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Hilton Americas-Houston Dazzled as The Social Book’s 2023 Houston Treasures Sparkled at its Annual Wintery Awards Gala

Hilton Americas Hotel Dazzled as The Social Book’s 2023 Houston Treasures Sparkled at its Annual Wintery Awards Gala

For the 19th time, The Social Book honored its annual list of those who have changed our city for the better. Houston Treasures creator Warner Roberts, along with Publisher Scott Evans, Editor Jeff Henry and Sami Shbeeb recognized the “dazzling dozen” individuals and couples for their lifelong commitment to our city, by unveiling them at a luxurious four-course dinner held at one of our city’s most renowned hotels—Hilton Americas Houston. The theme was aptly titled “A Dazzling Downtown Evening,” which signified the excitement of our town’s bustling center. General Manager Jacques D’Rovencourt (speaking at the dinner) and his hotel certainly mirrored that sentiment, as it was decorated to the hilt all through the lobby with white sparkling trees surrounded by giant poinsettias. The sumptuous fare was prepared by Executive Chef Ruffy Sulaiman and was perfectly paired with ultimate wines from Napa Valley-Cuvaison and Brandlin Estate. Courtesy of Chris Swanson and his company Firefox Video, past honorees had filmed video tributes in the hotel’s Presidential Suite in October, which were shown at the dinner. The tributes and presentations were interspersed and impeccably timed during each course of the meal.

Taking well-earned bows for their lifetime achievements were: Benjamin Berg, Zane & Brady Carruth, Lesha Elsenbrook, Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman, Brigitte & Bashar Kalai, Harriet & Truett Latimer, Tama Lundquist, Youval Meicler, Honorable Susan S. Soussan, Elizabeth & Alan Stein, Nancy Strohmer and Vicki West. Legendary Houston Treasures presented were Sidney Faust, Cora Sue and the late Harry Mach, Jr. and Honorable George and Annette Strake.

Introducing honorees via video and on-stage were Houston Treasures honorees from prior years. Presenting the new illustrious group were Robert Del Grande for Ben Berg, Ed McMahon for Zane & Brady Carruth; Ellie Francisco for Lesha Elsenbrook; Frann Lichtenstein and Jill Deutser for Leisa Holland-Nelson Bowman; Susan Boggio for Brigitte & Bashar Kalai; Honorable Bill King for Harriet & Truett Latimer; Alicia Smith for Tama Lundquist; Deborah Duncan for Youval Meicler; Honorable Arthur Schechter and Pam Lockard for Honorable Susan S. Soussan; Hallie Vanderhider for Elizabeth & Alan Stein; Carol Sawyer for Nancy Strohmer; and Lilly Andress for Vicki West.

Companies providing invaluable services to produce the stunning event were: Hilton Americas-Houston—Cuisine, Staffing, Ballroom Space, and Valet Parking; 360AV Design—Light-Sound-Video; Flowers by Nino—Florals and Centerpieces; EB, Inc.—Linens, Chair Covers/Sashes and Table Décor; Richard Brown Music & Flashdrive (DJU Entertainment)—String Quartet with DJ; Firefox Media—Video filming for honorees; Kirksey Gregg Productions—Stage and Table Décor; Two Estates Wine Collective—Chardonnay, “Library” Cabernet Sauvignon and Brut Rosé Sparkling; Denman Moody—Wine Consultation; Sherri Zucker and Carolyn Faulk (A&C Plastics)—Houston Treasures Awards & Lucite Bases; Gittings and Iraj Ghavidel—Portraits of Honorees; Elsie Smith Design—Invitation and Evening Program Design; Minuteman Press Missouri City—Printing of Invitation and Evening Program; Dalton DeHart and Daniel Ortiz—Social Photography; and C&M Moving—Transportation of Gifts. Reverends Juanita and Rudy Rasmus gave the evening’s invocation.

