Seven steps to a heavenly catwalk

The Board of Realtors and Affiliates presented local models and local fashions for the enjoyment of a local audience for the "Seventh Annual Only in Laguna Fashion Show."

"This is one of the most popular events all year in Laguna," show coordinator Patty Truman said. "Only in Laguna are the mayor and many local dignitaries on the runway modeling and having a great time. This is a heavenly place."

Truman chose the theme for this year's show, "Laguna ? A Heavenly Place." She was inspired by Arnold Hano's description of Mayor Elizabeth Pearson-Schneider as "Laguna's Angel" for her efforts on behalf of the families displaced by the Bluebird Canyon landslide.

The fashions were divine, modeled by Pearson-Schneider, Sande St. John, City Treasurer Laura Parisi, No Square Theatre and "Lagunatics" founder Bree Burgess Rosen, Realtor Maria Elena Banks, firefighter Dean Rush, affiliates Faye Kirk, Rick Cirelli, Charisse Lake, Cammie Klein, Chris Williams, Milton Aguilar and Realtors Board President Michael Gosselin.

"The board is proud to be part of this community," Gosselin said. "Last year, we donated more than $100,000 locally."

"I would like to thank event co-chairs Faye Kirk and Rick McIntryre and of course, Patty, who is the heart and soul of the event and the affiliates of the board, who don't get recognizied enough."

Proceeds from the show benefited three non-profit community organizations: No Square Theatre, the Laguna Beach Woman's Club, and the Community Clinic.

This year's recipients were well represented in the show and in the audience.

The laryngitis that kept Burgess Rosen from her customary singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" to open the fashion show (Banks subbed for her) didn't keep her off the runway.

And parodies sung by "Lagunatics" cast members Gregg Barnette, Randy Hatfield, Paul Sigmund, Angel Caban and Michael Irish sparkled throughout the show.

No Square Theatre was recognized for the theatrical training and stage experience the group offers to local amateur performers of all ages, nurturing a love of theater and all performing arts.

Kirk, who first proposed the fashion show to the affiliate board in 2000, is also on the board of the clinic. Seated with Kirk's husband, Realtor Bob Chapman, were clinic supporters John Link, Claudia Crawford and Carolyn Bent.

The clinic, founded in 1930, logs more than 18,000 patient visits a year. Created originally to stop the spread of hepatitis due to shared-needle use in Laguna, the clinic now serves patients whose jobs do not offer healthcare insurance, including self-employed artists, restaurant workers, small business owners and their hourly employees. Payment for services is based on a sliding, income-based scale, but no one is ever turned away due to lack of funds.

Woman's Club stalwart St. John was supported by tables of club members, including Gayle Waite, Marion Jacobs, Lee Winocur Field and President Peggy Ford.

Also in the audience: Nancy Frank, City Treasurer Martha Anderson, artist Iris Adams, Truman's daughter, Laural Taylor, and nursery owner Cristin Fusano ? both of whom grew up in Laguna ? Marilyn Wilson, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rose Hancock, Anne Wood, and Carole Brittain.

Pat Kollenda and David Schaar reprised their roles as show commentators.

Pearson-Schneider was the first model on the runway, accompanied by Barnette who sang "Thank Heaven for Little Mayors ? What Would City Hall Do though she's only a size 2?" to the tune of the Maurice Chevalier classic in "Gigi." She wore a tweed suit, feathered wings and blushes.

Bardot Collection, Gallery of Wearable Art, Georgiou, Hobie Sports, Indian Summer, Kiri Brooke (Kirk's daughter) Collection of jewelry, Laura Downing, Leather Creations, Louise's Place, Melrose Place, On Board for Men, Sutton Place Boutique, Textile Dreams, Tippecanoes and Tops supplied the clothes and accessories for the show.

Alexis and Amber Hall chaired the raffle drawings and served on the show committee, which also included Jessalyn Shuey, Katie Wilson, Lisa Arden, Heather Knotts, Sherri Butcher, Victoria Winters, Chris Lutz, Ginger McCully, Tom Simpson, Jerry Beiser and Jay Horn.

STEELES NOT FORGOTTEN IN LAGUNA

The Harry and Grace Steele Foundation recently made its last gift, closing out the trust that had doled out about $165 million since it was founded in the early 1950s.

There is a reason that their names are on one wall of the large upstairs gallery at Laguna Art Museum.

The late Barbara Steele Williams, daughter of Harry and Grace, served as president of the museum board from 1976 to 1980, the first to be named president emeritus. Her contributions to the museum did not end when her term in office ended.

"No question, she was the key benefactor of the museum," Director Bolton Colburn said.

Not only did she contribute personally, she brought members of her family on board.

In 1980, part of the Virginia Steele Scott Memorial Collection was donated to the museum.

A bit later, in the mid-1980s, the Steele Foundation donated funds toward the renovation of the museum, which enlarged the exhibition and office space and redesigned the exterior ? remember the bubblegum pink?

Williams chaired the remodeling and contributed toward it. Her husband, the late LA Times editor Nick B. Williams, made significant contributions to the museum's endowment fund. Their names are also on one wall of the big gallery.

Before she died, Williams established a foundation in her name with the Orange County Community Foundation to benefit the museum, the Laguna Playhouse, the Laguna College of Art & Design and the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Grace Steele founded the original trust, seeding it with stock from the family-owned U. S. Electrical Motors, which later merged with Emerson Electric Co. Judicious investments of the dividends resulted in hefty contributions to Orange County philanthropic and cultural organizations.

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