Although still a full year off, the inauguration of a new President–particularly one that might hail from Texas–preoccupied the Texas State Society, as the officers and board members began the detailed planning for yet another hallmark event. This time, though, the excitement was unparalleled as Texas Governor George W. Bush won the Republican Party’s nomination for President in the 2000 election. But well before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the Society tended to its traditional activities, in order to meet the needs of its bipartisan membership.
The 2000 Congressional Reception, chaired by Mike Gerber of Senator Hutchison’s office and Bill Christian of Senator Gramm’s office, was held at the traditional site–the Cannon Caucus Room–on March 30th, 2000. The Annual Meeting was held at the Russell Senate Office Building on May 3rd, with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison assuming the presidency of the Society. The Cherry Blossom selection committee, chaired by Amanda Bullard, introduced Nicole L. Morgan as Texas’ 2000 Cherry Blossom Princess.
She received the traditional necklace and Texas shaped charm and a beautifully framed congratulatory letter from Governor Bush’s office. In a major development, Society members ratified a change to the Constitution and By-Laws. The new change expands the leadership of the Society by adding two directors, each with two-year terms expiring in alternating years. The amendment calls for these two director positions to be filled exclusively by current Members of Congress representing Texas. This action brings the total number of directors to twelve and significantly strengthens the Society.
Officers for the new term include: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, President; Alisa Malechek Sell, First Vice President; Congressman Kevin Brady, Second Vice President; Jill Dowell, Secretary; Julie Turner, Treasurer; and Bill Christian, Historian. The Board of Directors includes Congressman Ken Bentsen, Barry Brown, Amanda Bullard, W. John Nichols, Todd Rogers, Bill Shute, Mark Franz, Jennifer Gerber, Rebekah Hamilton, Rick Meyers, Congressman Silvestre Reyes, Brian Thomas, Diane Morales, and Tim Isgitt.
Lois Auer completed her first full year as Executive Secretary and began a second, while Janet Slaughter Eissenstat persevered for another year as Newsletter Editor. Congressman Sam Johnson, Chairman of the 2000 Father’s Day Picnic, can be credited–along with his very able Assistant Chairs, Rebekah Hamilton and Missi Thomas–with another great event, held once again at the Pavilions of Turkey Run in northern Virginia. In a thrilling repeat, The RBIs of Texas (the Gramm-Hutchison softball team) won their second consecutive championship at the annual softball tournament.
On August 26th, Bess Abell addressed the 92nd Memorial Tribute to former President Lyndon Baines Johnson at the granite monument in the LBJ Memorial Grove located off of the George Washington Parkway in northern Virginia. Ms. Abell served the President as White House Social Secretary during the Johnson Administration.
Board Member Bill Shute, with a little help from friends like Glenn LeMunyon, resurrected the Annual Golf Tournament, which was held on September 25th at the South Riding Golf Club in Clifton, Virginia come rain or come shine. “It was the type of rain that all of our families back in Texas have been praying for,” said Shute. “I was impressed that out of the sixty-three confirmed players, forty-eight showed up ready to play. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t want to cooperate.” “After five holes, the skies just opened up and it didn’t stop,” stated LeMunyon. “I think I saw several animals lining up in pairs before it was over.”
In one of the great political cliffhangers of all time, members of the Texas State Society anxiously awaited the outcome of the 2000 Presidential campaign, as the contest between Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore extended for five weeks beyond Election Day. When the outcome was eventually determined in favor of Governor Bush, the Texas State Society, led by Rick Meyers, redoubled its efforts to host one of the most envied Inaugural Balls in the history of Washington’s social circles.
On January 19th, 2001, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in northwest Washington, the Texas State Society, TSS President, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and other elected officials, hosted the most coveted event of the 2001 Inaugural weekend. The Black Tie & Boots Ball, chaired by past TSS president Rick Meyers and Ambassador Penne Percy Korth, was attended by well over 11,000 people—the largest audience ever at a state society sponsored event and the largest event ever hosted by this hotel—as compared to the Society’s 1997 ball, with some 7,000 attendees. Senator Phil Gramm, Governor Rick Perry, Chairman Williams, Railroad Commission, and acting Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff were on hand—along with members of the Texas Congressional Delegation and other elected officials—to welcome President-elect George W. Bush, the incoming First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President-elect Dick Cheney, and his wife Lynne to Washington in anticipation of the swearing-in of a new U.S. President the next morning.
The official party was serenaded by Lyle Lovett, before being introduced to the main audience, where internationally-acclaimed pianist Van Cliburn of Fort Worth performed a special tribute to the Presidential party and Lee Greenwood treated the crowd to the patriotic anthem, “God Bless the U.S.A.” The main ballroom included performances by Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black, Tanya Tucker, Asleep at the Wheel, Gary P. Nunn, and Mark Chesnutt. Other venues within the massive hotel complex—all with Texian names like La Villita, the Spindletop Disco, the Luckenbach Java Lounge, the Hondo Honky Tonk Saloon, the Cotulla Cantina, and the Muleshoe Martini & Cigar Bar—featured such acts as The Beach Boys, Duck Soup, Blame it on Jane, Reckless Kelly, Aztex, and Marcia Ball.
This year’s ball was amplified by renowned Texas sports figures, who were on hand at the event’s Lone Star Sports Bar–although former Texas Rangers managing partner, George W. Bush did not make a stop at this venue. The crowd was more than satisfied, though, with the likes of Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Ben Crenshaw, Chuck Norris, Nolan Ryan, Darrel Royal, Jim Nantz, Mary Lou Retton, Zina Garrison, Mack Brown, Roger Clemens, Chris Gilbert, Drayton McLane, Bob McNair, R.C. Slocum, Norv Turner, and Chuck Watson.
