Moore Regional Auxiliary Celebrates 80 Years of Fundraising Balls
The following is the last in a series of three stories about the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Auxiliary's Holiday Ball.
BY BRENDA BOUSER
Special to The Pilot
It was 1950, and Olive and Lawrence Johnson had recently moved to Aberdeen to build a house and raise a family as he established a law practice in his hometown.
For a young couple eager to make new friends, the Moore County Hospital Auxiliary offered an invitingly pleasant foot in the door. It seemed an especially good place to start for Olive Johnson.
"I immediately became associated with the hospital auxiliary," she says. "I had been in school in New York and worked as a volunteer at what is now Sloan-Kettering (Cancer Center)."
The Johnsons attended their first Hospital Ball - actually more a Christmas dance than a full-fledged ball - in 1951. Olive and her friends had worked tirelessly for hours upon hours to make it a success, selling tickets, arranging for a band, ordering food, and making decorations and table arrangements.
Although casual compared with the sophisticated fundraisers of today, it was a wonderful evening, Johnson recalls. In one especially memorable moment, Dr. Michael Pishko, the beloved obstetrician who delivered most of the community's babies, led the crowd in a lively bunny hop.
"It was great fun, and we made all of $550," Johnson says.
With the 2010 Holiday Ball, the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Auxiliary will observe 80 years of service to the hospital and the communities it serves. The group that was formed in 1930 to raise money for hospital equipment, repairs and maintenance will this year direct its Ball proceeds to one of its most ambitious projects to date - an indoor Rehab Village to help inpatient rehabilitation patients prepare for their return to the daily activities of community life.
The upcoming event is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 10, at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst.
The Dana Family
Nearly six decades after her first Ball, Olive Johnson recalls a host of happy memories about the annual auxiliary events. Some of the best concern the Circus Ball, a themed event of the 1950s.
"That Circus Ball really was wonderful," she says.
The auxiliary chair that year was Louise (Mrs. Paul) Dana, whose young daughter, Penelope (but better known as Pete), was in high school at the time.
The Pinehurst branches of the Dana family tree shadow the very beginning of the hospital and its auxiliary. Paul Dana, an accountant and auditor, was on the committee that scouted the area for a suitable building site for the new facility. A hospital trustee for 34 years, he served as the board's secretary and treasurer for 30 years. When he died in 1962, he was succeeded as board secretary by his wife.
Thirty years before, Louise Dana had co-founded the auxiliary with Mrs. Leonard Tufts.
"The hospital meant a great deal to both my mother and father over the years," their daughter says.
Now Mrs. Howard Broughton, the former Pete Dana has no particular recollection that her parents attended hospital balls, although she is sure they went. She does, however, remember the ball with the circus theme and her role in it.
Tickets were $15 a couple for the event that was held at the old Pinehurst Country Club.
"They asked me to be the cigarette girl," Broughton says.
Like Olive Johnson and her friends Myrtis (Mrs. Maxwell) Morrison, Alice (Mrs. Wayne) Robbins and Ann (Mrs. Edward "Ted") Taws, Pete Broughton was a longtime auxiliary board member. In the days before rotating membership, it was not unusual to hold a place on the board for decades.
During her 30 years of board service, Pete Broughton held various ball-related responsibilities. One year, she sold ads for the Ball Book, calling on area small businesses for support while her co-chair approached large industries. She and her husband co-chaired the 1986 Ball with Dr. and Mrs. Duwayne Gadd.
Throughout the years, the Broughtons attended balls at various locations - the Pro Shop at Pine Needles, the old Pinehurst Country Club, the Country Club of North Carolina and the Pinehurst Member's Club. To Pete Broughton's mind, however, there has never been a venue to equal the Carolina Hotel, the ball's "home" for many years now.
"The hotel lends itself more to it, I think," she says. "It's all decorated for Christmas, and people like to come to the hotel."
"Movers and Shakers"
Ann Taws was a newlywed when she attended her first ball in 1960. Even though she was new to the organization, Taws and her husband, Ted, had been asked to chair the event, the Candelabra Ball in the old Pinehurst Country Club.
"I was young, I was new and eager to have fun," she recalls. "This was a big event."
The community's "movers and shakers" could always be counted on for ball support, and the year Taws worked on her first event her "mentor" was Olivia Burr, whose husband, John, had directed publicity for the Eisenhower presidential campaign.
