Co-chairs Susan Wells and Angela Nash went big for Genesis Women's Shelter's 20th annual luncheon at the Hilton Anatole. Befitting the theme "Texas Legends, American Heroes," the duo tapped former president George W. Bush to deliver the keynote address. Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan served as honorary chair.
To begin the momentous event, award-winning musician Rudy Gatlin opened with the national anthem. Then Wells and Nash recognized some of our city's most influential men who have taken a stand against domestic violence: Ray Hunt, Dallas police chief David Brown, Dr. Gerald Turner, Chris Kleinert, Dr. Terry Flowers and Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings.
As supporters dined on all-American favorites such as steaks and cherry pie, Crayton Webb, board president of HeROs, the Genesis Women's Shelter's men's auxiliary group, presented the HeROs award to Rawlings for his willingness to speak out against domestic violence.
"[He] asked us men to attend a rally on March 23 to publicly say, 'Not in my house, not on my street and not in my city,'" Webb said. "And rally we did — very much like today — and a spark was lit."
After Rawlings accepted his award, Genesis Women's Shelter director Jan Langbein sat down with Bush for a Q&A. Although Langbein took the lead, the former president had his own plans, often digressing from the question at hand.
Sitting comfortably on stage, he charmed the audience with anecdotes about life after the presidency and his favorite topic of late: his new grandbaby. When Langbien asked him about getting emotional during the opening of the Bush Presidential Center — which took place only days prior — he explained that it wasn't because of the library. He said that seeing his daughters sobbing over their grandfather got him all choked up.
Attendees set aside their political beliefs for the afternoon and walked away from the luncheon with a newfound perspective on the former president — and, more important, a better understanding of the shelter's mission to end domestic violence.
On the scene for the legendary luncheon: Laura and David Johnson, Melody Rogers, Nancy Rogers, Ellen and John McStay, Robyn Conlon, Gina Betts, Kimberly Westphall, Ashlee Kleinert, Millie and Dr. Ken Cooper, Jan Rees-Jones, Cinda Hicks, and Susan Farris.