One of the most unique and unprecedented aspects of this year’s ball was the inclusion of 100,000 square feet of exhibition space—dubbed the Texas Fair & Market Place—filled to capacity with goods and icons from all over Texas. The President-elect was presented with an original 1846 lithograph of Texas, while another highlight of the evening was a random drawing—by famed singer Wayne Newton—for a 2001 Chevy Suburban, won by one of the lucky attendees.
This event helped to increase the membership of the Society, thereby helping to rejuvenate the lifeblood of the organization—its membership. The unprecedented event was covered live by local, national and international media, including NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Larry King Live, and agencies from as far away as Japan and England.
While the success of the 2001 ball will surely be difficult to surpass, society members are already eagerly anticipating the 2005 inaugural ball–marking the Centennial of the Texas State Society in Washington, D.C.
The social calendar under Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s presidency was rounded out by the annual Salute to Congress, held concurrently this year with the 2001 Annual Meeting and Election of Officers. The event, chaired by Bill Christian and Rebekah Hamilton, was widely attended by both Society members and Members of Congress, as they bade farewell to Senator Hutchison, who was succeeded as President of the Society by Alisa Malechek Sell. Other officers elected for the 2001-2002 term included: Congressman Kevin Brady, First Vice President; Bill Shute, Second Vice President; Diane Morales, Secretary; Bill Christian, Treasurer; Bud Albright, Historian; Michael Crain, Entertainment Chair; and Barry Brown, Membership Chair. Board members for the new term included: Brenda Fleming Anderson, David Beckwith, Congressman Henry Bonilla, Mark Franz, Jennifer Gerber, Rebekah Hamilton, Wayne Hermandorfer, Rick Meyers, Congressmen Silvestre Reyes and Ciro Rodriguez, Nancy Smith, and Brian Thomas. The executive staff included: Lois Auer, Executive Secretary; Janet Slaughter Eissenstat, Newsletter Editor; and Gary Teal, Webmaster. As professional responsibilities commanded more of her time, Diane Morales resigned from the Board and was succeeded by Jennifer Boice, who was appointed by President Sell and confirmed by the Board.
In one of her last acts as president of the Society, Senator Hutchison appointed Houston Congressman John Culberson–Texas’ only freshman Representative following the 2000 election–as Chairman of the 2001 Father’s Day Picnic, held on June 17th at the Pavilions of Turkey Run in McLean, Virginia. An estimated 700 people attended this perennial favorite, and the Gramm-Hutchison softball team, The RBIs of Texas, won their third consecutive picnic tournament championship, dispatching fellow Lone Stars playing for the Texas Exes team (University of Texas alumni) in the final round. Congressman Joe Barton’s team placed third.
As mentioned above, Alisa Malechek Sell and the newly elected Board of Directors assumed their new responsibilities on Feb. 5, 2001, at the annual meeting. Following the financial success of the Black Tie and Boots ball and, under Alisa Sell’s leadership, TSS was able to make several sizable donations to worthy Texas charities. Also, plans were implemented to finance a number of college internships for Texas students to live and work in D. C. for one semester.
Our annual Cherry Blossom reception on April 3 in honor of our princess, Sara Bryant Holland,was held in the Russell Senate Office Building. She is a native of Plano and recent graduate of Trinity University. Everyone enjoyed hearing Sara’s remarks about her experiences as our state’s representative at the Cherry Blossom festivities and also about her graduate studies here in Washington, D. C.
Our 2001 annual Father’s Day picnic was held on June 17, at The Pavilions of Turkey Run, in McLean, Va. Under the enthusiastic leadership of the chairman, Congressman John Culberson, a great time was enjoyed by all. There was something for every age to enjoy. Activities included face painting, crafts and Moon Bounce for the youngsters, softball tournament sponsored by Lockheed Martin, bingo and, of course, and music by the Dixie Rebels. Plenty of good Texas food and goodies ensured that no one went home hungry.
Great plans were made for a contingent of TSS members to attend the Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles game in Baltimore on July 19. Regrettably, the game had to be postponed due to a fire in a railway tunnel nearby. Subsequently, the game was scheduled in Texas and disappointed TSS members had to put away their baseball cheers for another year.
On August 25th, the Society held its annual tribute to the late former President Lyndon Baines Johnson at the LBJ Memorial Grove located off the George Washington Parkway in northern VA. The speaker was Mr. Robert Dallek, renowned historian and author who has written several books about LBJ, including “Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960″ and “Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973″.
Back by popular demand, the Society’s 2001 Annual Golf Tournament was held at South Riding Golf Club in Clifton, Virginia on October 15th. A good time was reported by all.
In honor of the hard working White House and Congressional staff, a reception was held on October 25th at Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill. These casual get-togethers allow staff to become better acquainted and enjoy talking and, of course, bragging about their beloved home state.
To close out the social calendar for the year, our Terlingua Two-Step was held at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia on November 29th to a sold-out audience. Music was provided by Asleep at the Wheel, a Texas favorite. Coming soon after the horrible events of “9/11″, special recognition was extended to two Texans who died in the fire at the Pentagon. Lt. Col. Karen Wagner (San Antonio) and Navy Electronics Technician Third Class Daniel Martin Caballero (Houston), unconditionally dedicated themselves to our country. Proceeds from the TSS Golf Tournament and the Terlingua Two Step were donated to the two families.
Our first event in 2002 found a group of spirited Texans (of all ages) attending a San Antonio Spurs/ Wizards game at the MCI center. A fun time was reported.
Next, on February 5, Angela Godby chaired our annual Congressional Reception in the Cannon House Office Building. Approximately 600 TSS members met to enjoy tasty Texas treats. Door prizes included airline tickets and tickets to several sports events. Michael Crain chaired our Cherry Blossom reception on April 3. Four Southern states (Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee) joined to host one area-wide reception in the Rayburn House of Representatives Building foyer. Princess Kristin Elizabeth Barton, daughter of Congressman and Mrs. Joe Barton, graciously represented the Lone Star State at the week-long festivities. The Bartons are from Ennis, Texas. Preceding the reception, Alisa Sell presided at the annual meeting and installed Congressman Kevin Brady as the next TSS president.
