Scene & Heard: Special Olympics "19th Hole" gala
( Colby Ware, special to The Baltimore Sun / May 25, 2011 )
The event was titled "The 19th Hole - An Intimate Evening with Arnold Palmer and Jim Nantz," in which the golf legend would participate in an informal chat with the golf commentator in front of a banquet hall full of folks, all benefitting Special Olympics Maryland.
Although Nantz' arrival was delayed by a late train, some guests had the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with Palmer, almost as soon as they arrived at Martin's West.
The 81-year-old golf stood patiently at one end of a VIP reception room to meet and greet a line of folks; taking photos with them and signing autographs.
Among them, Fran Contino, retired McCormick chief financial officer and his wife, Betty Contino, community volunteer.
"He's the greatest gentleman this game has ever known. He made professional golf," said Contino.
"Gentleman" was a term that seemed to pop up frequently when guests spoke of Palmer, as it did with event honoree Ray Daue.
"He's a true gentleman. His name is synonymous with philanthropy as well as the game of golf," said an awestruck Daue.
"I asked him if he'd ever broken a club. He said, 'I don't like to talk about that.' But he smiled and it looked like a 'yes' smile," said Bill Kidd, Bill Kidd Toyota president, who was there with Kevin Byrnes, Bay Bank chairman and Ed Kiernan, WBAL RAdio and 98 Rock vice president/general manager.
Meanwhile, the main ballroom was filling with guests anticipating the evening's conversation.
"We're sold out. Over 50 Special Olympic athletes are here and they all got to meet him," said Nate Garland, Special Olympics vice president.
"I met Arnold Palmer when he was here for the Seniors Tournament and I wanted to see him again. At that event, he was the only one who came to thank all the volunteers," said Dennis Connolly, Long & Foster real estate agent. Connolly had come with a large group of friends including: John Daue, Winner Distribution Company executive vice president and Ray Daue's brother; John Harrington, MacKenzie Real Estate senior vice president; Bob Shriver, The Boys Latin School of Maryland head lacrosse coach; Mike Cronin, Corridor Mortgage Group mortgage banker, and John Spilman, Brown Advisory Securities partner.
The group was indicative of the audience in general; it was about 90% men.
"It's a little different," said Mary Anne Lubertine, Fundamental vice president.
"I think we're quite outnumbered," said Claire Infussi, Fundamental assistant to the president. Infussi explained the two had come as guests of her husband, Bob Infussi, Expedite president.
"He's been playing golf since there was dirt," said Infussi with a laugh.
Meanwhile, as the main event approached, Arnold Palmer was still politely chatting with guests in the side room. When asked if all of this meeting and greeting ever got old, even his reply was gentlemanly.
"I didn't hear that question," he responded with a smile. Then he graciously greeted the next guest as the camera flashed yet again.
-- Sloane Brown