March 10, 2010

Reveling in 40 years of friendship

— Brazil Night celebrated a longtime link between sister states. Forty years ago, under the auspices of Partners of the Americas, Maine formed an alliance with Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. Together, the states sponsor such projects as trade missions, cultural events and business seminars.

Founding members of the Maine chapter were honored at an anniversary party held in the McKernan Conference Center at Southern Maine Community College. Faye Luppi, emcee, introduced several ''partners'' who shared memories about the organization.

Shep Lee mentioned his family's student exchange with the Guedes family of Brazil. Wes Bonney spoke about his visit to the sister state with his wife, Elaine, and their daughter Melissa, who was a teenager at the time. Among others speaking to the group were May Hiebert, Charles Harriman and Steve Simonds. Steve and his wife, Judy, along with Al and Lois Howlett, organized the event.

Getulio and Lucia Nobrega were special guests from Rio Grande do Norte. He described current events in Brazil and activities in his chapter. Barbara Bloch brought a message from the Partners national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Chefs and students of the SMCC Culinary Arts School prepared dinner with a Brazilian flare. Buffet offerings included camarao com leite de coco (shrimp in coconut milk) and sirloin with chipotle lime (beef with jalapeno peppers and lime). After-dinner ''exercise'' was samba dancing led by Lois Howlett.

Future plans call for Faye Luppi to lead some Mainers to Natal, capital of the southern state, to direct a Domestic Violence Seminar. Accompanying her will be Lois Galgay Reckitt, Shawn LaGraga and Cathy Lee.


''Celebrating Life'' was a dinner and fashion show presented by the Auxiliary to Mercy Hospital. Models on the runway were cancer survivors, as well as health-care workers at the hospital. All proceeds from the event at the Marriott Hotel will benefit Mercy's Oncology- Hematology Center.

Sarah Dorsey and Janet Robinson co-chaired the fashionable affair. Linda England decorated the dining tables with peonies gathered from Janet's garden. Guests were welcomed by Eileen Skinner, Mercy president and CEO, and Julie Morin, Auxiliary president. Among the group's accomplishments this year was the completion of a $250,000 pledge to the Mercy at the Fore capital campaign.

Deb LeMons and Julie Morin alternated as fashion commentators. Black and white colors predominated as each model came into view. Dr. Melinda Molin strolled onstage in a black sheath with matching scarf. Donna Hooper displayed a shimmery black and white jacket over a black jumpsuit. Margo Keeley's outfit was topped with a black and white cropped jacket.

The well-dressed Bryand family arrived together: Michael and Gilda with youngsters Vivian and Jonah. Male models favored casual styles, especially David Hansen. He chose a lime green sweater, jeans and flip-flops. Dressier menswear was shown by Derek Robertshaw, Dr. Henry Talarico, Robert Doyle and Charles Keogh.

Joan Lavery-McLaughlin was stunning in a skintight red gown. Pam Harwood chose a print dress in summer colors of teal and blue. Others rating applause were Maura Kilgallen, Laurie Hyndman, Lori MacWhinnie, Tammie Cook and Robin Wright.


They came to roast him, not to toast him. The object of their disaffection was Leslie B. Otten, chair of the Cromwell Center and its newly named Person of the Year.

''I'm shocked you'd all come to honor Les,'' joked Jamie Kaplan, executive director of the center that helps people with disabilities receive respect, acceptance and equal opportunities.

Speakers at the Marriott Hotel affair focused on many facets of Otten's professional life. Larry Lucchino, Boston Red Sox CEO and president, said his friend was just ''one of the guys'' when he was affiliated with the club. He noted, ''He's often wrong but never in doubt.''

Bill Ryan, TD Banknorth board chair, couldn't seem to get the honoree's name right. ''Wes,'' he said, ''is different in a lot of ways; he's his own man.''

Then there was Lee Goldberg, WCSH6 sports anchor. He stayed away, but on video Lee and Les were seen dousing each other with champagne when the Red Sox won the pennant in 2004.

Dr. Chip Crothers and Les are the co-founders of Maine Handicapped Skiing. The doctor toasted his good friend and thanked Les for visiting him every day when Chip was in the hospital.

Warren Cook, general manager of Saddleback Maine, insisted Les is a Yankees fan. That might have been true once, according to Les' son, Josh. However, his ''tribute wall'' at home was eventually filled with Sox photos, starting with Ted Williams.

When it was his turn to speak, the Person of the Year admitted, ''This is very humbling.'' Actually, he was as easy on his friends as they were on him. Addressing Crothers, the good doctor and former hospital patient, Les confessed, ''I was trying to sell you a condo.''

When all was said and done, the Cromwell Person of the Year demonstrated his talents as an auctioneer. He quickly disposed of a dozen items, including game tickets, gourmet dinners and getaways.

Natalie Brenner has been observing and writing about the social scene for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 30 years.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)