During the annual meeting of the Texas State Society on April 3, 2002, Representative Kevin Brady was installed as the next president of the Texas State Society for the term of April, 2002 – April, 2003. Other officers installed that evening were Bill Shute, First Vice President; Representative Kay Granger, Second Vice President; Jennifer Boice, Secretary; Bill Christian, Treasurer and Barry Brown, Historian. Elected Board members with terms expiring in 2003 were Brenda Anderson, David Beckwith, Representative Henry Bonilla, Wayne Hermandorfer, Representative Ciro Rodriguez and Nancy Smith. Elected Board members with terms expiring in 2004 were Bud Albright, Roy Coffee, Michael Crain, Alisa Malachek Sell (immediate past president), Scott Styles and Representative Jim Turner. Non-Voting Positions on the board were: Lois Auer, Executive Secretary, Julie Hooks, Entertainment Chair, Missy Thomas, Membership Committee Chair, Rebekah Hamilton, Representative to the National Conference of State Societies and Brenna Hapes, Newsletter Editor.
Following the business meeting, everyone was invited to attend the Cherry Blossom reception jointly hosted by the State Societies for Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. Miss Kristin Elizabeth Barton graciously represented the Texas State Society. She is the daughter of Representative Joe Barton and Mrs. Barton of Ennis, Texas.
Several social get-togethers were scheduled throughout the year including Texas Night at the University Club on May 9. About 30 TSS members attended Texas night at the club.
On June 7th 400 members of the Society attended a Cognac reception held at the French Embassy and hosted by the French Cognac Association. During the reception, recognition was given to the historic contributions of Texas horticulturist Thomas V. Munson to the continued health of the French wine industry. In 1880, a rare root disease decimated the French wine grapes used to make their Cognac. Munson, who lived in Denison, Texas, had developed a root that was resistant to that particular disease and sent thousands of them to France, saving the Cognac vines.
There were about 700 attendees at the Society’s annual Father’s Day Picnic held on June 16 at historic Fort Hunt Park, Alexandria, VA. All of the usual Texas fare was served including Capital Q barbecue, Texas Heritage Provisions Company’s apple pie and, of course, Blue Bell ice cream. Representative Chet Edwards of Waco served as Picnic Chairman along with Assistant Chairs, Bill Christian of Midland and Sandra Hill of Denton. Along with all the games enjoyed by TSS members of all ages, David Vernon and The Dixie Rebels made an encore performance by playing some of the national music of Texas. A good time was had by all.
Our annual memorial tribute to President Lyndon Baines Johnson was held on August 31 at the granite monument in the LBJ Memorial Grove in northern Virginia. Ms. Catherine Robb, daughter of Senator and Lynda Bird Robb was the guest speaker. The group of about 40 attendees enjoyed hearing Ms. Robb’s remarks. As in Stonewall, Texas, lemonade and sugar cookies were served.
Then, on October 7, the TSS Annual Golf Tournament was held at Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Clifton, VA. Bill Shute served as chairman; there were about 120 attendees including Representatives Solomon Ortiz and Silvestre Reyes.
An always popular event, our Terlingua Two-Step, was held on November 8th at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. When guests learned that chicken fried steak and Dr. Pepper were on the menu, there was no doubt that the evening was going to be first class. Gary P. Nunn was our featured entertainer. About 400 guests came out to sing and two-step to their favorite tunes like “Go Home with the Armadillos.”
On November 12th, the TSS hosted a Texas Delegation Internship Luncheon in the U. S. Capitol. The luncheon was open to all Texans interning in the DC area. Several Texan natives, David Bearden, and Michael Crain, provided personal insight and professional advice about working in Washington and life experiences in general. A number of interns enjoyed hearing their remarks as well as enjoying a complimentary meal.
Washington’s National Cathedral has a tradition of honoring individual states on a rotating basis. November 17th was our State’s turn. It was interesting to hear of the Cathedral’s strong ties to Texas including the fact that the Texas state seal is part of the Narthex floor in the West End of the Capitol and is represented on a needlepoint wall hanging in the War Memorial Chapel. Representative Gene Green read one of the scriptures and TSS treasurer, Bill Christian, was the flag bearer. About 70 TSS members attended the service and the reception following.
In an effort to sponsor events fostering family participation, on November 13th, TSS reserved a group of tickets for the Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars at the MCI Center in DC. A second family event was also scheduled for the coming Washington Wizards vs. Houston Rockets to be held on February 27, 2003 at the same location.
January, 2003, started with several events already posted on the TSS schedule. A Happy Hour was held on January 31 for the Texas, Georgia, and Nevada State Societies. Everyone in attendance reported a good time and expressed interest in continuing occasional social events with other state societies.
Our annual Congressional Reception was held on February 1, 2003 in the Cannon Caucus Room, House of Representatives. Representative Kevin Brady welcomed the crowd and thanked Congressman Henry Bonilla for co-chairing the event with him. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson made a few remarks and then welcomed newly elected Senator John Cornyn who helped draw the door prizes. There was some concern among the 800 attendees when it was announced that the delivery of our favorite Blue Bell ice cream was delayed. Happily, the ice cream arrived and along with another Texas favorite, Shiner Bock beer, the evening was a complete success.