The evening was abundant with incredibly moving stories of the contributions made by the honorees over their lifetime. Included in these emotional moments was the presence of “Sonny,” a stray dog who was rescued on the streets of Houston by Tama Lundquist and her twin sister Tena Lundquist Faust, and who is now Tama’s certified service animal. A tricky maneuver was created to quietly sneak the dog into the hotel and keep him hidden close to the ballroom. Tena worked with The Social Book, Alicia Smith, and the hotel to surprise Tama on stage as she was beginning her acceptance speech. As with most canine public presentations, the dog stole everyone’s hearts!

Other memorable moments and/or behind-the-scenes highlights include rare white cabbages called “Brassica,” used in Flowers by Nino’s table arrangements. These cabbages, along with breathtaking white roses, white sweetheart roses and exceptional orchids, were gathered by Nino from five different countries; new L-E-D high-definition screens, courtesy of 360AV Design, were so mammoth and realistic, that they were reminiscent of the screens at any major Houston sporting arena; Two Estates Wines Collective CEO Dan Zepponi told the audience that the “Library” Cabernet Sauvignon wine being served at the dinner was the first time their famed vintage had been tasted by the public outside of the winery. He also stated that the wines would be released for sale to attendees first, by visiting a link given to them in their gift bags. Partial proceeds from the wine sales will be distributed by The Social Book to worthwhile Houston charities. A sweet feature that was repeated from last year’s gala was the distribution of toys donated by arriving guests, which will be delivered to the children of The Mission of Yahweh, a homeless shelter for women and children.

Honorees and attendees will not soon forget the sparkle, the dazzle, and a memorable wintery ambiance that welcomed this auspicious collection of remarkable Houstonians who have done so much for our city.

Former “Houston Treasures” honorees in attendance (in addition to the aforementioned) were: Margaret Alkek Williams, David Wuthrich, Honorable Joanne King Herring, Molly & Jim Crownover, Betty Hrncir, Fran Fauntleroy, Hon. Charles & Lily Foster, Tyson Faust, Diane Gendel, Ashley & Dr. Peggy Smith, Penny & John Butler, Nino Shbeeb, Monica Hartland, Yvonne Cormier, Mary Ann & David McKeithan, Judi McGee, Paul-David Van Atta, Hon. Bill King, Linda Lorelle, Jim & Jo Furr, Page Parkes, Rachel Regan, Gayla Gardner, Merele Yarborough, Susan Hansen, Wallis & DeeDee Marsh, Alicia Smith, Helen Shaffer, Leila Gilbert, Liz Jameson, Sybil Roos, Danielle Ellis, Francie Willis, Cyndy Garza Roberts, and Tim Miller, founder of Texas EquuSearch

Socially present (not previously mentioned): Mary Lynn & Steve Marks, John Hrncir, Bob Bowman, Chris Kase, Cheryl Boblitt, Walter Aymen, Bob Bowman, Sami Shbeeb & Stephanie Vazquez, Michael & Faleshia McClure, Les Eckert, Marge Lundquist, Karen Henry, Dr. Fred Aguilar, Tom Sawyer, Harry Gendel, Cheryl Byington, Roz Pactor, Denman & Marijo Moody, Angie & Cliff Roberts, Dick Hansen, Christine Johnson, Steve Johnson, Benny & Nichole Agosto, Bill Stubbs, Shannon Hall, Cathy Echols, Henri Soussan, Miami & Maghan Johnson, Jacquie Baly Craig & James Craig, Cody Soutar, Vicki Rizzo, Vicki West, Roz Pactor, Laurette Veres, Kim Padgett, Sue & Rusty Burnett, Barbara Van Postman, Jennifer Roosth, Tammie & Andy Johnson, Leela Krishnamurthy, Marilu Garza, Sharon Abercia & John Evans, Leila Perrin, Sandra Porter, Brian Corless, Missa Sutton, Ray Rogers, Charity Yarborough & Walter Cox, Laura Stein and Beau King

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