The red carpet was rolled out Thursday as Block Communications, Inc., the family firm celebrating its centennial, took over the Toledo Club for a gala reception. There were red roses in silver vases, candlelight, music, and a buffet of gourmet edibles on silver trays.
Descendants of company founder Paul Block - his son, William, and grandsons, William, Jr., John Robinson, and Allan Block - have been hosts at a series of parties in cities across the country where BCI has one of its 16 newspaper, cable, broadcast, telecommunications, and Internet companies.
Because today's company began in New York, Manhattan's swank 21 Club was the perfect spot for a big gala. In Toledo, where the senior Paul Block purchased The Blade in 1926, BCI already has thrown a big bash for employees at the Toledo Zoo. Other party sites include Pittsburgh, Lima, O., Louisville, and Boise, Idaho.
Also in honor of the company centennial, the owners last summer changed the name from Blade Communications, Inc., to Block Communications, Inc.
At last Thursday's gala, hundreds of community movers and shakers filled the Toledo Club with energy and congratulations.
John Robinson Block, executive vice president of BCI, wearing his signature bow tie, remarked that a newspaper has to gain the public trust and be as honest as possible. “It has a soul,” he added.
William Block, Jr., president, and Allan Block, vice chairman of BCI, welcomed guests. Remembered was Paul Block, Jr., publisher of The Blade from 1944 to 1987.
Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner presented a glass key to the family and kept guests laughing: “Do I always like what the Blade prints? ... You know the answer to that ... of course I do.” He went on to say that the Blade is where the spirit of the community can be found.
Among those attending were descendents of founding families including John and Vonda Spitzer and Patrice and Lyman Spitzer. Lucas County treasurer Ray Kest noted that four generations of his family have worked at The Blade. New Blade general manager, Tom Pounds, made the rounds, greeting local leaders.
Chester Denevow said, “It's a credit to Toledo to have this great organization based here.”
Guests received a silver letter opener and an abridged version of the Paul Block biography, due for publication in 2001.
The senior William Block, chairman of BCI, glowed with a continuous smile as he remarked, “Toledo is still the home, and will remain so - it's close to our hearts. You're all invited to the next 100 years!”
The Mobile Meals Wine Gala at Stranahan Great Hall Saturday boomed with wine sampling, a candlelit dinner, auctions, and dancingSome 470 hearty partiers clapped to the Maxx band's serenades, from Irish favorites to the “Roll Out the Barrel” polka. Mike O'Neill even did a jig.
New Mobile Meals president Maureen Stevens was there. Kathy Maxwell was recognized for volunteerism. New Toledo public schools superintendent Dr. Eugene Sanders mingled.
Meanwhile, guests at the Toledo Dental Society alliance Harvest Dinner met in Blissfield for a fun evening at the historic Hathaway House. Illusionist Andrew Martin entertained during cocktails. A scrumptious meal followed.
Seen were Darla and Chris Clark, Darlene and Cary Dunne, Michele and Pete McGowan, Beth and Don McGowan, and Teresa and Bruce Atkinson.
The Towne Club Luncheon/Style show on Thursday at Inverness Club was an all-day affair in the name of charity. “Down on the Farm” started with cards in the morning followed by a social hour and lunch with tunes by Kerry Clark, and ended with a fashion show. Roxanne Graham coordinated the event with Sharon Lynch
A preview party for the Gingerbread Family Festival to benefit the Family Child Abuse and Prevention Center was Thursday in the home of Debbie and John Joslin. The festival includes a Nov. 11 extravaganza at Franklin Park Mall, judging Nov. 18, the public display Nov. 24-Dec. 31, and the Gala on Nov. 19, all in the Children's Wonderland at Lucas County Recreation Center.
Seen were president Susan Eriksen and her husband Dave, Bill and Judy Reber, Rick Risner, Larry and Luann Croy, Nan and Jack Chezek, Jane Durham, Dick Evens, Cathy and Tom Furey, Barb and Dave Mang, Marti Zarkower, Tom and Vicky Bartlett, and general chairman Alyce Juby and her husband, Jeff. Also seen were founder Bernard Cullen and his wife, Genny.
The Visiting Nurse Foundation, which celebrates its centennial next year, kicked-off its annual giving campaign last Thursday with a party in the McMaster Center of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library downtown.
The 49th Annual Ursuline Benefit Dinner, www.cometoCancun.com, on Friday at Gladieux Meadows hopped with excitement as the end of the tropical evening drew near. It wasn't that the auctions, and dinner weren't enough fun, but as names were called for the reverse raffle prize - $10,000 or a Cancun trip raffle - excitement grew. Lucky winners were Joe Colturi and former Toledoans Tom and Gigi Jetton.
Seen were the LaValley, Schoen, and Wheeler families plus Joe and Bonnie Coyle, Jeanette and Wally Iott, Larry and Anita Boyer, Sue Zurawski, Marcia and Mark Rubini, and Gene Wos and his family, Sue and Craig Trares and Chuck and Judy Baumgartner. Elizabeth Zepf and Ann Galloway marked their 49th year at the event. Chairman Mark Guess was assisted by Steve Stanford, president Jim Strausser, General Superior Sr. Nancy Mathias, and a vast committee.
The Guy Fawkes Ball, a high point of Detroit's fall social season, was Saturday evening at the Townsend Hotel, Birmingham. More than 300 hobnobbers paid $300 per person for the dinner dance, and more than 100 paid more than $75 to attend the Afterglow. The event, rich with autumn hues was to benefit Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum and presented by the Women's Committee.
Barbara Hendel is The Blade's society editor. E-mail her at email@example.com.