An Enchanted Evening at PIP
By Ann Jarmusch
SOHO is known for hosting great parties and the one held in honor of the 27th annual People In Preservation Awards, and SOHO's 40th anniversary, was among the happiest in memory. Electricity shot through the cool, cloudy evening on May 29, as SOHO luminaries past and present gathered for an elegant reception outside Temple Beth Israel in Heritage Park.
From the top, each row left to right
Row 1 - Robert Martynec, winners Nancy Moors & Ann Garwood, (back row) Mike Wright & Tim Gahagan; Barry & Hillary Hager; Karen Charles & Sam Freeman.
Row 2 - SOHO Treasurer Jessica McGee & Kristin Harms; Welton & Holly Jones; winners Roxanne Govari, Dionné Carlson, Becky Sullivan & Terry Crook.
Row 3 - Lena Lollis; Eva Fogel, Carl Gwartney, winner Gary Fogel, Sabrina & Joanne Fogel, Ed Slater; SOHO Vice President Jaye Furlonger.
Row 4 - Maggie McCann & Susanne Grant; Ron & Marleen Buckley; winner Jennifer Hirsch & Jaimie Morse; Dr. Lynne Christenson Newell & Donald Newell.
Row 5 - Zeke Montes; Old Town Chamber of Commerce President Fred Grand, SOHO Events & Education Director Alana Coons, Senator Christine Kehoe, SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons, winner Stacey LoMedico, Vicki Granowitz, San Diego Tourism Promotion Corp. Executive Director Lorin Stewart; Suzanne & Bill Lawrence.
Row 6 - Cia & Larry Barron; Roger & Cookie Showley; Ron May; Jim Marich & Scott Sandel.
Photos by Sandé Lollis
Small crowds formed around Robert Miles Parker, SOHO's founder, who had come from New York City for the occasion, and past four-term president Carol Lindemulder. Both were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards before an audience of 140 inside the temple later that evening.
Another magnetic leader with admirers swirling around her was State Senator Christine Kehoe, named Preservationist of the Year. Rarely has an elected official been presented a People In Preservation Award, but Senator Kehoe is a longtime friend of preservation. She was being honored for the major land trade she engineered that will enable Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to include the former banks of the San Diego River.
SOHO president Curtis Drake had the privilege of introducing two announcers with unique personal historic ties to San Diego. Lorin Stewart, executive director of San Diego Tourism Promotion Corp., unveiled the ten sites on the 2009 Most Endangered List with grace and gravity that he occasionally infused with much-needed humor. Fred Grand, president of the Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce, delivered the good news about this year's twelve People In Preservation winners.
The winners took the stage with fighting spirit and broad smiles. A fortysomething Bryan Vess joked with mock horror that surely his prize-winning, mid-century modernist house, five days younger than he, could not be "historic." Daniel Watman of Friends of Friendship Park, a coalition that continues to protest the triple border fence for its social and environmental destruction, vowed that one day "the wall will come down."
Buzz about BeHi (short for Between Heights neighborhood group) delivered kudos to energetic members for their perseverance in opposing the Academy of Our Lady of Peace's plans to demolish three historic houses. And, in comments that could be said to sum up the whole evening, Jonathan Bowens, president of Brothers United San Diego Firefighters, Inc., invoked the magnitude of "legacy."
Guests were also treated to the premier of filmmaker Daniel Soderberg's work in progress, a video retrospective of SOHO's 40 years of achievement and change. Dan, a SOHO board member, will expand the 20-minute version shown that night with more footage from interviews with SOHO members past and present, historic and contemporary photos and music. The rousing video, shot full of the drama, tension and joy that define preservation work, made at least one member of the audience cry.
Past presidents Barry Worthington, Marc Tarasuck and Suzanne Lawrence, who was president when SOHO celebrated its 20th anniversary, were in the audience, as were early members and board members Cia Barron, Merika Gopaul, Pat Minnick, Sheri Peterson, Charles Reilly and Denise Sellars. Ron Buckley, a SOHO ally when he was staff to the city of San Diego's Historical Resources Board, came to see old friends. Carol Lindemulder told how she got involved in SOHO at the initial meeting at Miles Parker's house 40 years ago ("Miles, enthroned, smiled at me the way he's smiling at me now...").
Fittingly, Miles Parker had the night's last word, after he received his award. Visibly moved by all he had seen and heard that evening after years of living in New York, Miles said he was glad to have touched San Diego at the right moment and gladder still that so many extraordinary people have carried on SOHO's cause far beyond his expectations.
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