On March 31, 2003, during TSS’ annual meeting outgoing TSS President, Congressman Kevin Brady, installed Bill Shute as our new President. The annual meeting was held in Room 1116 Longworth House Office Building at 5:30 p.m. Other officers elected for the 2003-04 cycle were Rep. Kay Granger, 1st Vice President, Scott Styles, Second Vice President, Jennifer Boice, Secretary, Bill Christian, Treasurer and Barry Brown, Historian. Directors with terms expiring April, 2004, were Bud Albright, Roy Coffee, Michael Crain, Alisa Malechek Sell, Rep. JimTurner and Bob Mansker. Directors with terms expiring April, 2005, were Rep. Kevin Brady, Rep. Chris Bell, Scott Dunaway, Mike Meece, Ed Perez and Michael Young. Julie Hooks was Entertainment Chair. Non-voting positions were held by Lois Auer, Executive Secretary, Ken Pittman, Representative to the National Conference of State Societies and Brenda Hapes, Newsletter Editor.
At the conclusion of the meeting, everyone adjourned to the Rayburn Foyer for our annual Cherry Blossom reception. Other states that joined the celebration were Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Our own State’s princess, Monique Harps, graciously greeted the guests during the evening. As always, excellent Texas food and drinks were in abundance for a large turn-out of TSS members who had paid their 2003 membership dues.
A new event was scheduled that year – On May 3, TSS joined several Texas universities in hosting a tent at the East Coast Rodeo Spring Gold Cup horse races in The Plains, VA. Jennifer Boice made all the arrangements. Chartered buses provided transportation for a large contingent of TSS members. Good weather, good food and good friends all contributed to a great day at the races.
A Texas County Fair was the theme of our annual Father’s Day picnic, held on Sunday, June 15th at historic Fort Hunt Park, Va. Cong. John “Judge” Carter of Round Rock served as the Honorary Picnic Chairman and was very ably assisted by picnic directors, Julie Hooks of Huntsville and Sandra Hill of Donna, Texas. There was something available for everyone’s enjoyment, including a ride on a mechanical bull brought all the way from Lavernia, Texas. All the usual good food expected at a Texas picnic, including Capital Q’s barbecue and Blue Bell ice cream, was enjoyed by a large crowd.
On July 18th, more than 200 members of the Texas, Florida and Hawaii State Societies enjoyed a Happy Hour at the Cantina Marina on the D. C. waterfront. The Sugarcane Farmers of Texas, Hawaii and Florida hosted the tropical-themed evening, providing a live band, silk leis, food and drinks. Early rain in the evening did not deter the attendance.
On an unusually cool and sunny Saturday morning, August 23rd, about 50 TSS members including Lynda Johnson Robb and her daughter, Jennifer, gathered to pay a birthday tribute to the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson. TSS appreciated the outstanding presentation by the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard. Dr. Thomas Allen Schwartz, an LBJ Biographer and historian, gave remarks on President Johnson’s extraordinary and often overlooked foreign diplomacy in Europe. Then, Lynda Johnson Robb and Jennifer laid a memorial wreath. As enjoyed in Stonewall, Texas, every year on the occasion of the late President’s birthday, lemonade and sugar cookies were served. Kate Jeffrey chaired the event.
Next, a once-in-a-life-time event was held on Wednesday, October 29th at the historic National Building Museum in DC. A set of original flags flown over Texas soil were brought to Washington, D. C. Included in the display was the rare “28th Star” American flag, the official U. S. flag that recognized the admission of Texas to the Union. Bob Schieffer, Chief Washington Correspondent for CBS News was the Master of Ceremonies. Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers provided entertainment for the evening. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison served as Chair. Honorary Co-Chairs were The Hon. Don Evans, The Hon. Rod Paige and Senator John Cornyn.
On November 12th, TSS hosted a luncheon for Lone Star State college interns, temporarily calling DC home. Two Texas natives, David Bearden and Michael Crain, both serving in the current Administration, provided personal insight and professional advice about working in DC. Their experience helped the students to better understand their role and link not only to Capitol Hill, but Washington as a whole.
Our annual Terlingua Two Step at the Birchmere, Alexandria, Virginia on November 14 rounded out a very busy year for the Texas State Society. The Wil Gravatt Band provided the “boot-scooting” music and our special entertainer for the evening, Junior Brown, entertained with his own unique style of Texas music. A Texas-sized buffet was provided by UPS.
On January 15, 2004, Bill Shute and his team arranged a Happy Hour with the California State Society. It was held at The Exchange Bar in DC (6:30-8:30 p.m.) A good time was reported by all.
On February 11th the TSS held the Salute to Members of Congress in the Cannon Caucus Room. The 34 members of the Texas delegation to Congress were the honored individuals. All members of the Texas State Society were invited to attend free, as part of their paid membership. As always, a large crowd attended.
As had become a regular event, the annual meeting of the Society, held on March 29, 2004, coincided with the annual Cherry Blossom Princess Reception, where Julia Reeder was recognized as the Texas Princess. The reception was held in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer at 6PM, while the business of the Society was held at 5:30 in Room 1116 of the Longworth Building, adjourning in time for the latter event.
At the annual meeting, Congresswoman Kay Granger of Fort Worth was elected President. Other officers elected were: Scott Styles, First Vice President; Congressman John Carter, Second Vice President; Jenifer Sarver, Secretary; Bill Christian, Treasurer; and Barry Brown, Historian. Board members for the year were: Congressman Kevin Brady, Congressman Chris Bell, Scott Dunaway, Ashley Meece, Ed Perez, Bob Mansker, Bill Shute, Congressman Martin Frost, Julie Hooks, Lucy Harwood Weber, and Laurie Knight.
The year of activities began on January 15th, when the TSS joined with the California State Society for a time of fellowship at The Exchange Bar, 1719 G Street, in DC. There was an arrangement made with the establishment for no cover charge for the event.
On February 11th the TSS held the Salute to Members of Congress in the Cannon Caucus Room. The 34 members of the Texas delegation to Congress were the honored individuals. All members of the Texas State Society were invited to attend free, as part of their paid membership, with a large crowd filling the Room.
