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Intimate Dinner Parties Hosted By Prominent Dallas Residents

A peek inside the intimate dinner parties hosted by Dallas philanthropists and socialites to benefit the East Dallas Community School.
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LET’S PARTY: Host John Lee (far right) invites Charles Freeman, Jean-Marie Clossey, and Nancy Mulford to enjoy the view from his Exchange Building terrace. 


Dining for Dollars

Prominent Dallas residents host intimate dinner parties in their homes to benefit the East Dallas Community School.

The Rachofsky table was topped with a tablecloth created by current EDCS students in honor of the 50th birthday of founder Terry Founder.

Some parties are memorable and others”one or two in a decade, really, if you’re lucky”are so glamorous as to be unforgettable. The recent 25th anniversary bash for the East Dallas Community School, tossed by a legion of dazzlingly chic supporters, should be etched in the Soiree Hall of Fame, if such a thing existed.

The idea, brainstormed by chairman Brooke Aldridge and her committee, was genius: get 17 of the city’s most interesting and sought-after socialites-slash-philanthropists to host small fundraising dinners (most seated fewer than 14) at their homes, all on the same glorious May evening. Then end the night with a big after party to bring everyone together.

At the after party, revelers sipped cocktails on the Roses’ terrace.

The only tough part about the whole thing, we heard later from guests, was how to choose which dinner to attend. But you couldn’t have gone wrong, no matter where you ended up. The list of dinner hosts read like the Dallas Social Register and a good Alan Peppard column. (Alan, where were you?) They were Nancy Hamon, Naomi Aberly and Larry Lebowitz, Ruth and Ken Altshuler, Margot and

Rick and Carol Brettell meet and greet at the after party.

Ross Perot, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Lillie and Phil Romano, Heather and Bill Esping, Glenn Solomon, Laura and Dan Boeckman, Carole and John Ridings Lee, Patricia Patterson, Regen and Jeff Fearon, Elaine and Neils Agather, Nancy and Tim Hanley, Matrice and Ron Kirk, and Margaret McDermott, who served up dinner at her Allen ranch.

Guests paid up to $5,000 each to attend one of these intimate dinners, which raised money to fund scholarships at the East Dallas Community School. Catherine and Will Rose opened their newly renovated Edward Larabee Barnes-designed house (the architect who designed the Dallas Museum of Art) for the swinging poolside after party that drew more than 300 revelers, including Carol and Rick Brettell, Dale Hansen, Al Casey, Kelli and Allen Questrom, Gary and Karleen Kusin, Ron and Nance Chapman, and Gail and Bob Thomas.

CULINARY WIZARDRY: Food Company chef Ben Hutchison in the Aberly-Lebowitz kitchen.
FRAMED: Guests who chose to sup at the Rachofsky house enjoyed culinary creations from George Catering and one of the city’s most impressive art collections.
MODERN HOSPITALITY: Fourteen guests enjoyed dinner in the midcentury home of Naomi Aberly and Larry Lebowitz. 

Hosts Tim and Nancy Hanley become guests at the Roses after party.

Education for All

In 1978, when Terry Ford founded the East Dallas Community School, the concept of early intervention among underprivileged children was revolutionary. Twenty-five years later, many in Dallas have rallied in support of the nonprofit facility, which serves low-income children from age 2 through third grade.

Kelli Questrom and Bill Mackin at the after party.

The numbers say it all: 95 percent of its third-grade grads have since graduated high school or earned their GED. Of those students, 65 percent have gone on to college. Between 1993 and 1999, the average scores of its third graders on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (a national standardized test) were in the top 30 percent nationwide. Almost 90 percent of EDCS grads scored in the top half of their classes after moving to other schools.

EDCS has accomplished this feat in part with strong before- and after-school programs, a nationally recognized reading program, group and individual playtime sessions that focus on emotional and behavioral problems, and parent-education programs and home visits. More than 400 students are on the EDCS waiting list, but there’s hope. The state of Texas has granted EDCS application to open six charter schools that will be associated with the Dallas Independent School District. R.S.

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