"I had never done anything like that before," Taws says. "I called Olivia every afternoon."
Other auxiliary and ball stalwarts included Mrs. Arthur Lacey, whose English husband had been a member of the Ryder Cup team; the family of Dr. Robert Myers (mother Althea and daughters Paula Myers and Emily Hewson); and Mary Elaine (Mrs. Wallace) O'Neal.
Ann Taws served as auxiliary chair for several years and recalls that the themed balls, especially the Sapphire and Cadillac events, introduced a new level of financial success.
"They were the ones that really put us on the track to make money," she says.
"Black and White Ball"
Max and Myrtis Morrison chaired the Auxiliary Ball in 1976, the "Black and White" year when artist Joan Milligan sketched a couple of playful harlequins for the cover of the Ball Book, a publication that became a sought-after keepsake for many ball-goers.
"When the ball was over, people were coming back for the books," Myrtis Morrison says.
According to Morrison, the balls of the 1960s and '70s were "wonderful, glorious" events that were known for their elegant decorations, sophisticated band music - celebrity band leader Peter Duchin was a favorite - and generous community support.
One year, a post-ball thank-you note from long-time hospital and auxiliary supporter Marguerite (Mrs. Walter) Robins included a check for $5,000.
While the auxiliary of the late 20th and early 21st centuries has supported increasingly sophisticated projects, the organization of the early days backed modest - yet sometimes lifesaving - undertakings. The country was deep in the Depression when the auxiliary was organized, so early projects supported the most basic of the community's needs.
Early auxiliary members bought a cow and some chickens to provide milk and eggs to needy Moore County residents. They also bought a car to transport nurses, provided seeds to cash-strapped farmers and gave layettes to indigent mothers of newborns.
Later on, as the auxiliary became an acknowledged funding source, physicians began to approach the group with requests for pricey equipment. Ann Taws recalls a particular request for a microscope that allowed the hospital to begin offering ear, nose and throat services.
Capital Project Funding
By the 1980s, auxiliary members had begun to turn their eyes toward capital projects. One of the first was the Little People's Village, the hospital-operated day care for the children of Moore Regional employees.
"The auxiliary knew the people who worked in the hospital needed a place for their children," Myrtis Morrison says, "and the project progressed under the leadership of (auxiliary chair) Judy Cox."
In the past decade, a $1 million auxiliary donation funded the renovation and expansion of what is now called the FirstHealth Child Development Center.
For many years, another reliable source of auxiliary funding has been the hospital's gift shop. Morrison operated and worked in the shop, then an office-sized enterprise near the hospital's main entrance, for nearly 10 years. She made all of the floral arrangements and baby bows, and supervised the sale of jewelry, cards, stuffed animals and balloons.
"It turned out to be quite a task," she says, "but the hospital was small. You knew everybody. I think I made some really wonderful friends then."
Alice Robbins was new to the community, and also a bride, when she and husband Wayne attended their first ball in the early 1970s.
"Edie Chatham (Mrs. Richard) asked us to the first one," she recalls.
Robbins would later spend 20 years on the auxiliary board, much of that time as the treasurer after learning the group's financial ropes from hospital benefactress Marguerite Robins.
"She taught me well," Robbins says.
During the time when Alice Robbins served as the group's treasurer, the auxiliary assumed a financial role of "major proportions," according to the 1991 hospital history "In Love and Service." Projects included support of the radiology department and the maternity floor as well as the Little People's Village.
At the time, the group's most ambitious project to date involved a 1972 pledge to raise $100,000 for -pediatric intensive care in a new hospital wing. It took four years to fulfill that pledge, but an archival -photograph dated May 18, 1976, shows Hospital Board President James W. Tufts accepting a $100,000 check from Marguerite Robins.
Even more ambitious -projects lay in the auxiliary's future. Since the year 2000, the auxiliary has pledged - and fulfilled - significant contributions to various -hospital projects, including the new Reid Heart Center, the Clara McLean Hospitality House and the FirstHealth Hospice House, as well as the current -beneficiary, the Rehab Village at the hospital's Center for Inpatient Rehabilitation.
According to Alice Robbins, this spirit of giving and support is what the auxiliary and its annual ball are all about.
"Everybody really wants to support the hospital," she says.
Brenda Bouser works for the corporate communications office of FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
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