Mary Labyak would have loved it. That's what people kept saying at the sold-out Suncoast Hospice gala, held in the Renaissance Vinoy Resort the very evening the former hospice chief executive died at home in Clearwater, cared for by a hospice team.
Kathy Stahl, who cochaired the event with Linda Harris, said organizers didn't want to act inappropriately, having just learned of Labyak's passing, and so they offered a toast to her during the evening, figuring she would like for the 450 party guests to have a good time.
"As Time Goes By," the theme that borrowed from the 1942 film Casablanca, was the inspiration for party planners. There were vignettes throughout the ballroom, various seating arrangements in "Rick's Cafe," a hookah lounge, even an interpretation of an open-air city market for the silent-auction offerings.
Additional members of the committee were Lynne Columbus, Chris Davies, Marsha Emanuel, Gail Keck, Theresa Klingel, Peter Motzenbecker, Jeanie Renfrow and Kathy Wilder.
Major sponsors included Stahl & Associates Insurance, TSE Industries, the Free Family Foundation Corp., Larry and Mary Ann Platt and the Sidney and Beatrice Albert Foundation.
Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg generally has a clinical atmosphere, and rightly so. Still, it takes on a festive air each year as more than 20 restaurants, caterers and other food purveyors offer their best tastings, and wine and spirits providers supply sips of various vintages for several hundred ticketholders to Bayfront on Vine. Proceeds from the event go to equipping the Da Vinci robotic surgery initiative at Bayfront.
Clark Smith chaired the event committee, helped by nearly 50 volunteers and subcommittee chairs, including Tara Carroll, Hillary Chisholm, Phil Dickhaus, Tina Dyer, Tyson Grant, Kim Gustafson, Lynda Jollay, Claude Macari, Nina Mahmoudi, Lisa Nummi, Larry Parkin, Dr. David Parrish, Tom Pritchard, Cathleen Ryan, Anne Marie Smith, Steve Westphal and Kent Wilson.
Floral designers Cassie Osterloth and Bryan Redman performed instructional demonstrations to help the novices among us get better results when we're creating our own bouquets. Then, Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg honored "Five Fabulous Females" at its annual "Friends & Flowers" luncheon, held in the pavilion at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach.
That impressive group includes psychologist Kim Costello; former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio; artist, businesswoman and philanthropist Beth Morean; dietitian and consultant Lynne Stamey; and Bayfront Health Systems vice president Kanika Tomalin.
Also impressive were the young Academy Prep students and alumni who presented the honorees: LaDai Haywood, Lily Saengthong, Shaniqua Mitchell, A'moya Lemon and Damaya Everett.
Guests at the luncheon heard presentations from board of trustees chairwoman Linda Marcelli, head of school Leanne Byrne and trustee Dimity Carlson.
Academy Prep, a nonprofit preparatory school, educates boys and girls in grades 5 through 8, teaching social skills and personal responsibility along with academics.
Members of the selection committee, along with Carlson and Marcelli, were Carol Fisher, Darlene Grayson, Lynda Jollay and Jill St. Louis.
Mary Hilton Cross, Hennessy Construction Services, and Dr. Thomas and Jeanne Campbell were recognized at the annual Legacy Dinner presented by St. Anthony's Hospital Foundation at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park.
Cross, a longtime volunteer, member of the hospital auxiliary and the Anthonians support group and a charter member of the foundation board, received the Roy G. Harrell Jr. Leadership Award.
Hennessy Construction Services, which has built numerous iconic buildings in St. Petersburg, received the Helen D. Roberts Philanthropy Award acknowledging its contributions to numerous community agencies and organizations, including St. Anthony's. Barbara Hennessy, widow of the late Tom Hennessy, Missy and Tom Hennessy, two of their children, and Mark Stalker, a vice president, attended the event.
The Campbells received the Hippocrates Award, given to a physician or medical practice that demonstrates selflessness and dedication to the community, is dedicated to improving patient care and to making medical services more available to underserved communities.