On June 20th, Father’s Day, the annual picnic was held at Fort Hunt Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Picnic co-chairs, Julie Hooks and Bill Christian, provided a full day of food and activities. Capital Q barbeque, Texas Heritage Pies and Blue Bell Ice Cream captured the menu highlights, while bingo, tug-of-war, putt-putt golf, and the mechanical bull captured the attention of most participants. Door prizes for those who attended to the end of the picnic were highly coveted, as usual.
On July 22, the Florida Sugar Cane League, Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, and the Hawaii Sugar Farmers sponsored a happy hour for the three state societies at the Cantina Marina, 600 Water Street, SW in DC. Hula dancing was the centerpiece of the entertainment. Susan McAvoy welcomed attendees to the Lyndon Baines Johnson birthday tribute on August 21, traditionally held at the LBJ Memorial Grove, located off of the George Washington Parkway between the 14th Street and Memorial bridges. The Reverend Alvin Jackson of the National City Christian Church, where President and Mrs. Johnson attended, gave the invocation. Senator and Mrs. Robb were present.
During the year, the website for the TSS became a more important element in the distribution of information to Society members. Lois Auer, Executive Secretary to the TSS, led the way in moving membership records to the new computer system. Tickets to the upcoming Black Tie & Boots were placed on line for sale, with an immediate positive response to the offering. The remainder of the term, the Board of Directors concentrated on the planning for the Black Tie & Boots Ball, to be held in January, 2005. The annual Terlingua Two Step country-western dance was not held this year due to all the preparations being made for the Black Tie & Boots Ball.
Bill Shute was the Chair of the Centennial Ball (Black Tie & Boots) and continued to keep the Board fully informed as to the various events (and costs) that were included in the planned event.
Recipe for a Successful Black Tie & Boots
Start by gathering the following ingredients:
25 cases salsa
90 cases of chips
300 lbs. Velveeta
600 lbs. Ground beef
6000 jalapeno poppers
Over 1 ton shrimp (2500 lbs.)
Slowly add in:
250 media credentials
Over 370 media stories
Mix well with frigid temperatures and three inches of snow, and then serve it up inside 300,000 square feet of the largest hotel in Washington. You will have on your hands the biggest and best party these parts have seen in the past four years. And by the way, this recipe serves 12,000 Texans.
By all accounts, the 2005 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball was a huge success. Texans from Washington, Texas, and around the country gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Wednesday, January 19 to kick up their heels in their finest formal wear. Television, newspaper, and radio correspondents reported live from the event, representing media outlets as diverse as the major networks, local Texas stations, the Associated Press, the London Times, Access Hollywood, Allentown (PA) Morning Call, and the Brattleboro (VT) Reformer.
Black Tie & Boots guests were entertained by 23 Texas bands in seven ballrooms ranging from perennial favorites Asleep at the Wheel to Gary P. Nunn, Neal McCoy, Patricia Vonne, Del Castillo, Duck Soup, The Derailers, Blame it on Jane, Dexter Freebish, Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes, Lucas Hudgins and the First Cousins, The Gourds, Reckless Kelly, Midlife Crisis and the Hotflashes, Robert Earl Keen, Sara Evans, and Clay Walker. In addition, Texas pageantry acts performed as well, with appearances by the Kilgore Rangerettes, the Lake Highland High School Wildcat Wranglers, the Texas A&M Ross Volunteers, the UT Brownsville Mariachi Escorpion, and the University of Texas Showband of the Southwest.
For those guests who wanted to take a little bit of Texas home with them, the Texas Fair provided ample opportunity. More than 60 retailers and exhibitors from Texas filled the downstairs convention space at the hotel where they offered everything from Heritage Pies from Jasper to custom boots and hats to jewelry to clothes to fishing poles. And guests could get a picture taken with Reveille or BEVO (or both) as well as be photographed on top of a longhorn steer or holding an armadillo from the Fort Worth Zoo.
Two lucky guests walked out with a John Deere Gator all-terrain vehicle and an Inauguration special edition Toyota Tundra.
In the very crowded Main Ballroom, Houston’s own Yolanda Adams sang a dynamic rendition of the National Anthem. At the conclusion of her performance, a large Texas painted curtain opened to reveal our special guests. As they did four years ago, The President, First Lady and their daughters joined us for a rousing presentation, accompanied by Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne. Also, on the stage were TSS President, Congresswoman Kay Granger, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator John Cornyn, Governor Rick Perry, BT& B Chair Bill Shute and his wife, Zelda.
Earlier in the evening, two special presentations were made. In recognition of the many brave Texans who are serving our country overseas, members of the Armed Services who have recently returned from Iraq were honored. In addition, in recognition of the role he played in helping the entire nation pick itself up after the tragedies of September 11, 2001, former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani was made an honorary Texan by Governor Perry and was presented with a pair of Luchese boots and a Stetson hat by Senators Hutchison and Cornyn.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the strong support of our corporate sponsors, and the Board of Directors would like to thank each and every one of them. Please visit the website to see a listing of our sponsors.
With the election of Scott Styles as President at the annual meeting held at 5:30 PM on April 4, 2005 in Room 304 of the Cannon House Office Building, a new Board of Directors was elected by the membership present. Others elected included: Congressman John Carter, First Vice- President; Ed Perez, Second Vice-President; Jenifer Sarver, Secretary; and Bob Mansker, Historian. Congresswoman Kay Granger, Kate Williamson, Stephanie Linder, Kristen Hawn, Barry Brown and Michael Crain were elected to two-year terms, while continuing on the Board with unexpired terms were: Bill Shute, Carolyn Hensarling, Julie Hooks, Laurie Knight, and Lucy Weber. Congressman Henry Cuellar was elected to a one-year term, to fill the vacancy of former Congressman Martin Frost. Lois Auer continued as Executive Secretary, a post she has held since taking the position from Becky Hebert in November, 1999.
