America Loses a Legend With Death of Chris Kraft

August 1st, 2019

By Mary Alys Cherry

Those were the words of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein as he announced the passing of the legendary Chris Kraft, who was not only NASA’s first flight director, but a man who played a key role in helping build the Johnson Space Center and create the concept of Mission Control, which is housed in the building aptly named the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center.

Kraft died Monday, July 22, just two days after America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon, which he helped direct. He was 95.

“Chris was one of the core team members that helped our nation put humans in space and on the Moon, and his legacy is immeasurable,” Bridenstein said. His engineering talents were put to work for our nation at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, before NASA even existed, but it was his legendary work to establish mission control, as we know it, for the earliest crewed space flights that perhaps most strongly advanced our journey of discovery.

“Chris was flight director at some of the most iconic moments of space history, as humans first orbited the Earth and stepped outside of an orbiting spacecraft. For his work, he was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal by President John F. Kennedy. Chris later led the Johnson Space Center, known then as the Manned Spacecraft Center, as our human exploration work reached for new heights following the Apollo Program. We stand on his shoulders as we reach deeper into the solar system, and he will always be with us on those journeys.”

Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr. joined the NASA Space Task Group in November 1958 as NASA’s first flight director, with responsibilities that immersed him in mission procedures and challenging operational issues.

During the Apollo program, he became the director of Flight Operations, responsible for all human spaceflight mission planning, training and execution. After serving as deputy director of the center for three years, he was named JSC director in January 1972 – a post he held until his retirement in August 1982, playing a vital role in the success of the final Apollo missions, the Skylab crewed space station, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and the first flights of the space shuttle.

Kraft was born Feb. 28, 1924 in Hampton, Va. After high school, he enrolled at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI, now Virginia Tech) and enrolled in mechanical engineering in 1941 but later decided to major in aeronautical engineering. In 1944, he graduated with one of the first degrees in that field awarded by the Institute and was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor organization to NASA. He worked for over a decade in aeronautical research before being asked in 1958, when NASA was formed, to join the Space Task Group, a small team entrusted with the responsibility of putting America’s first man in space.

Kraft was invited by Robert Gilruth to become a part of a new group that was working on the problems of putting a man into orbit. Without much hesitation, he accepted the offer. When the Space Task Group was officially formed on Nov. 5, Kraft became one of the original 35 engineers to be assigned to Project Mercury, America’s man-in-space program.
As a member of the Space Task Group, Kraft was assigned to the flight operations division, which made plans and arrangements for the operation of the Mercury spacecraft during flight and for the control and monitoring of missions from the ground.

Since his retirement from NASA, Kraft has consulted for numerous companies including IBM and Rockwell International, served as a Director-at-Large of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Board of Visitors at Virginia Tech. In 2001, he published an autobiography entitled “Flight: My Life in Mission Control.” His book is a detailed discussion of his life through the end of the Apollo program, and was a New York Times bestseller.

He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal; four NASA Distinguished Service Medals; the Distinguished Alumnus Citation from Virginia Tech, in 1965; and the John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award for 1996. In 1999, he was presented the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement for which he was cited as “A driving force in the U.S. human space-flight program from its beginnings to the Space Shuttle era, a man whose accomplishments have become legendary.”

Chris Kraft married his high school sweetheart, Betty Anne Turnbull, in 1950. They have a son and a daughter, Gordon and Kristi-Anne.

Clear Lake Chatter: FLIGHT MUSEUM BLUE SKIES GALA RAISES $700,000

August 1st, 2019

Ellington Airport General Manager Arturo Manchuca and his wife, Myrna, look for their table at the Blue Skies Gala.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS from both air and space contributed more than $700,000 at this year’s “Moonstruck: 2019 Blue Skies Gala,” to support STEM-related programs and the Lone Star Flight Museum at Ellington Field.

Held at The Revaire on Old Katy Road in Houston, the black-tie event drew a crowd of more than 500 supporters of the Lone Star Flight Museum’s educational mission.
KPRC-TV Ch. 2 meteorologist

Khambrel Marshall emceed the event with board member Ralph Thomas and his wife,Bette,as co-chairmen and Houston philanthropist Margaret Alkek Williams as honorary gala chairman.

Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, a former astronaut, and museum board member, joined Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Doug Owens, museum president and CEO, and Scott Rozzell, chairman of the board of directors, in recognizing special guest Gene Kranz and others who played a key role in the Apollo space program.

An inductee in the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, Krantz was a flight director during the Apollo 13 mission when the spacecraft experienced a malfunction but was safely guided back to earth. Krantz attended the gala, in part, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program and the first manned mission to land on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Flight Museum youth ambassador Marshall Calderon, from left, visits with former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz and Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, former astronaut and museum board member.

Gala patrons included the greater Houston area’s prominent philanthropists, business leaders, elected and appointed government officials, pilots, astronauts, students and others who share the belief that aviation inspires endless possibilities.

“This amazing event,” General Owens told the crowd, was made possible by the generous support of our gala co-chairs, our gala planning committee, and the gala host committee along with underwriters, table sponsors and ticket holders. I also want to thank our amazing volunteers and staff members who dedicate their time and talent day in and day out to the mission of our museum. We are committed to celebrating flight and achievements in Texas aviation as well as educating and engaging our youth through STEM, and the support we received through this amazing gala will allow us to continue with those efforts.”

