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Ruth Bancroft Garden 25 June 2023

Newsletter | Jul/Sep 2023

Volume 51:3
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In this issue:
Editor's Note - Mui Ho
More on the Gala - Charlayne Sakamoto
Gala - Betty Woo

Editor's Note

by Mui Ho    |    Share #1618

The OWA 50th Anniversary Gala, held at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, brought out many old members as well as first-time new members. The idea of having various celebrations during each 10th anniversary year is still working well. It is an OWA tradition to have many activities during the year to accommodate our members' schedule and diverse interests. (Although we somehow missed our Bay-to-Breaker run this year).

Having the Gala in Ruth Bancroft Garden was a wonderful choice. It is a world renowned garden created by a woman and the first garden for draught tolerant plants in this country. The garden has inspired many similar gardens around the world.

Ruth Bancroft, born Ruth Petersson from Immigrant Swedish parents, grew up in Berkeley. She enrolled in UC Berkeley in 1926. Her original enrollment was in architecture but when the Wall Street Crash of 1929 with no jobs in the building industry, she decided to get a teaching certificate. She was always interested in plants and nature. When she and her husband Philip Bancroft inherited this 3.5 acres of land from his grandfather, it was her opportunity to create her dream garden.

She was interested in native plants and she was particularly interested in the draught-tolerant native plants in the desert climate of California. The creation of such a garden expressed her conviction about living in harmony with nature. She was way ahead of her time.

More photos of the 50th Anniversary Garden Gala are here

More on the Gala

by Charlayne Sakamoto    |    Share #1629

Finding a venue that we hadn't utilized in previous years proved to be a significant challenge. As architects and designers, our criteria included being centrally located and aesthetic appeal. After a thorough search, the committee unanimously settled on The Ruth Bancroft Garden. It fulfilled all our requirements, and the added bonus was the exquisite gardens surrounding the event center.

In order to make the most of the venue, we chose to schedule the Gala on the longest day of the year. While we vigorously planned the event, we remained committed to creating an inviting and memorable environment for members to reconnect. This event marked our first major gathering post COVID, and we were mindful of our members' desire for a space to rekindle connections with both old and new friends.

Two of the committee members, Nazila and Sara Mae took the lead on creating the elaborate paper flowers, which were showstoppers. Gilda, Cammy, Betty and Charlayne worked on the musical playlist.

As members entered the venue, twinkling lights guided their way towards the paper flowers. These flowers provided a stunning backdrop for photo opportunities. The table adjacent to the photo booth was abundant with OWADP memorabilia spanning the past 50 years. Retreat books, aged newsletters, directories, and photographs from previous gatherings and events were all on display. It offered a wonderful opportunity to reminisce about the past. Members talk about the challenges they faced in the past and the journey that led them to where they are today, reflecting on how OWADP played a pivotal role in shaping their lives during that time.

Throughout the night, appetizers and drinks were strategically placed throughout the venue to encourage members to visit the stunning gardens and meander the paths. A variety of Paella was served as the main course. During dessert service, the OWADP logo was unveiled.

After dinner, Charlayne Sakamoto thanked the committee. Sara Mae spoke about Ruth Bancroft and the gardens, acknowledging the land and Ruth Bancroft’s ties to architecture. Betty Woo acknowledged the longtime members with a certificate of appreciation and an orchid. Janet Crane presented a recap and highlights over each decade. She spoke about the mid-career retreats and the healthcare plan and how OWADP was crucial for a lot of people. To close, Gilda rounded out the speeches by introducing the Silent Auction.

The Gala raised money for the organization by hosting a silent auction. Items were donated by members as well as patrons outside of the organization. A few of the donations were 2 weeks in Ecuador at Gilda’s vacation rental and a framed watercolor of Westerbeke Ranch by Judy Rowe. The Gala Committee raised over $1,700 for the Gala/Organization.


by Betty Woo    |    Share #1626

The committee was Charlayne, Gilda, Nazila, Sara Mae, Ann Wright, Allison Kinst and Dede. Charlayne was our leader and did most, if not all, of the heavy lifting. All we did was support her as much as we could. Also helping were: Marda, Cammy, Ann Lee Hughes and Jiane.

There were some pretty fabulous silent auction items. Some of the highlights were a gorgeous water color of the Westerbeke pool by Judy Rowe (a $900 value, but no one had the heart to bid against Janet Crane) and a vacation condo stay at the beach in Ecuador donated by Gilda and Jeff Peters. I myself was able to snag a lovely mixed media painting by Jiane Du and a wood bowl hand-turned by Suzan Swarbacker’s husband. Gilda and I contributed the little succulent plants that were given out as party favors Ann Wright, Cammie White and others, helped to pot them. The auction turned out to be a great success. We all got some real bargains and nearly everything sold except for a very few small items and some plants that I forgot to label. It was great fun to see so many original art works by OWADP members.

Ann Lee Hughes designed and contributed the special awards, two of which were awarded at the party one to Janet Crane as president and to Rosemary Muller as an original signer of the OWA incorporation papers. We had 2 additional awards to bestow that day, one for Mui Ho and one for Judy Rowe, but since both were not there we held on to them for later.

More Gala photos can be found on our web site

 Share #1619

50th anniversary cake

This 50th flower display was created by the Gala committee. It is a photo booth and worked fabulous to decorate the hall where they had the dinner.

Mignon' O'Young's daughter Eveline

More photos from the Gala

Remembering Suzanne Stewart

 Share #1628

Suzanne passed away two months ago after fighting cancer for more than five years. Most of our members will remember her as the trainer for our 40th anniversary Bay-to-Breakers run in 2013. Many of us including Marda and Gilda continued our walk/run training with Suzanne for a couple more years until she came down with cancer. Suzanne was very athletic and participated in many training programs. She had led a small hard core group for many years that started at five in the morning and finished six thirty. I still remember she could do a one hand push up.

Suzanne was born in San Francisco 1957, raised in Orange County and was a graduate of Cal State Fullerton. She moved to San Francisco soon after finishing college and never looked back. She had one son who moved back to SF to be near her during her last years and a brother who took care of her in her last months.

Suzanne worked in the field of design for many years and later worked independently as a color consultant as well as an interior designer. She joined OWA in the nineties and served on the OWA Steering Committee. She was also a docent with SFMOMA and passionate and knowledgeable about modern art. She used her artistic talent in her beautiful succulent garden.

Rachel Sloniki and I are neighbors with Suzanne and being close by,
we could visit her and hang out when she became less mobile. We will miss our good trainer, tea in the garden and her fun spirit.
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