The Valley Line: Fashion show enlivens Verdugo Hills

On Monday I traveled from record-breaking 105-degree heat in Tucson into 55-degree coolness and rain in La Cañada Flintridge. What a quick change, but a very welcome one.

I went to visit Jackie Manning, a former longtime La Cañadan. Jackie and her late husband, Whipple, were actively involved in our La Cañada social scene when they lived here.

Jackie, an extraordinary host and tour guide, led me to a lot of surprise wonders in this desert city. We packed a lot of sight-seeing and cultural experiences into a short amount of time. This University of Arizona town is humming with activity and Wildcat fans are anxiously awaiting the school's next football and basketball season.

We attended a cocktail party in the spectacular 17,000 square foot art-filled home of Cole and Jeannie Davis to get to know the university's newly appointed athletic director, Greg Bryne, who spoke about the university's athletic programs.

The Davises recently committed a $2.65 million gift to the U of A's men's basketball program for facility upgrades and naming rights to a new strength training facility.

I also attended Jackie's docent presentation at the Tucson Museum of Art.

She is a new graduate of the museum's docent program and she gave a dynamite talk about Western sculptors. While there, I met Julie Sassee, chief curator of the museum and curator of modern and contemporary art.

There are a lot of wonders to see in Tucson, but the most incredible tourist attraction to witness at this time of the year was to see the desert in bloom.

Cactus of all shapes and sizes were in colorful bloom — it is quite an amazing sight.

One morning when it wasn't too hot we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is a great place to learn about the plants. It is also a zoo where you can see prairie dogs, mountain lions, javelinas and other critters in their natural habitat. Tucson has a lot to offer.

Moving on back to LCF, the Verdugo Hills Hospital Women's Council held its annual benefit fashion show on April 13 in the hospital's fourth-floor council rooms. Despite stormy weather, more than 120 guests turned out to experience the event, which carried the theme, “Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.”

Julie Haines was chair of the event; she and her committee did an outstanding job in presenting a Hollywood atmosphere.

Council member Ruth McNevin donned a va-va-voom white satin halter dress and a platinum blond wig in order to impersonate Marilyn Monroe.

Models for the fashion show were Yulanda Davis-Quarrie, Suzonne Slaughter, Jill Haines, Gloria Cotton, Freny Berkenbile, Sue Wilder, Betty Hurn, Ruth McNevin and Ali Smyser. Wilder, McNevin and Cotton served on the luncheon committee with Haines, as did Randy Alejo-Medina, Chris Rothrock, Cherie Zaun and Purnima Panchal.

Holiday Hats and Gowns in Montrose provided the fabulous fashions. Commentating the fashion show was Lynn Raggio and her sidekick, Greg Zarian.

Before luncheon was served, Council President Betty Hurn greeted the guests. Yulanda Davis-Quarrie, president of the hospital foundation, also stepped to the podium to give her salutations.

Len LaBella, president and chief executive of the hospital, also was on hand to meet and greet. I think I even detected a slight blush on his face when the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him, as he would soon be putting another candle on his cake.

LaBella, along with Dr. Leo Berkenbile, an emergency room physician at the hospital; Steve Wilder, vice chair of the hospital board of directors; Randy Slaughter, Bob Zaun, Steve Smyser and Kris Kons escorted the beautifully dressed models.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. She can be reached at

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