Guests were treated to assorted wines, champagne, cocktails, and a gourmet three-course dinner and dancing to the music of the Richard Brown Orchestra.

Located at Ellington Airport, just 20 minutes from downtown Houston, LSFM is open Tuesday-Sunday and seven days a week all summer long. Tickets start at $9.95 with senior and military discounts. For details, visit lonestarflight.org or call 346-708-2517.

 

Guendaliwa Rotito, Maria Sumner and Missy Rorrer, from left, make a pretty picture as they mingle with the crowd at the Bay Area Museum Guild Silver Tea.

Museum Guild members a busy crowd

IF YOU RUN INTO members of the Bay Area Museum Guild this summer, and they look a bit tired, they probably are.

For them, it has been a busy spring that included four events — the annual Silver Tea, picnic, wine tasting and installation luncheon.

Many prepared food and punch for the events, while others made preparations in the museum, lining up helpers, etc. — all in an effort to brighten up our community, as they have been doing for the past 35 years.

 

Silver Tea honors Webster church

USUALLY, the Museum Guild honors some well known person at its annual Silver Tea. But this year, the Guild recognized Webster Presbyterian Church, which has been a part of the Bay Area for 126 years, showing off items from the original church – a part of which became Bay Area Museum when the new church was built back in the 80s.

Tea Co-Chairmen Jill Smitherman and Belinda Scheurich were at the door to welcome the dozens and dozens, including many Lunar Rendezvous princesses and lieutenants, who dropped by to sample the array of savories and sweets and the punch served up by Louise Russell, Diana Dornak, Cindy Kuenneke, Badiha Nassau, Gail Devens and Sally Jordan.
Among the many dropping by, we spotted Judy Raiford, Mary Williams, Michelle Holland, Kim Woods, Mary Ann Baxter, Missy Rorrer, Maria Summer, Karen McCorkle, Shirley Brasseaux, Angie Weinman, Anita Fogtman, Jill Reason and Ava Galt, to name a few.

Business Buzz

August 1st, 2019

Port Houston Commission Chairman Ric Campos, second from left, arrives at the Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership reception in his honor at the Marriott Hotel on the Gulf Freeway. Among those welcoming him were, from left, BayTran Chairman Carl Joiner and Lockwood Andrews Vice President Steve Gilbreath and Facilities Engineer Jack Drake.

BayTran welcomes new port chairman
Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership members got a rare treat when they hosted a reception recently for the new chairman of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority, Ric Campo.

BayTran President Theresa Rodriguez and Chairman Carl Joiner introduced him to the crowd.

The event was held at the Houston Marriott South, where Campo made his way around the room during a Meet and Greet, after which he updated the crowd on Port activities.
Campo, who is chairman and CEO of the Camden Property Trust, was appointed by Harris County and the Houston City Council earlier this year to replace Janiece Longoria, who was term limited.

NASA selects 142 proposals
Managing pilotless aircraft and solar panels that could help humans live on the Moon and Mars are among the technologies NASA is looking to develop with small business awards totaling $106 million. In all, NASA has selected 142 proposals from 129 U.S. small businesses from 28 states and the District of Columbia to receive Phase II contracts as part the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

NASA selected the proposals based on a range of criteria, including technical merit and feasibility, as well as the organizations’ experience, qualifications, and facilities. Additional criteria included effectiveness of proposed work plans and the commercial potential of the technologies.

Three Kuraray facilities win safety awards
Three of Kuraray America, Inc.’s Texas facilities received top honors from the Texas Chemical Council at its annual award banquet June 6. They are:

  • Septon Plant, Pasadena: Best in Texas, Caring for Texas, Distinguished Safety Service, Zero Incident Rate, Zero Process Safety Incidents.
  • Bayport Plant, La Porte: Zero Incident Rate, Distinguished Safety Service, Zero Contractor Incident Rate.
  • La Porte Plant: Caring for Texas, Zero Process Safety Incidents.

TCC’s awards program recognizes member companies for their demonstrated commitment and exemplary results toward safe operations, community awareness, emergency response, security and pollution prevention. Applications are anonymous and judged by a group of industry peers and community members.

“At Kuraray, safety is at the cornerstone of everything we do,” said Tom Abrey, Kuraray’s director of health, safety, environment & security. “We are committed to providing a safe working environment for not only our employees but contractors and visitors alike.”

Kuraray America, Inc. took home 10 awards, including top honor – Best in Texas – for the Septon plant.

Area chamber is a winner
Pasadena Chamber’s website, Chambergram, took first prize honors at the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives annual convention in El Paso June 17-20.

Not far behind were its entry in the newsletter competition, which took second place in the state competition, and the chamber’s Resource Guide, which also was a second place winner.

The conference provides chamber professionals an opportunity to network, attend educational sessions and take an in-depth look into issues related to leadership, workforce development, membership and how Texas communities fared following the legislative session.

Clear Lake Chatter: Assistance League Marks 25th Anniversary

July 2nd, 2019

Assistance League of the Bay Area officers for 2019-2020 line up for a photo at the year-end awards luncheon Tuesday, May 28. They are, from right, President Lisa Holbrook, President-elect Brooks Cima, Secretary Betty Stoub and Treasurer Sandra Kelver. Charlene Donovan, Brunella Altemus, Kathleen Courville and Cathy Wolfe will serve as vice presidents.

