Mary Page , Ph.D; Judge Frank Lucchino ; Dr. Anthony DiGioia; Helen Faison , Ph.D; Ansley Robin (for her late father John); Frank Cahouet; Robert Knutson; Tom McConomy; Janet Simon ; Ph.D; Betty Robinson , Ph.D; John Ryan III; Doreen Boyce , Ph.D; Georgeane Foerster (for her late husband Tom); and Nancy Bolden (for her late husband Frank).

The party ended with a stirring finale by the Children's Festival Chorus.

All-Star Roast

Former Steelers strong safety Donnie Shell , nicknamed "Torpedo" for his ferocious hits on the football field, received verbal jabs from teammates at the Mel Blount Youth Home Celebrity Roast on Friday at the Hilton. The league's all-time leader in interceptions at his position when he retired and four-time Super Bowl champ, Shell (with Paulette ) was roasted by Judge Dwayne Woodruff, Mike Wagner, John Stallworth and Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy , giving the 1,000 black-tie guests an evening filled with laughter.

Champions off the field, too, these stars helped raise $250,000 to benefit MBYH, which provides a home in Washington County for boys who are victims of abuse and neglect.

We give special applause to emcee Lynn Swann , a last-minute substitute for Terry Bradshaw , whose plane was grounded in Texas. "I always wanted to be the quarterback," Swann joked.

More than 30 celebrities helped celebrate the event's 10th anniversary, including MBYH founder Mel Blount (wearing his signature Stetson) with his lovely TiAnda ; Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and gorgeous wife Kiya; Joe Greene; Max Starks; Jeff Hartings; Ted Petersen; Jim Render; Connie George; Jim O'Brien ; and Carla and Mike Yeomans .

-- JoAnne Harrop

April in Paris Ball

Oooh, la, lah...a replica of the Eiffel Tower at the entrance to the Westin Convention Center ballroom was the exciting provenance of Saturday's soiree, the Allegheny General Hospital Auxiliary's c'est magnifique April in Paris ball.

Refrains from "I Love Paris" floated over cocktails, the better to bid at the terrific silent auction and admire the tres chic parade of women in ballgowns in the record turnout of 450 black ties. All bidding with their hearts to raise $250,000 for AGH's department of radiation oncology, one of the largest networks in the nation.

If guests looked up from their delicious wine and dine with its finale flourish of chocolate Eiffel Towers, they were dazzled by Blooms' centerpieces of lavender and pink orchids, hydrangeas and roses before dancing the night away to Sputzy and the Soul Providers.

A peek at the guest list: chairs Dr. Mark and Robin Trombetta ; honorary chairs Sharon and Tunch Ilkin with his mom Ayten (a former Miss Turkey!); AGHA prexy Mary Warde with Dr. Donal ; AGH prez Connie Cibrone; Polly and Dr. Greg Dell'Omo; Carol and David McClenahan; Debra and Joseph Macerelli ; Dr. Patrick DeMeo and Anita ; Dr. Jack Wilberger and Mary ; Dr. David Medich; Tracy and Drew Keys; Diane and Tom Chakurda ; Dr. Ngoc Thai ; emcee Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV; Dr. Suzanne Labriola , in a knockout yellow chiffon gown, with Michael D'Amico ; and Alan West , who won the fabulous trip for two to gay Paree!

-- JoAnne Harrop

Let's Fly a Kite

Hundreds of jaunty kites suspended on high at the Carnegie Science Center were the delightful leitmotif of Saturday's Kitetails and Cocktails splash to benefit KidsVoice , a unique force in our community that teams attorneys with social-service professionals who are advocates for abused, neglected and at-risk kids. Now that spring has finally sprung, the damsels in the crowd of 430 took their cues from the theme and turned out in vibrant colors.

To celebrate KV's centennial, guests grazed the buffets and bid high and handsome at the silent auction to raise more than $160,000.

Among the high-flyers were director Scott Hollander with Teo and his father Tom ; board prez Michael Lynch with Kristin; Judy and Michael Cheteyan; Ralph Papa; Tina and Derek Gaskins; Ray Betler; Debbie and Brian Jewell; Cynthia and Paul Liefield; Chip Burke; Annie Hanna Engel with Gus; Janice and Kurt Stein; Pat and Alan Siger; Stacy Sweeney; Mary and Dean Calland ; and Carole and Doug MacPhail .

-- JoAnne Harrop

Let's Salsa

Step right up. It's Carnival Time.

Saturday's Calypso Carnival at the Pittsburgh Golf Club had a spicy salsa feel to it with upbeat music by the Caribbean Vibes Steelband and 250 guests shimmying to everything from the limbo to the mambo. Chairs Susie Steele, Jan Hren and Jennifer Ohrman (with Dan, Mike , and Ken ) went all out for this one from serving authentic dishes of flaky chorizo empandillas and mango upside down cake to transforming the club into a place fit for a Caribbean Queen and her King. All to benefit Outreach Teen & Family Services , which provides affordable community-based counseling services for young people and their families during stressful times.

A shake of the maracas to honorees Holly Sethman with Rick and Marshall Gordon with Baylee and son David ; OTFS director Michael Barfield ; board prez David Hartman with Laura; Joe and Lynn Smith; Lauren Steele; Kim Steele; Jody and Dale Colby; Bob Morgan; Ruby and Dr. Jim Kang ; and Dina and Greg Valant .

-- JoAnne Harrop

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