Profiles A Factotum for the Fashionable

Amid cluttered bulletin boards jammed with photos and memos, overflowing files, stacks of stationery, an invitation addressed to Tobin and Anne Armstrong and returned because of inadequate; postage, a dozen African violets and reams of apparently disorganized papers sits Katherine Bull – a positively neat woman with the efficiency of an executive secretary. Sipping a Diet Dr Pepper, she answers her two telephones (sometimes cradling both at once) at least 25 times within two hours. In this activity-filled alcove off her bedroom, she conducts the one-person business of coordinating parties and working as an exclusive social secretary for some of the top names in Dallas’ upper echelon.

But, dahling. That ain’t half of it.

Like the time a well-known socialite client (but we’re not telling who) gave her the kinky commission of finding a live pig to give another well-known Dal-lasite for Christmas.

Or the time she pulled together a society party for 200 in three days, rounding up the would-be revelers via telephone, not to mention the decorations, caterers and whatnot. Or the day she found herself in the kitchen of Jane Murchison Haber assisting in whipping ’ up a batch of jalapeno jelly. (The co-chefs soon found they had prepared enough to feed 5,000.)

No, you couldn’t call Katherine Bull your average social secretary. Her credits include working as a chaperone for some of the parties given by the infamous Medderses of Muenster, landing a small fortune for a TACA auction one year by getting a donkey on the auction block, and pedaling as a regular biking companion of Sharon Simons Moss.

“Would you believe I graduated from SMU with a major in Spanish?” asks the Dallas native with her ever-present laugh. The sole supporter of two college student sons, she passed up her educational background to enter the party business unassumingly in 1959 when Lanier Voss owned Party Service. On the side, she worked as private school secretary to Jane Haber and Evelyn Lambert. “But I’m an independent person. So I quit Party Service a few years later and have been on my own ever since.”

And since then, Katherine Bull says she has not had a single day off save for one well-deserved vacation (she’s still talking about it) to Greece in 1974. What keeps her going, you ask? “I love what I do, and I do it all the time. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 2 a.m. and come in here to address invitations. I work under the dryer at the beauty shop. I love it when someone presents me with a big mess and I have to put it in order. I may go shopping for my peo-ple, help them buy Christmas presents and even wrap them,” says the brunette whose list of employers – Annette Strauss, Sis Carr, Margaret McDer-mott, Mary Jo Vaughn – reads like the Dallas Social Directory.

Mrs. Bull is a hard-driving career woman in a position that demands a lot of grace and even more elan. It is evident that she possesses those qualities as all her business comes by word-of-mouth. Her firm has no commercial name, and is run pretty much down-home style when she sends sons Tom and Stephen off on society-related errands. In case you’re wondering, she gets paid by the hour.

“The people here are very socially-minded. Dallas has a lot of elegant parties.” But the magician behind her fair share of local bashes carefully adds, “I am not a socialite, although I attend many of the parties. I am an employee. But actually, more than anything else, I’m a friend.”

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