The 2019 Sue Brady Award for leadership was presented to Cathy Wolfe, left, by last year’s winner, Kathleen Courville, at the Assistance League year-end luncheon at Red River Bar-B-Que.

ASSISTANCE LEAGUE members introduced their officers for the coming year and passed out awards to several members for their work when they met May 28 at Red River Bar-B-Que In League City for their annual year-end luncheon.

Lisa Holbrook will serve as president with Brooks Cima as president-elect. New vice presidents are Charlene Donovan, membership; Brunella Altemus, philanthropic programs; Kathleen Courville, resource development; and Cathy Wolfe, operations.

Other officers are Betty Stoub, secretary; Sandra Kelver, treasurer, Sharon Dillard, parliamentarian; Sharon Guzzino, marketing chairman; Beverly Braden, strategic planning; Betty Suagee, education chairman; and Karen Douglass, Assisteens liaison.

Outgoing President Sarah Foulds summarized some of the massive amount of work members had accomplished this past year as they celebrated their 25th anniversary as a chapter and their 31st year of serving the Bay Area community, including the return of more than $307,000 to the community through philanthropic programs this past year.

Their work included Operation School Bell that provided clothing and shoes for 2,733 needy students in the Clear Creek, Dickinson, Friendswood, Galveston and La Porte school districts and Odyssey Academy; providing 84 senior girls and 53 boys with prom attire and shoes and clothing for 261 Dickinson students who were Harvey victims; distributing 190 assault survivor kits to Bay Area Turning Point and UTMB-Galveston for crime victims; and sponsoring eye exams and glasses for needy students; and helping 30 unemployed individuals seek employment by providing job interview clothing.

Cathy Wolfe was presented the Sue Brady Award and Brunella Altemus went home with the Sue Holstein Award, while Jill Williams, Charlene Donovan and Ann Hammond were A.B.C.D. Award winners for service Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. Charlotte Teeter was the winner of the Anne Banning Lee Leadership Award and the H.O.P.E. Award went to Frank and Sons.

Earlier in May, they celebrated their 25th anniversary at Bay Area Museum with dozens of members dropping by to reminisce about their work and all the fun through the years.

Panhellenic’s past presidents, all dressed in white for their year-end luncheon, sit for a picture together. They are, from left, standing, Peggy Clause, Sue Ellen Jennings, Barbara Dickey, Laurie Vaughn, Ondi Lyon, Jill Reason, Michelle Richardson, Kim Barker, Diane Overman; seated, Judie Raiford, Kay Lee Benoit, Hazel Herron, D’Lisa Johnston, Ruth Beecher and Judy Ferguson.

Panhellenic ends year on happy note

CLEAR LAKE PANHELLENIC members ended their year on a colorful note with all members dressed in yellow in honor of outgoing President D’Lisa Johnston, and all past presidents wearing white.

Besides saying farewell to one another as the summer break approached, they also awarded $8,000 scholarships ($2,000 annually for four years) to a half dozen graduating senior girls — – Alyssa Gonzalez, Zamira Harris-Ryden, Lauren Lueking, Trinity Rust, Tiffany Sakahra and Mckinley Young – and presented Panhellenic’s Citation Award to Karen Douglas and D’Lisa Johnston.

Another highlight of the luncheon at Water’s Edge on NASA Parkway in El Lago came when officers for the 2019-2020 year were installed – President Sheryl Williams, First Vice President Darla McKitrick, Second Vice President Becky Hensley, Third Vice President Mackenzie Walker, Treasurer Lisa O’Brien, Secretary Kathryn Vernau, Corporation Kelsey McNeil and Parliamentarian D’Lisa Johnson.

Clear Lake Panhellenic officers for 2019-2020 get together for a photo. They are, from right, President Sheryl Williams, First Vice President Darla McKitrick, Second Vice President Becky Hensley, Third Vice President Mackenzie Walker, Treasurer Lisa O’Brien, Secretary Kathryn Vernau, Corporation Kelsey McNeil and Parliamentarian D’Lisa Johnson.

Buzz began turning out books after return from Moon surface

July 2nd, 2019

Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Buzz Aldrin was one of the first two men to step on the eerie surface of the Moon and probably the most brilliant. Yet, for a number of years he felt short changed because he wasn’t No. 1. He just didn’t like being No. 2 at anything. And besides, his mother’s name was Marion Moon.

He almost had the No. 1 slot until a higherup at Johnson Space Center reportedly decided Neil Armstrong would be the better choice for the role of commander, whose job was to safely land the lunar module between the many boulders on the surface of the moon. And, some years later, Buzz let it go and became content with his role.

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., now 89, was born on Jan. 20, 1930, at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, N.Y. His parents lived in neighboring  Montclair, N.J.

His father served as an Army aviator during World War I and the assistant commandant of the Army’s test pilot school at McCook Field, Ohio, before becoming an executive at Standard Oil.[3]  His nickname, which became his legal first name in 1988, came about as a result of one of his two sisters mispronouncing “brother” as “buzzer,” which the family shortened to “Buzz.”

