Monday, Jul 25, 2016
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Barbara Hendel

Opera Guild Holiday Tea presented in elegant setting

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The holidays are here, and what better time to gather with fellow volunteers and community supporters?

DRESSED IN its finest holiday splendor was the lovely waterfront home of Tom and Traci Schwann, who were hosts for the Toledo Opera Guild's annual Holiday Tea Dec. 7.

Ladies in classy suits and dresses and lots of diamonds and fur coats ascended the front steps into a spacious yet warm setting made even more beautiful and inviting with holiday greens and bows. The focal point was a spectacular tree that towered well into the second story.


Traci Schwann, center, with her mother-in-law Grazyna Schwann and father-in-law Stefan Schwann.


The afternoon merriment included tea and coffee served from polished silver pots plus oodles of tasty petite sandwiches - egg, ham, and chicken and tuna salad, watercress, and more - and an endless array of desserts. If that wasn't enough, nuts and chocolates were everywhere, tempting all the dieters.

Liz Koster, who designed the invitations featuring a painting of the Schwann home, played the baby grand piano.

Mrs. Schwann, stunning in a sparkly formed-fitting short dress and stiletto heels, busily helped with the tea while her father-in-law, Stefan Schwann, charmed the guests. Equally delightful was her mother-in-law, Grazyna Schwann. The elder Schwanns, who now live in Long Island, originally are from Poland.

Guild president Barbara Brown, who sported a silver leather tea pot-shaped handbag, welcomed everyone, as did the event chairman, Diane Rusk Disbrow.


Diane Rusk Disbrow with some of the desserts served at the Opera Guild's holiday tea in the home of Tom and Traci Schwann.


Relaxing by windows were longtime volunteers Equilla Roach and twin sister Druscilla Griffin.

Several board members were present, including Peggy Crook, Linda McBee, Sharon Lynch, Pauline Tate, Jan Comer, and past president Jean Smith, in a great-looking gold leather jacket. Missed was Lee Murray, who was home with a cold.

Chatting the afternoon away were Mary Madigan, Ann Galloway, Cookie Westmeyer, Sarah Bertram, Cindy Niggemyer, Valerie Garforth, Faye Fenwick, Karen DeNune, Yvonne Cothern, Phyllis Cauffiel, and Joanne McElheny. Patty Byrne came inside to warm up a bit and get some "fuel" before heading out again for her volunteer job as traffic cop for all the women. Sandra Honemann and Peggy Crook joined in the singing of carols.

Looking especially elegant was Barbara Baker, an association trustee, in a blonde fur coat.

The weather outside was frightful after such a warm afternoon. Marianne Ballas was chilled as she hurried back to the office in her short skirt and fur cape. Mrs. Ballas is president-elect of the Opera Association board. This year's association board president is Hussein Shousher.

The guild, founded in 1962, was run by president Ellie Baker, who now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The Toledo Opera Association, founded in 1959, will present From Russia with Love, the annual Valentine's Day performance Feb. 10 at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, followed by a gala party, according to Renay Conlin, director. But for those who want a sneak peek, the guild is planning a luncheon Jan. 31 at the Toledo Club, where a few of the opera stars will perform.

FRIENDS of Toledo Day Nursery hosted its Holiday Buffet Tuesday at Inverness Club. Adding to the fun was entertainment by the Ottawa Hills High School Choraliers. But members still had the children at the nursery on their minds: They brought hats, gloves, mittens, and boots to take to donate.

A PURR-FECTLY wonderful holiday party with friends of the Toledo Animal Shelter was Dec. 7 at Brandywine Country Club.


Barbara Brown 'pours' a cup of tea from her leather tea pot-shaped purse.


Guests enjoyed cocktails and dinner as Tom Szor played Christmas carols and other favorites on the grand piano. Greeting guests were board members Bill Coine and Jeff Millns, chairmen of the event. Also welcoming everyone was the shelter's new executive director, Helen Bensch.

The mirrored dining room was especially festive because Mr. Millns, who owns Cooper Florist, did centerpieces for all 14 tables with greens and sparkling glass hurricane lamps and candles.

Among the board members present were president Jack Fynes, there with wife Pam, Barney Stickles, Pat Hunter and husband Stu, Mike Myers and wife Joan, David Boudouris and wife Rosanne, Marshall Isenberg and wife Kathy, Jean Smith, and newest member Allan Timmerman and wife Pat.

Also, George Riser, Stephanie White with husband George Van Sickle, and Ms. White's mom, Dana White.

Guests included Al and Shirley Churchill, Steve Serchuk, Barbara Stickney, Marge Allen, Sandy Isenberg, John Vance, Jack and Cindy Niggemyer, Ginny Selan, Jackie Rouseau-Werner, Bob and Sammy Woodgeard of Bryan, Ohio, John Donofrio, and Jane Hartman, past president and recently retired board member.

Also enjoying the evening were Sue Lovett and Howard Wittmer, Marge Myers, and auxiliary president Nancy Ligibel, who presented the shelter with a check for $7,000 from the auxiliary.

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