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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 12th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 36

Hobnobbing with Helen


Lisa Long (left) with Yvonne Biely at the Santa Maria Noontime Rotary’s annual fundraiser held Nov. 3 at the Fairpark. Long was event chairperson, and Biely is president of Noontime Rotary.

It’s no secret that Rotary fundraising shindigs are rip-roaring funfests.

Perhaps that’s why 480 people showed up at Santa Maria Noontime Rotary’s annual fundraiser, “Spurs & Diamonds,” held on Nov. 2 at the at Santa Maria Fairpark.

“This is the most [people] we have ever had at this event,” the clearly pleased emcee for the evening, Scott Dunn, told me.

There were lots of cowboy hats and boots and some serious Western-style outfits in the crowd.

Cowgirls and cowboys bellied up to the open bar for the drinks of their dreams, or they sashayed up to the wine tasting tables of Core and Cottonwood wineries.

Then they circled the silent auction tables, perusing a wide variety of items like a Tommy Bahama beach chair, a Stanley wet-and-dry vacuum, all kinds of great wine, jewelry, and, well, just about everything. 

Santa Maria Energy CEO David Pratt and wife Gayle were having too much fun schmoozing and bidding. CEO Pratt introduced me to two-term Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco, who may have filed papers to run for U.S. Congress by the time this column sees print.

Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino, City Manager Rick Haydon and City Councilman Jack Boysen were part of the crowd, as were Nancy Stewart and Planning Commissioner Robert Dickerson and wife Sandra. 

Dr. Robert and Eileen Okerblom and Father Ed Jalbert, development director at St. Joseph High School, were among the enthusiastic attendees. Father Ed gave the invocation.

Sporting a black duster and big, black cowboy hat, Dale Robertson looked like the Marlboro Man—very dramatic and impressive, Dale.

Trattoria Uliveto catered the grub, which included rosemary chicken, short ribs, pinto beans, salad, and garlic bread. Dessert was a medley of cupcakes iced in red, white, or blue, which were arranged in the form of a flag.

The patriotic theme was tied to one of the benefactors of the evening: AmpSurf, an organization that assists disabled people—many of whom are veterans—in enjoying the healing aspects of the ocean. AmpSurf teaches people who have lost limbs how to surf and survive.

(From left to right) Fred and Judy Saunders with Judy and Hardy Hearn got into the Western spirit at Noontime Rotary’s annual fundraiser held Nov. 2 at the Fairpark.

Dr. Rick and Ruth Ann Ontell, Judge Rodney and Vicki Melville, and SB Foundation President Ron Gallo and Andrea Gallo were spotted at the food stations. 

“Spurs & Diamonds” honored Halsell Builders by designating the company the 2013 recipient of the Don Melby Ethics in Business Award.

Of course, there were Halsells all over the place. Margie and Chuck Halsell hosted more than one table of three generations (maybe four?) of family.

The live auction, conducted by the inimitable Jim Glines, was accompanied by a lot of hootin’, hollerin’, and madcap bidding. Monster-size cakes from the Madonna Inn brought premium prices.

Watching the auction action were John and Cindy Ross, Bo Cudd and Dennis Prescott, Amy Curti, and Ashley Payne and Joe Ford. Also in attendance were former Noontime Rotary president Bob Frias, and the Reinachers, John and Dawn.

Richard Cole, Tahir Masood, and Virginia Souza were among those looking good in Western garb. Judy Markline, accompanied by husband Charles, looked like a veritable Annie Oakley, while our local queen of fashion, Judy Hearn (accompanied by husband Hardy), was dressed as a saucy honky-tonk sweetheart.

Tickets to Rotary’s “Spurs & Diamonds” were a very affordable—$50.


If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

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