His sense of competitiveness started when he was a child. He did well in school, maintaining an A average.[9] He played football and was the starting center for Montclair High School’s undefeated 1946 state champion team before attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Aldrin entered West Point in 1947, finishing first in his plebe class. On June 5, 1951, he graduated third in the class of 1951 with a B.S.in Mechanical Engineering, after which he served in the Air Force, shooting down two MIG-15s while flying 66 combat missions during the Korean War and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross,

Soon afterwards he enrolled in Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his Doctorate of Science in Astronautics, writing his thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous.
When he was selected by NASA in 1963 in the third group of astronauts, Aldrin was the first with a doctorate and became known as “Dr. Rendezvous.” The docking and rendezvous techniques he devised for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit became critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and are still used today. He pioneered underwater training techniques to simulate spacewalking. In 1966 on the Gemini 12 orbital mission, he set a new EVA record of 5 1⁄2 hours.

An elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, Aldrin privately took communion there in the Sea of Tranquility, becoming the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon.
Upon leaving NASA in 1971, he became commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School but soon retired from the Air Force in 1972, after 21 years of service.

Over the years he has written a number of books. His autobiographies Return to Earth, (1973) and Magnificent Desolation (2009), recount his struggles with clinical depression and alcoholism in the years after leaving NASA. He continued to advocate for space exploration, particularly a human mission to Mars, and developed the Aldrin cycler, a special spacecraft trajectory that makes travel to Mars possible using less time and propellant.

In his book, Men From Earth, he not only gives a vivid account of the dramatic descent into the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, down to the last four seconds, he uses recently declassified documents to show just how close the Soviets were to beating us to the lunar surface while taking readers step by step on the long, arduous journey to get to the moon.
He has been accorded numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, and is listed in several Halls of Fame.

In 2018 Aldrin was involved in a legal dispute with two of his children, Andrew and Janice, and former business manager Christina Korp over their claims that he was mentally impaired through dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The situation ended when his children withdrew their petition and he dropped the lawsuit in March 2019, just before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

Following the 2012 death of his Apollo 11 colleague, Neil Armstrong, Aldrin said that he was “deeply saddened by the passing…I know I am joined by many millions of others from around the world in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew…I had truly hoped that on July 20, 2019, Neil, Mike and I would be standing together to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our moon landing.”

After living for a number of years in the Los Angeles area, he sold his condominium and at last report was living in Satellite Beach, Fla.

Even Capt. Kirk was there for 2019 RNASA Space Gala

June 1st, 2019

David Thompson, left, retired CEO of Orbital ATK, is presented the 2019 National Space Trophy by Northrup Grumman Space Systems Group President Frank Culbertson at the RNASA Space Gala April 26 at the Houston Hyatt Regency.

HAPPY STORIES make for happy evenings, and stories rarely are happier than that of David Thompson, recipient of the 2019 National Space Trophy, who turned a boyhood filled with small rocket launches into the formation of a well known aerospace company.

And, looking around at smiles on the faces of the black-tie crowd of nearly 750 at the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation Gala April 26, it was evident they were all happy for him as former astronaut and Orbital Sciences Senior Vice President Frank Culbertson presented the award and another former astronaut and Space Trophy winner, Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Stafford, presented him with an Omega watch.

Boeing Site Director Mark Mulqueen and his wife, Dawn, right, stop for a photo with United Launch Alliance COO John Elbon and his wife, Brenda, at the Rotary Space Gala, held Friday, April 26 at the Downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Thompson, retired president and CEO of Orbital ATK, along with two Harvard Business School classmates, founded Orbital Sciences Corp., in the early 80s. Later, it grew to become Orbital ATK, which last year was purchased by Northrop Grumman for a mere $9 billion.

Film star William Shatner, who you knew as Star Trek’s Capt. James Kirk, was an honored guest and recipient of RNASA’s Space Communicator Award. Unfortunately, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein had to cancel his visit the day before the gala.

After RNASA Chairman Rodolfo Gonzalez welcomed the crowd, saying that “the foundation’s mission is to encourage, recognize, honor, and celebrate U.S. space achievement. The members of the foundation truly appreciate the enormity of the work that is represented by tonight’s audience,” and dinner featuring Petite Filet of Beef and Crab Cakes, the smiling crowd cheered as astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Dr. Shannon Walker passed out marble Stellar Awards to several dozen of our best and brightest – a ceremony that has become known as the space industry’s Academy Awards.

And, what a crowd it was, filling up the giant Houston Hyatt Regency Ballroom. Folks like former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer, Glenn Research Center Director Janet Kavandi, JSC Deputy Director Vanessa Wyche and Engineering Director Kevin Window, Barrios Technology CEO Sandra Johnson and President Robert McAfoos, Boeing Houston Site Director Mark Mulqueen and Vice President Jim Chilton and Lockheed Martin Vice President Dr. Mike Hawes, along with their spouses.

