Name Dropping – The Jewel Ball

The ladies who lead the activities of The Jewel Ball each year share a very special bond, as well as a sense of humor, comfortable shoes and an enormous amount of respect for two cultural pillars of the Kansas City community – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kansas City Symphony. In order to understand what it is really like to be at the helm of Our Town’s well-respected social event, we asked some former chairmen what kind of advice and counsel they have for this year’s chairman, Nancy Dreyer Sachse. 

170508081506_0001
Nancy Dreyer and Eugene Charles Dreyer II at the 1981 Jewel Ball.

Nancy is very keen on keeping the traditions of The Jewel Ball alive and well, so what are the past chairmen’s favorite traditions? “The presentation in Kirkwood Hall” came in at a solid first place, followed by “the special evening and experience with fathers.” The Debutante Tea is very well liked, particularly now that grandmothers are included. The waltz is also at the top of the list. (Although we can’t help but wonder if the dads would have that same choice as their favorite tradition!) Pam Sutherland Gyllenborg quoted her mother, Barbara Sutherland Thompson and said, “There is the old tradition of a woman being presented to society by her father and to eligible suitors.” She also added that, “by today’s standards, it demonstrates a grateful, confident daughter saying goodbye and setting out on her own to conquer the world.”

Working with the volunteers is also a favorite memory of past chairmen, such as Nancy Embry Thiessen. She added that her favorite memories were of her brothers being the announcers, and the newly minted tradition of her husband, Mike, escorting her into the Ball. (Previously, chairmen were already on the stage with the Museum and Symphony representatives.) Page Branton Reed’s understandably happy memory is her coffee talk interview with her wonderful mother, Mary Shaw “Shawsie” Branton at the Chairmen’s Coffee

Pieces of advice are always helpful, and the past chairmen were nearly unanimous on this – breathe and enjoy the evening! Stay in the moment, take in the glorious sights and sounds and enjoy the culmination of your work and the efforts of the volunteers. And take care of yourself. 

Because we can’t forget the devoted spouses of Jewel Ball chairmen, here are some thoughts for Mark Sachse: help Nancy keep her sense of humor, just “be there” for her (Which, according to one former Mr. Chairman is just saying ‘yes’ to her!), act like the parent of the groom – be supportive, bite your tongue when necessary, have fun at the parties, get to know the participants, and enjoy the night of the Ball!

Probably most importantly, we asked our chairmen why The Jewel Ball is so important to Kansas City. The support of The Nelson-Atkins Museum and Kansas City Symphony is paramount to the continued success of Our Town. Also of great importance is the exposure this venerable event provides for young people. The elegant evening and the events leading up to it breed respect for traditions, older generations, non-profit organizations, families, and friendships. Lisa Jones Schellhorn summed it up eloquently: “This tradition could be outdated, but it is not. Part of the appeal is the pomp and ceremony of the Ball. Part of its appeal is recognizing the community involvement of families over many years. But I think its prime importance is the introduction of young women and men to the concept of being a part of a great community, their recognition that they can make a difference and the support of two of Kansas City’s prominent institutions.” We couldn’t agree more and wish Nancy and all of the volunteers and participants a successful and enjoyable evening on June 17th.

Also featured in the May 13, 2017 issue
By: Anne Russ