Immediately following the annual meeting, all members were invited to a reception for the 2005 Texas Cherry Blossom Princess, Lauren McKenzie of The Woodlands, Texas, which was held in the Cannon Caucus Room at 6:00 PM. Joined by the state societies of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky, also celebrating their Cherry Blossom Princesses, guests were served barbeque from Tennessee, Shiner beer from Texas, and various other dishes, including chocolate covered strawberries and other desserts.
The first meeting of the 2005-2006 Board was May 6, 2005, noon, at the offices of former Board President Larry Meyers, who had offered his conference room for Board meetings for a number of years. The highlight of the meeting was a thorough report from former Texas State Society President, Bill Shute on the income and expenses that were generated by the Black Tie & Boots event held immediately prior to the inauguration of President Bush in January.
The Historian, Bob Mansker, began a regular presentation of historical events that impacted either the Texas State Society or the State of Texas, or both. The first presentation was a historical list of the Texas State Society’s annual picnic locations for each of the past fifty-five years.
The June 3rd meeting concentrated on the upcoming Centennial Picnic, previously referred to as the TSS Father’s Day Picnic. Co-chairs Julie Hooks and Bill Christian recommended that the name be altered, especially for this year, because of the 100th anniversary of the TSS. The name was to be called the Centennial Picnic on Father’s Day. No change was anticipated for the name of Father’s Day Picnic for future years.
The Executive Secretary reported that 1,444 paid memberships were on the rolls. The July 1 meeting of the Board of Directors was held in the offices of America’s Health Insurance Plans, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District. The Historian’s minute focused on the freak incident of history in which the defeat of Senator Ernest W. McFarland of Arizona, by Barry Goldwater in 1952, actually provided the platform for Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas to become Majority Leader of the Senate, thereby greatly promoting his career.
Julie Hooks gave statistics from the annual picnic, citing that approximately 1,200 tickets were sold, with 1,056 plates filled, according to Smokey Glen Farm personnel. 600 half chickens, 574 pounds of ribs, 1,200 ears of corn, 1,500 cups of Blue Bell Ice Cream, and 9 1/4 kegs of beer were served at the picnic. She reported that she and Bill Christian started an annual tradition — the singing of the Texas State Song: “Texas Our Texas”.
Because of the Black Tie & Boots ball held in January, the Congressional Reception for 2005 was held at a later date this year, July 20. It was held in the Cannon Caucus Room in the Cannon House Office Building. Confirmation of 425 guests was given to the catering firm for the event. The Caucus Room was packed, with everyone feeling the event was a big success.
In August, the traditional LBJ Birthday celebration took place exactly on the former President’s birthday, August 27. About fifty people participated at the LBJ Memorial Park on the Virginia side of the Potomac, with former Senator Chuck Robb attending.
Elizabeth Hutchinson, past President of the TSS and long time friend of the Johnson family, delighted the audience with stories about her association with the Johnsons. Everyone enjoyed looking at the personal mementos and photographs of the LBJ years in the White House, which she had on display.
The traditional Terlingua Two-Step was held on November 9th at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington, VA. The Ballroom provided a very convenient and comfortable location for the event. The Wil Gravatt Band played lots of Texas music for those who wanted to dance.
At the December meeting, the Board finalized a recommendation from the Treasurer to change the annual membership fees for TSS to the following scale: 1-year: $25; 2-years: $45; 3-years: $70; and 4-years: $90, all for individuals. Family memberships were approved: 1 year at $40; 2 years at $75; 3 years at $110; and 4 years at $140. At the January meeting of the Board, Lois Auer gave a report on the number of memberships for multiple years that had been received.
The Congressional Reception for 2006 was held on February 15th in the Cannon Caucus Room in the Cannon Building. Current members of the TSS were given entrance free of charge. The crowd was massive, as usual, with all who attended having a great evening. The 34 members of the Texas delegation were honored by the reception. President Bush and the First Lady honored the National Champion University of Texas football team at the White House on February 14. A small group of TSS members was invited to the White House to join in the recognition event. Later, the team was hosted at the Washington Marriott Hotel in celebration of their winning national champion athletic fete against the University of Southern California on January 3, 2006, when they won the title of National Football Champions for 2005. Marco Santiago placed numerous photos of the two events on the TSS website, which has become increasingly important to the Society during the year.
At the end of the term, discussion and plans were already underway for the next Black Tie & Boots in January, 2009.
Immediately prior to the 2006 Cherry Blossom Princess, Heather Jennings, being introduced to the state societies of Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina, meeting jointly in the Cannon Caucus Room in the Cannon Office Building at 6:00 PM on April 3rd, the 2006-2007 TSS Board of Directors was elected by the general membership. The meeting began with outgoing President Scott Styles calling for a vote on the following slate, which was adopted unanimously:
President, Congressman John Carter; 1st Vice-President, Ed Perez; 2nd Vice-President, Senator John Cornyn; Secretary, Stacey Kounelias; Treasurer, Bill Christian, and Historian, Robert T. Mansker. Newly elected board members were: Scott Styles, Congressman Henry Cuellar, Jenifer Sarver, Israel Hernandez, Amy Hawkins, and Walt Smith. Holdover board members were: Barry Brown, Congresswoman Kay Granger, Kristin Hawn, Stephanie Linder, and Kate Williamson. Elected to a one-year unexpired term was Nando Gomez. Lois Auer continued as Executive Secretary. Julie Hooks filled the Entertainment Chair position; Marco Santiago, Public Relations Chair, and Brenna Hapes continued as Newsletter Editor.
President Carter announced that the first meeting of the Board would be on April 24 in the offices of Meyers and Associates. The meeting dealt primarily with planning for both the annual Father’s Day Picnic, again held at Smokey Glen Farm, and the 2009 Black Tie & Boots Event. Board Historian Bob Mansker continued his presentation of Texas “Historical Minutes”, which he began the previous year and which he continued to provide throughout the year.
On June 6, there was a Happy Hour at the Billy Goat Tavern, 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW, arranged by Jamie McWright.