Glancing around, you might also have spotted Jacobs GM Lon Miller, MEI Technologies CEO David Cazes, Oceaneering Vice President and GM Mike Bloomfield, United Launch Alliance COO John Elbon, Bastion Technologies CEO Jorge Hernandez, MRI Technologies President and VP Debbie and Tim Kropp, Dynetics CEO David King, KBRwyle President Byron Bright and Senior VP Dr. Vernon McDonald, ERC Manager Darryl Smith, Ares Vice Presidents Dr. Jimmy Young and Bill Wessel, SAIC Vice President David Nuckles, Aerojet Rocketdyne VP Scott Ward and Leidos Manager Wes Tarkington – many with their wives.

RNASA Foundation Chairman Rodolfo Gonzalez and his wife, Anangela, wear big smiles as the Space Gala comes to an end.

After dinner, the program kicked off with a year-in-review film by Space City Films, after which NASA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Communications Bob Jacobs welcomed honored guest William Shatner, best known for his role as Capt. James Kirk of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, saying that “I know his work has touched everyone in this room…And it inspired most people here to do what they’re doing today.”

Shatner shared his thoughts about mankind’s hunger for adventure this way, “what is inside our heads that compels us to set forth on the precipice of existence? For what? Is it ego? Is it pride? Is it a death wish? Is it the sense of adventure that propels the human spirit into unfamiliar modes, into life threatening environments because the challenge is there? Is it humanity’s need to experience the unknown to grasp it, embrace it, absorb the experience as only a human can? Yeah, the challenge of life over death, that’s it.”

Former Space Trophy winners Tommy Holloway, Glenn Lunney and Eileen Collins were in the crowd, as was retired JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, who came down from Idaho to see all her old pals.

Other familiar faces included Aviation Weekly Editor Mark Carreau, Clear Lake Chamber Chairman Brian Freedman, well known retirees Pat and Wendell Wilson, Leslie and Ted Cummings and Eleanor and Arnie Aldrich, plus astronauts Richard Hieb, Randolph Bresnik, Scott Altman, Mark Polansky, Robert and Dr. Megan Behnken, Richard Arnold and Bob Curbeam.

Space Center Rotary members mingling with the crowd included President Nancy Anderson and husband, Robert; President-elect Mike Porterfield and his wife, Cindy; Patty and John Branch, Susan and Bill Taylor, Suzi Howe, Dr. Jean Walker, Scott and Martha Rainey, Stan Galanski, Frank Perez and Priscilla Ennis, Melinda Mintz, Geoff and Vivian Atwater, Karen and Gary Johnson, Clay Boyce, Jordis and Bob Wren, Jeanette and Mark Hollis, Adrienne and Dr. Vissett Sun, along with Rotary District Gov. Carmen Cuneo, Rotary District Gov.-elect Gary Gillen and his wife, Janice; and former Rotary International Vice President Jennifer Jones with her dad, John Jones.

Clear Lake Chatter: Batman, Superman add to the fun at ALBA Gala

May 2nd, 2019

Dr. Wynn McMullen and his wife, Mary, had a great time playing Batman and Cat Woman at the Assistance League Gala at Lakewood Yacht Club.

ASSISTANCE LEAGUE members never fail to bring smiles to our faces with their annual gala, and, this year was no exception with their salute to the Super Heroes, while raising a cool $93,000 to help those in need in our community.

Some of the costumes got more than a smile.

Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith, who is always grateful to the League for all the needy area students League members help each year, got lots of smiles as he arrived all dressed up as Superman. Not wanting to miss a great picture, CCISD Trustee Ann Hammond talked him into posing for a photo. Incidentally, Ann, came dressed as REG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg).

Badiha and Dr. John Nassar and Mary and Dr. Wynn McMullan followed close behind, both couples dressed as Batman and Cat Woman. No, Robin didn’t come. Remember when we used to play the role of Super Heroes? Fun!

League President Sarah Foulds joined Gala Chairman Jill Williams and her husband, Richard Lammers in welcoming the festive crowd to Lakewood Yacht Club, including John and Jill Smitherman, Gene and Eileen Hult, Matthew and Angie Weinman, Jill Reason, Jana Miller and Traci and Richard Dvorak.

Sharon and Dr. Howard Dillard were also in the crowd, as were John Gay and his wife, Becky Reitz, Elaine and Randy Lister, Jim and Jane Sweeney, Lisa Holbrook, Dave and Kim Barker, Emmelind Dodd and Gene Hollier, Gail and Steve Ashby, Kathleen and Mike Courville, Beverly Braden and her husband, Ed Smith, Sara and Dr. Glenn Freedman and recently retired Pam Culpepper and her husband, Peter Cronk.

Mary Pergande was the lucky winner of the Superman Golf Cart in the reverse draw, after which many headed to the dance floor, where they enjoyed the music of Password.

Four inducted into Hall of Fame
FOUR FAMOUS Americans were inducted into the 2019 Texas Aviation Hall of Fame during an Induction Luncheon on Friday, April 12 at the Lone Star Flight Museum at Ellington Field.

The four, selected from 110 candidates, include World War II U.S. Army Air Force Gen. Ira C. Eaker (deceased); Christopher C. Kraft, NASA’s first flight director; H. Ross Perot Jr., an aviation pioneer and entrepreneur who circumnavigated the world in a helicopter at age 23; and Dr. Peggy Whitson, the first woman spacewalker and the astronaut who spent more time in space than any American.

Gene Kranz, who served as a NASA flight director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, was the guest speaker. Chris Kraft, Gene Kranz and Dr. Whitson are all residents of the Bay Area Houston.

