by Mary Alys Cherry
THE ROTARY Space Gala is always one of the grandest nights of the year for the space community, and this year was no exception as a black tie crowd of some 800 toasted the achievements of 2012.
And, saluted a very special lady, honoree Kay Bailey Hutchison – the former senator from Texas who has done so much for NASA and the Johnson Space Center.
“What are we going to do without her?” was the question on most everyone’s lips as they recalled battle after battle she waged and won for the space industry.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden jetted down from Washington to see her presented the National Space Trophy, as did Congressmen Pete Olson, while former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and his wife, Rebecca, came up from Huntsville, Ala.
All wore big smiles as Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to set foot on the moon and a former National Space Trophy recipient, made the presentation before a glamorous crowd headed by Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa and her husband, attorney Coe Miles, that included Boeing VP and GM John Elbon, United Space Alliance President Virginia Barnes and her husband, Toby; Maj. Gen. (Ret) Joe Engle and his wife, Jeanie; and Lt. Gen. (Ret) Thomas Stafford.
Early arrivals included Jacobs Engineering GM Lon Miller and his wife, Michele; Lockheed Martin VPs Cleon Lacefield and Richard Jackson, with their wives, Janice and Karen, and Richard Hieb; Sierra Nevada President Mark Sirangelo, Rebecca and Orbital Sciences VP Frank Culbertson; Carol and Anadarko Industries President Tom Short; Lori and Oceaneering VP and GM Michael Bloomfield; Honeywell Manager Brett McAlister; John and GeoControl Systems President Rose Zarcaro, Bastion Industries CEO Jorge Hernandez and COO Jayant Ramakrishnan and MRI Technologies partners Tim and Debbie Kropp.
Plus a crowd from JSC including Mission Operations Director Paul Hill and his wife, Pam; Engineering Director Lauri Hansen and her husband, Bob; External Relations Director Mike Kincaid and his wife, Holly; General Counsel Bernie Roan with wife Debbie; Flight Crew Operations Director Janet Kavandi and husband, John; JSC Planning Manager David Leestma and his wife, Patti; and ISS Manager Michael Suffredini, to name a few .
Gala Chairman and RNASA President Rodolfo Gonzalez and his wife, Anangela, were on hand to greet the arriving crowd, along with Space Center Rotary President Marilyn Musial and husband, Wayne, President-elect Sheryl Berg and husband, Stuart; and Rotarians Dr. Jean Walker, Susan and Bill Taylor, Geoff and Vivian Atwater, Ted and Marianne Dyson, Kippy Caraway, Frank and Rosalind Perez, Karen and Gary Johnson, Jordis and Bob Wren, Daryl and Monique Smith, Mike and Tery Hernandez, Scott and Martha Rainey and Joyce and Rotary District Gov. Chris Schneider and District Gov. -elect Bob Gebhard and their wives.
In the crowd were several previous winners of the National Space Trophy — Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford, Tommy Holloway, Dr. Glynn Lunney, Col. Eileen Collins, Gene Kranz, Capt. Eugene Cernan and Dr. Michael Griffin – many with their spouses.
And, a number of astronauts, including Michael Fincke, William McArthur and Andrew Feustel with their wives, Renita, Cindy, Indira; Michael Foreman, Nicole Stoutt with her husband, Chris; Don Pettit, Ron Garan and Michael Fossum with their wives, Michelle, Carmel and Melanie; Lee Morin, Stephanie Wilson and Sandra Magnus.
Glancing around, you might also have spotted HomeTown Bank Senior VP Mike Duckworth and his wife, Barbara; Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell and his wife, Brenda; UH-Clear Lake Business Dean Dr. Ted Cummings and his wife, Leslie; the Brian Lunneys, Kim and Susan Morris, Hank and Helen Hartsfield and Pat and Wendell Wilson.
The Wilsons were pleasantly shocked when JSC engineer Ven Feng’s name was called out as one of the Stellar Award winners. Pat had taught Ven when he was in the second grade at Ed White Elementary in El Lago and had lost track of him and his wife, Dorothea, over the years.
“I was thrilled to be at the banquet and hear his name called–a great surprise!. Wendell always said that one day Ven would be an engineer. Even as a second grader he would ride his bike in Clear Lake Forest to see our home being built, so we called him the “inspector.” Can you imagine a second grader being so interested in that?”
What an exciting get-together that was!
Special birthdays celebrated
TWO WELL KNOWN Bay Area faces found themselves being honored recently as they marked a couple of special birthdays.
The first was in Kemah when former Councilwoman Kelly Williams hosted a houseful of friends to help husband, Paul, celebrate his big 5-0.
A few days later, several friends of long-time community volunteer Martha Ferebee were on hand to help her celebrate her 75th birthday.
Hard workers reap rewards
SEVERAL LUCKY Clear Creek ISD seniors will be heading off to college with $16,000 scholarships provided by the Houston Endowment.
They were among the 320 Houston area students selected by the Houston Rotary Club as Jones Scholars with selection based on academic achievement, leadership skills, economic need, community service and character.
The 15 selected are:
- Clear Springs High – Juan Chen, Syed Q. Hasnain, Rebecca A. Herpin and Haotian Wu;
- Clear Lake High – Sung Kyung Cho, Kevin J. Cyr and Karen H. Yen;
- Clear Falls High – Emily Hansen, Meghan Mistry and Kamiya Randolph;
- Clear Creek High – Milton B. Millard and Rachel M. Petitti;
- Clear Brook High – Burgundy Anderson, Christina W. Chan and John B. Pinard IV.