Ignatian Circle Benefactors Hosted in Historic Blue Room
In the historic Blue Room at The Roosevelt Hotel, Jesuit thanked its major benefactors for keeping Jesuit affordable, accessible, and thriving. The 2015 Ignatian Circle donor reception brunch, which included more than 200 guests, took place on Sunday, Aug. 29, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Members of the Ignatian Circle donated at least $3,000 to Jesuit in fiscal year 2015, which started on July 1, 2014 and concluded on June 30, 2015.
A special guest took attendees back to the golden age of The Blue Room, which opened its doors on New Year’s Eve 1933.
Historian and Jesuit alumnus Dominic Massa ’94, who produces New Orleans-themed documentaries for WYES and is the executive producer at WWL-TV, started his presentation by asking guests to close their eyes and imagine they were back in the 1940s. He then played an audio clip from a radio program that emanated live from The Blue Room. It was hosted by Don Lewis and was heard around the country on WWL-AM and CBS Radio.
Massa mentioned orchestra leaders Tommy Dorsey, Guy Lombardo, Xavier Cugat, and regular Leon Kelner, and provided a Who’s Who of top-shelf performers who graced The Blue Room stage: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Jimmy Durante, Marlene Dietrich, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, and, in more modern times, Sonny and Cher, James Brown, and Tina Turner.
Noting the smallish size the of the room, Massa quoted show business icon Sophie Wright. “It didn’t matter how big a star you were, you walked through the hotel’s kitchen to get on stage.”
The morning concluded with words of gratitude from Jesuit president Anthony McGinn, S.J. ’66, who thanked benefactors for their support of Jesuit’s Parents’ Annual Giving drive, Living Endowment Fund (the alumni component of the school’s annual giving program), and Parents of Alumni drive. He also thanked supporters for their continued support of Jesuit’s endowment through scholarship donations. Finally, Fr. McGinn discussed completed and upcoming projects including air-conditioning of the gym, the renovation of classrooms on the second, third, and fourth floors, a comprehensive upgrade to the administrative wing (along Banks Street), and the renovation of the historic Holy Name of Jesus Chapel, envisioned and led by Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald, S.J. ’76, who served as president of Jesuit during the 2012-2014 academic years.
Fr. McGinn presented handsome wooden plaques to Lori Ryan for her outstanding work leading the Blue Jay Bazaar and Gerald Duhon for his expert guidance as chairman of the aforementioned PAG campaign. He also thanked Mike Varisco ’83 (LEF chairman), Bob Bartlett ’74 (President’s Advisory Council chairman), and Michelle Lorusso (Celebration) for their exemplary contributions.
Providing the music was a trio that included two Blue Jay alumni, Chris Edmunds ’02 on guitar and Gregory Agid ’05 on sax and clarinet. Joining them on stage were stand-up bassist Mark Brooks and vocalist Christina Perez, Edmunds’s wife.
The Ignatian Circle donor reception moves around the city, often tying into a significant piece of the city’s history. The 2014 event was an evening affair at Lakefront Airport. Other recent venues include the New Orleans Museum of Art, and City Park’s Pavilion of the Two Sisters.
For 2015-16, donor levels that make up the Ignatian Circle are:
- The President’s Club: $25,000 and above
- The Founders Club: $10,000 – $24,999
- The Honors Club: $5,000 – $9,999
- Gallant Fighting Sons: $3,000 – $4,999
Donations for 2015-16 may be made here.