Ange Mertens spreads her wings on the runway at the end of the Dogs & Divas Fashion Show at South Shore Harbour Resort.

The Texas Aviation Hall of Fame was established in 1995 through a resolution by the 74th Texas Legislature and signed by then Gov. George W. Bush, to honor Texans and Texas organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to the advancement of aviation.

There are currently 76 individuals and groups in the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, in four categories which include: trailblazers and explorers, wartime aviators, leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Dogs & Divas make for fun times
NOTHING QUITE like turning puppy dogs into fashion models. Yep, you guessed it – they’re cute as can be but mostly scared to death.

Most of the models for the Bay Area Turning Point Dogs & Divas Fashion Show April 4 at South Shore Harbour Resort solved the problem by carrying the pooches down the runway. A few of the canines got brave enough to walk along with their model as the event raised $55,600.

Fashion models included Brenda Weber, Fay Picard, Jill Reason, Deborah Laine, Missy Rorrer and Kelli Williams, Diane and Jim Overman, Tyra Hodge, Brenda Sykes, Kerry Jo Humphrey, Kelli Williams, Jana Miller, Erin Wilrich, Lauren Leal, Susan Heffner, Michelle Holland, Deborah Laine, Jessica Bedore, Doreen Hughes and Blaine Ochoa wearing some beautiful outfits provided by Shoppe Girl, Dress Galaxy, Chico’s, Black House White Market and the BATP Resale Shop, as Executive Director Leigh Ann Fry and Marketing Director Angela Corn could be seen beaming their approval from the sidelines.

Bo Brinkman, right, says hello to Pat and Wendell Wilson as they arrive at the Bay Area Turning Point’s Dogs & Divas Fashion Show Luncheon.

Clear Lake Chatter: Go Red for Women Luncheon raises $225,000

April 1st, 2019

These ladies make a pretty picture as they enjoy the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon at South Shore Harbour Resort in League City. They are, from left, standing, Becky Reitz, Jill Reason, Anita Fogtman; seated, Marcy Fryday, Marsha Taylor, Julie Osburn, Mary Ellen Arledge, Sandra Sellers and Shelley Rogers Scoggin.

IT TOOK A LOT of people forming a sea of red, but the American Heart Association coffers are bulging with some $225,000 raised at the 2019 Go Red for Women Luncheon.
And, what fun it was seeing all the fancy dresses the ladies arrived in and bright red ties the guys wore.

Co-Chairmen Jim and Jane Sweeney couldn’t stop smiling as they mingled with the arriving crowd, as did members of their Leadership team – Tama Brantley McEwen, Sarah Ferguson, Gloria Greene, Santiago Mendoza Jr., Theressa Riggs and Darcy Whatley.All could hardly wait to see the fruits of their work over the previous months.

Likewise for the Event Committee Chairmen Stephanie Rice, Sandy Adams and Laurie Dahse and their volunteers – James Blasczyk, Abbie Contreras, Brandy Gates, Hilary Hart, Kim Keen, Donna Orozco, Mandy Pistone, Teresa Provis, Kelli Reddinger, Elizabeth Quigley, Darcy Santala and Meloney Bean, who also spoke to the audience about surviving heart problems after the luncheon emcee, KPRC Ch. 2’s Jonathan Martinez, welcomed everyone.

Five victims of heart disease, Victoria De La Garza, Kelli Reddinger, Aubrey Allensworth, Carol Firmin and Sarah Weinman, shared their stories of survival for those attending. Sarah, for example, explained how she had won the battle with ovarian cancer only to find that the aggressive chemotherapy regimen had resulted in congestive heart failure. After a 10-year fight, she finally received a heart transplant in April 2018 and is doing well today and looking forward to the future.

Much to the delight of the donors known as Circle of Red members — Audra Bentley, Melaney Bean, Sherri Beisley, Tama Brandley McEwen, Kristie Brown, Laurie Dahse, Emmeline Dodd, Brandy Gates, Karen Keesler, Jane McFaddin, Darcy Santala, Dr. Amber Shamburger, Marilyn Sims, Jill Williams and Darcy Whatley and the Men Go Red members – Earl Armstrong, Brent Cockerham, Lance Dahse, Brad Gerke, Stephen K. Jones Jr., Dr. Monte Orahood, David Smith and Jim Sweeney.

State Sen. Larry Taylor was named the 2019 Iconic Heart Ambassador, winning over Dr. Bill Fisher, CPA Tom Richards and Dr. Selvin Sudhakar.

But the most memorable moment came when Jim and Jane Sweeney took the audience on a ride with them around town via video, singing, making up poems and in general just having a great time as the crowd cheered them on.

Just ask Jill Reason, Marcy Fryday, Becky Reitz, Marsha Taylor, Anita Fogtman, Julie Osburn, Sandra Sellers, Mary Ellen Arledge and Shelley Rogers Scoggin, Dawn Jackson, Jennifer Meekins, Robyn Weigelt, Sumer Dene, Rick Clapp, Amber Sample, Matthew and Angie Weinman or Congressman Randy Weber and his wife, Brenda.

Most can hardly wait until next year.