Brittany Eck and Bill Christian headed the TSS committee for the annual Father’s Day Picnic, while Congressmen Reyes and Hensarling were Honorary Picnic Co-Chairmen. The menu included Texas Barbeque brisket on the menu for the first time in the event’s history at Smokey Glen Farms in Maryland. Over 1,000 plates were served at the event.
Members of the TSS were invited to a Kennedy Center presentation of “On the Road with Bob”, a play about Bob Wills and his years of showmanship as a country music singer and band leader. The September 22nd presentation was enjoyed by all in attendance.
An Intern lunch was held in July, for the numerous Texas interns working in the various congressional offices representing Texas.
On August 26th, Kate Williamson headed the LBJ Birthday celebration, which was held at the LBJ Park on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Howard L. Burris was the featured speaker. Former Virginia Senator and LBJ son-in-law Chuck Robb was present for the event. He presented his daughter and granddaughter to the crowd of about 50 attendees. A military honor guard was present for the ceremony.
At the September 15th meeting of the Board, President Carter began discussion about the possibility of the TSS purchasing a “Texas House”, similar to the Florida House located on Capitol Hill. Former President Granger had previously brought forward the same issue; however, in later meetings of the Board, the general tenor of the group was that the cost, at the current time, would be prohibitive.
On November 16, Jen Sarver headed the traditional Terlingua Two-Step, which was again held at the Clarendon Ballroom on Wilson Boulevard. The entertainment for the evening was Wil Gravitt’s and Texas native Cory Morrow‘s bands, while the TSS members and guests enjoyed barbecued ribs and chicken fingers. Over 600 enjoyed the event.
As of January, 2007, membership dues were increased to $25 for one year, $45 for two years; $70 for three years; and $90 for four years. Family memberships were $40; $75; $110; and $140 for the same periods.
On February 8, the TSS hosted the Congressional Reception in honor of the Members of Congress representing the State of Texas in both the House and the Senate. Carmen Terry was in charge of the event, and Congressman Chet Edwards was the co-host of the event along with Congressman John Carter.
Planning began in March, 2007 for the Texas Day at the Washington National Cathedral. A breakfast and special morning service at the Cathedral celebrating the people and history of Texas was planned by the Director of the National Cathedral Association, as is done every four years.
Ed Perez continued to report to the Board on the Black Tie and Boots event planning progress at each meeting. The event, to be held in January of 2009, will be held at the Gaylord Hotel, which is under construction at a location south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and on the Maryland side of the River.
At the final meeting of the Board, the slate of Board members for 2007-2008 was adopted for presentation to the annual membership meeting. Throughout the year, former TSS Board President Larry Meyers provided space in his office for regular Board meetings.
The new Board of Directors took its place ahead of a year of planning for the upcoming Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball [January, 2009]. At the annual meeting on April 12, 2007, Ed Perez, serving as Executive Director of Texas Office of State-Federal Relations in Washington, DC, was chosen as the Society’s 78th President; Senator John Cornyn, 1st Vice President; Bill Christian; Stacey Kounelias, Secretary; Bob Mansker, Treasurer; and Ryan Henry, Historian. Directors with terms ending in 2008 were Representative Henry Cuellar, Amy Hawkins, Israel Hernandez, Jenifer Sarver, Walt Smith and Scott Styles (past president). Directors with terms expiring in 2009 were Representative John Carter (immediate past president), Doug Centilli, Cathy Gillespie, Representative Gene Green, Susan McAvoy and Bethany Smith. Approval was given for Lois Auer to continue her duties as Executive Secretary.
Board meetings, throughout the year, were held in the offices of former TSS Presidents Larry and Rick Meyers.
Following the annual meeting on April 12, the 2007 Cherry Blossom Princess, Maggie Hass, a senior at The University of Texas at Tyler, was recognized at a reception held in the Rayburn Room of the House of Representatives. Over 200 people attended the reception, held in conjunction with the state societies of Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
On June 17th, the annual Father’s Day Picnic was once again held at the Smokey Glen Farm near Gaithersburg, Maryland. Almost 1,000 members and others attended where a menu of barbeque chicken, ribs, and brisket was served. As always, Blue Bell ice cream and apple pie were on the menu. The Dixie Rebels provided music.
On July 31st, the Society hosted a luncheon for all the 2007 Texas interns working in the DC area for the summer. The Honorable Chet Edwards and the Honorable Kay Granger were the special guests and offered their remarks encouraging the interns. Julie Hooks chaired the event.
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s birthday was remembered on August 25th, following the passing of Lady Bird Johnson earlier in the year. This year’s annual event was given in her honor. Susan McAvoy was chair. The guest speaker was Marta Miller Dunetz who worked for Mrs. Johnson in the White House. Lynda Johnson Robb and her husband, for Virginia Governor and U. S. Senator Chuck Robb attended the ceremony.
On November 15th, the Society’s Terlingua Two-Step was held at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington, VA. More than 150 attendees filled the ballroom, with music supplied by Texas artist, Wade Bowen with the opening by the Wil Gravatt band. A menu of various foods was served, including chicken tenders, tacos, small beef kabobs, and more.
The Congressional Reception for 2008 was held on February 13, 2008 in the Cannon Office Building Caucus Room, honoring the 34-member Texas delegation. It was chaired by Congressman Gene Green. Ed Perez introduced the attending members of the delegation.
At the last meeting of the Board prior to the annual meeting, the 2008-2009 slate of officers was adopted.
With all thoughts focused on the upcoming Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Event, scheduled for January, 2009, the new board took office on April 10, 2008. New officers: President, U. S. Senator John Cornyn,; 1st Vice-President, Bill Christian; 2nd Vice-President, Congressman Silvestre Reyes; Secretary, David Kelly; Treasurer, Bob Mansker, and Historian, Jen Sarver.