Astronaut addresses Museum Guild crowd
ASTRONAUT Jeffrey Williams was the speaker for the Bay Area Museum Guild’s monthly meeting at the museum, which was filled with members and their friends who wanted to hear about his space travels.

Colonel Williams, a retired Army officer, is a veteran of four space missions, and for some time held the American record for the most time spent in space, which was surpassed by his fellow astronaut, Peggy Whitson, in 2017.

Guild President Ava Galt, who came with her husband, Taylor Lake Village City Councilman Tony Galt, joined Vice Presidents Louise Russell and Gail Devensin welcoming Colonel Williams and his wife, Ann Marie, and showing them around the museum.

He also got to share his book, The Work of His Hands, A View of God’s Creation from Space, with the crowd, which included Mary and Dr. Terry Williams, Gib and Jan Larson, Sandi Allbritton, the vice presidents’ husbands, John Russell and Don Devens, Dave Kuenneke and son David Jr., Recording Secretary Lois Costinand her husband, Neldon, and Mary Ann Shallberg.

Looking around, you also might have spotted Taylor Lake Village Mayor Pro-tem Einar Goerland and his wife, Linda; Leo and Rose Marie Symmank, Julie Hayes, Cindy Pinson, David and Kandy Johnson, Judith and Michelle Scheuring, Lorie Duval, Roberta Liston, Barry and Betsy Poor, Jackie Myers, Marie Sumner, Ron Lohec, Ric Taylor, Kathy Herman, Gayle Nelson, Cathy Lee and Judy Staliwe.

The night would not be complete without a photo of Rosebud Caradec and CPA Tom Richards, dressed up as a leprechaun for the St. Patrick’s Day Party at Lakewood Yacht Club.

A St. Patty’s Day we’ll remember
ONE OF THE Bay Area’s liveliest St. Patrick’s Day parties no doubt was the one at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, where most everyone was Irish – at least for the night.
There was Irish music and Irish tap dancers to go with a variety of good Irish meals such as corned beef and cabbage –  all of which added up to quite a lively evening.

Popular CPA Tom Richards came dressed as a leprechaun, and everyone wanted a selfie with him – so many in fact, one would have thought he was George Clooney.

Among those who were successful were Lou and Alice Marinos and Jim and Ann O’Malley,who earlier had joined Earl and Barbara Phillips, Barbara’s mother and Mary Alys Cherry for dinner; Jim and Jane Sweeney and Rosebud Caradec.

HCA-affiliated Clear Lake Regional Medical Center gets a new name

March 4th, 2019

Clear Lake Regional Medical Center was rebranded as HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake on Jan. 31.

By Mary Alys Cherry

HCA-affiliated Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster has a new name – HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake.

Officials said the name was changed to better reflect the hospital’s affiliation with one of Houston’s most comprehensive healthcare systems. They gathered at the hospital with League City Mayor Pat Hallisey and officials representing Webster Mayor Donna Rogers to officially launch its new identity.

“Taking the HCA name signals our commitment to be held to the highest standards in the industry,” said Todd Caliva, chief executive officer of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, who also announced upcoming improvements to the hospital, including new VIP labor and delivery suites, a facelift to the women’s services department, major construction to the Emergency Department entrance, two new operating rooms, a major cath lab expansion, and a significant bed expansion.

THIRD CHANGE
Actually, it is the third name change for the medical facility. It started out life as Clear Lake Hospital, but later became known as Humana Hospital-Clear Lake and then as Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.

Fay Dudney, wife of the late Dr. Ned Dudney of League City, who helped turn a dream into a reality, remembered how it all happened when she talked with us back in 2012 as the hospital was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

“Dr. Larry Chapman (who died Dec. 2, 2018) came over from Seabrook to see us, and when he walked in, he said, ‘Ned, I want you to help me build a hospital here in our area.’”
Dudney, who had to put patients in hospitals long distances from their homes, immediately liked the idea, and “soon we sought out physicians all over the area,” Dr. Chapman said as he thought back to those heady days.

Joined by the late Dr. Joe Symon of Friendswood, “the three of us pursued things pretty hard, and before long some 18 to 20 doctors practicing at Bayshore Hospital in Pasadena gave us their blessings. And, their financial backing,” Dr. Chapman recalled.

The group bought a 70-acre tract bounded by State Highway 3 and Texas Avenue in Webster, and on George Washington’s birthday, Feb. 22, 1970, a crowd of 500 gathered for the groundbreaking of the $4.2 million hospital, which opened with 150 beds, but designed to hold 600 beds.

OPENING DAY
A crowd of 3,000 was on hand Sunday, March 12, 1972 for the dedication and opening of Clear Lake Hospital, as it was originally named. But over the years it has grown so much it is barely recognizable in early photographs. A new emergency room was added in 2003, and its $55 million Heart & Vascular Hospital was built across the street in 2007, then expanded in 2010 with a $17 million, 72-room addition that included a pharmacy and dialysis unit.

The hospital grew even larger in 2012 with a $92 million expansion that included a 154,000- square-foot Patient Tower with a 30-bed Intensive Care Unit and a wide range of innovations.

Every year, HCA Houston Healthcare provides care for more than one million hospital patients, more than 450,000 emergency room patients and delivers one in four births in Houston. It currently has more than 16,000 employees, including 6,900 nurses. And, now a new name.

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership honors George P. Bush

March 4th, 2019

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush holds the Quasar Award he was presented at the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s 26th annual Quasar Banquet at South Shore Harbour Resort. With him are, from left, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, 2019 BAHEP Board Chairman Todd Caliva and the 2018 Board Chairman Dr. Brenda Hellyer.

THE BAY AREA’S Movers and Shakers were out in force as the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership honored Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush with its Quasar Award for all his help on the proposed coastal barrier system to protect coastal communities and businesses from storm surge.

San Jacinto College Chancellor and 2018 BAHEP Board Chairman Dr. Brenda Hellyer introduced him to the black-tie crowd of nearly 600 that filled up South Shore Harbour Resort’s Crystal Ballroom, after which Bush called the coastal barrier system, or Ike Dike, “a project that is long past due” and one that will need the backing of everyone. “I’m committed to this project,” he promised the crowd.

Afterwards, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell joined them on stage to introduce the 2019 BAHEP Board Chairman Todd Caliva, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, which started out life as Clear Lake Hospital.

But there was quite a number of missing faces from the Johnson Space Center, which was closed due to the government shutdown. “This is the first time in 25 years,” Mitchell said, “that the JSC center director has not attended this event,” adding that JSC Director Mark Geyer sent his best wishes.

Dozens of elected officials were in the crowd including Congressman Randy Weber, State Sen. Carol Avarado, State Reps. Dr. Greg Bonnen, Ed Thompson, Mayes Middleton and Dennis Paul, Harris County Judge Lina Hildago and Constable Phil Sandlin and Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark and their mates.

Plus, a number of mayors – Pat Hallisey of League City, Julie Masters of Dickinson, Michel Bechtel of Morgan’s Point, Mark Denman of Nassau Bay, Louis Rigby of La Porte and Jon Kenney of Taylor Lake Village – and mayor pro-tems – Andrea Wilson of Webster, Don Matter of Nassau Bay, Todd Kinsey of League City, Jay Martin of La Porte and Teresa Vazquez Evans of Kemah – and their spouses.

City councilors joining the celebration included Dave Martin, David Robinson and Jack Christi of Houston, William King III, Bruce Henderson and Wally Deats of Dickinson, Steve Rockey and Carl Gustafson of Friendswood, Laura Davis and Jeff Larson of Seabrook, Robin Collins of Kemah, Steve Gillett of La Porte, Greg Gripon, Andy Mann and Larry Millican of League City, Thomas Schoenbein of Pasadena, Jonathan Amdur, Ashley Graves, Bryce Klug, John Mahon and Matt Prior of Nassau Bay, and Martin Graves, Beverly Gaines and Edward Lapear of Webster, along with City Managers John Baumgartner of League City, Wayne Sabo of Webster, Jason Reynolds of Nassau Bay and Gayle Cook of Seabrook.

Others introduced included UH-Clear Lake President Dr. Ira Blake, Texas A&M Galveston Vice President Col. Michael Fossum, San Jac Board Chairman Marie Flickinger, CCISD and DISD Superintendents Dr. Greg Smith and Carla Voelkel, Pasadena ISD Vice President Nelda Sullivan and Port Houston Commissioners John Kennedy and Clyde Fitzgerald.

The aerospace industry was well represented with Lockheed Martin VP and Orion Program Manager Dr. Mike Hawes, Boeing Space Station Program Manager Mark Mulqueen, MEI Technologies CEO David Cazes, Barrios President Robert McAfoos, Jacobs VP and GM Lon Miller, GB Tech President Gale Burkett, Leidos Division Manager Nan Hardin, Cimarron Software CEO Jeannie Crowell and President Darren Crowell, MRI Technologies President and VP Debbie and Tim Kropp, KBRwyle President Vernon McDonald and VP Genie Bopp, Oceaneering VP and GM Mike Bloomfield and astronaut Bonnie Dunbar in the mix.

League City Chamber President Steve Paterson and Chairman Rebecca Lilley were in the crowd as were Clear Lake Chamber President Cindy DeWease and Chairman Brian Freedman, Amoco Credit Union President Shawn Bailey, attorneys Joe Barlow, Craig Saunders, Chris Gregg, Dick Gregg Jr. and Dick Gregg III, Space City Films President Marc Havican, Moody Bank CEO Vic Pierson and VPs Brent Cockerham and Craig Barker, MaximGroup CEO Ron Masters, Norman Frede Chevrolet GM Joan McKinney, San Jac Vice Chancellor Teri Crawford, My Flooring America President Mike Furin, Col. Len Waterworth of Texas A&M Galveston and BayTran President Theresa Rodriguez.

Other well known faces spotted mingling in the crowd were Emmeline Dodd and Gene Hollier, Jack and Marcy Fryday, John Martinec, Carol and Bob Robinson, Harv Hartman, Beth and TJ Aulds, Amy and Paul Dunphey, Lynda Guidry, Karen and Mark Keesler, Jeannie Kranz, Harriet and Jon Pilgrim, Debbie and Dr. Peter Wuenschel, Al Saylor and Gwen Griffin, Jim and Jane Sweeney, and John Wilkins, whose pretty wife, Shari, sang the most beautiful rendition of the National Anthem we have probably ever heard.