Board members were Congressman John Carter (past president), Doug Centilli, Cathy Gillespie, Congressman Gene Green, Susan McAvoy, Bethany Smith, Don Carlson, Congressman Mike Conaway, Craig Felner, Ed Perez (past president), Jenny Sheffield, and Hannah Simone. Lois Auer agreed to continue serving as our Executive Secretary.
The election of the new board coincided with the 2008 Cherry Blossom Princess Reception held on April 10, 2008 in the Hart Senate Office Building, where Sarah Worsham of Joaquin, Texas, a junior at The University of Texas at Tyler, was presented and introduced as the reigning Cherry Blossom Princess.
The 2008 Fathers’ Day Picnic was held on June 15, 2008. The Smokey Glen Farm in Gaithersburg, Maryland, was once again the site of the event, where more than 800 Texans and friends feasted on barbeque brisket, chicken, sausage, and other delights. For Brittany Eck, who chaired the event, and all who attended, it was truly a beautiful day for a picnic.
On Sunday, July 13, 2008, members and friends joined together at the Washington Nationals Ballpark in Washington, DC to support the Houston Astros. This was the first time a trip to a ballpark had been scheduled since bus and train trips were previously taken to games in Baltimore.
Celebrating the 100th birthday of President Lyndon B. Johnson, over 50 guests joined together on August 23, 2008 in the LBJ Memorial Grove next to the Pentagon. The Honorable Tyler Abell, Chief of Protocol for President Johnson, was the guest speaker. Chris Bjornson chaired the event during which Dr. Stephen W. Gentle of the National City Christian Church gave the invocation. Senator and Mrs. Charles Robb were in attendance.
With all efforts being placed on making the Black Tie & Boots event a success, both from individual attendance and sponsor participation, the annual Terlingua Two-Step was postponed until later in 2009. The decision to do so proved to be a wise one, as all resources were directed toward January.
On January 19, 2009, the much-anticipated and lavish Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball, chaired by Ed Perez, took place at the newly-opened Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on the banks of the Potomac River in Maryland. Senator John Cornyn, president of the Texas State Society, welcomed revelers to the event and introduced Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and members of the Texas Congressional Delegation on the VIP stage in the Main Ballroom where many presented their western boots to the audience. Other guests featured included the Kilgore Rangerettes, NASA astronauts, The Lake Highland High School Wildcat Wranglers, and Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington. Publicized as the “hottest ticket in town” during the 2009 inaugural ball season, over 11,000 registered attendees were entertained by 23 bands performing on six Texas-themed stages from 7 pm until 2 am. Delicious hors d’oeuvres and an open bar were special treats made available throughout the evening. The Texas Fair featured 109 booths where vendors from Texas and other local businesses displayed and sold their wares.
The 2009 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball was made possible by the strong support of 51 event sponsors and through strong member ticket sales. After years of planning and coordination, the 2009 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball was deemed a huge success.
The last event of the term, March 18, 2009, was the annual Texas Congressional Delegation reception held in the Cannon Caucus Room of the Cannon Office Building. This year the reception was combined with the reception for the 2009 Cherry Blossom Princess, honoring Michelle Elaine Jackson of LaPorte, Texas.
The Annual Meeting of the Texas State Society of Washington, DC (TSS) was held on Capitol Hill on April 21, 2009 in the Senate Visitor’s Center of the new Capitol Visitor Center. Approval and instillation of the 2009-2010 officers were as follows: The Board of Directors 2009-2010: President, Bill Christian; 1st Vice-President, The Honorable Silvestre Reyes; 2nd Vice-President, Doug Centilli; Secretary, Bob Mansker; Treasurer, Jennifer Daniels, and Historian, Lindsey Mask. Directors with terms expiring 2010: Don Carlson, The Honorable Mike Conaway, Craig Felner, Ed Perez, Jenny Sheffield Drucker, Hannah Simone. The newly elected directors with terms ending in 2011: LaKeitha Anderson, Senator John Cornyn (immediate Past President), Marc Gonzales, The Honorable Charles Gonzalez, Debra McKeown and Jack Peterson. Board Positions: Congressional Liaison, Barry Brown; Entertainment Chair, Brittany Eck; Executive Secretary, Lois Auer; Membership Chair, Gerardo Interiano; National Conference of State Societies, Bill Christian; Newsletter Editor, Marissa McCord; Public Relations Chair, Bethany Scully; Sponsorship Chair, Brian Haley.
Annual dues for 2009-2010 remained at $25.00 for the calendar year. Family membership continued at $40.00 per calendar year. TSS members were encouraged to join and/or renew their memberships at the TSS website: www.TexasStateSociety.org.
On Sunday, June 21, 2009 from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm the Annual Father’s Day Picnic was held at Smokey Glen Farm in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Family activities at the picnic included a softball tournament, bingo, zip line, climbing wall, horseshoes, face painting, live music, dancing, barbecue, and other treats. The 2009 Honorary Picnic Co-Chairmen: Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Michael Conaway, Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, and Congressman Silvestre Reyes. Picnic leadership: Brittany Eck, Picnic Director; Sarith Ruiz, Picnic Deputy Director; Chelsea Brown, Volunteer Coordinator. A great time was reported by all.
August 26, 2009 was the originally scheduled annual tribute and celebration of Lyndon B. Johnson’s 101st birthday (the day before his actual birth date). It was rescheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 out of respect for the family of the late Senator Edward Kennedy. LBJ’smdaughter, Lynda Robb, led the event at LBJ Memorial Grove off the George Washington Parkway. There were approximately 60 attendees, which included Senator Chuck Robb (D-VA).
On November 19, 2009, the Texas State Society held its annual Terlingua Two-Step at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington, VA at 7:30 pm with Gary P. Nunn performing live. Tickets were $35 per person with advanced online purchase. Admission at the door was $45 per person. Everyone enjoyed the tasty snacks which included macaroni and cheese.