Fundraiser will benefit Russert scholarship fund

No, it’s not a mixed metaphor, an oxymoron or a malapropism. Rather it’s a for-real girl’s night out to which the guys are also invited and is dubbed “Face the Nation,” a fundraiser for the Metropolitan St. Louis Press Club’s new Tim Russert Journalism Scholarship. We all know that Russert was the much admired and beloved moderator of NBC’s Sunday morning Meet the Press, but let’s call this poetic license. After all, it’s for a good cause which Russert himself would approve even though it seems to be named for a competitor.

On Wednesday, Sept. 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. there will be a Girl’s Night Out at Neiman Marcus which, according to Press Club president Alice Handelman, will be a “transformative evening” called Face the Nation. Tips from renown makeup artist to the stars Ray Haidar, fragrance layering (your guess is as good as mine), complimentary hand and arm massages, special makeup gift from Neiman Markus plus cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Zodiac Room, will highlight the event. The cost is $75 per person and all proceeds will benefit the Press Club’s new Tim Russert Journalism Scholarship fund. For reservations send your check to Press Club, P.O. Box 410522, Creve Coeur, MO 63141 or visit www.stlpressclub.org for credit card payment.

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Timothy John Russert who died on June 13, 2008 was an American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press. As their Washington bureau chief he covered several presidential elections and was a frequent guest on The Today Show and Hardball. Time Magazine included Russert in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008, and now his 19-year-old son, Luke, will follow in his dad’s footsteps as he will cover the youth perspectives of the presidential election as NBC News correspondent.

Russert would be delighted to know that the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis named their newly-established scholarship for him. It is to be awarded to communications students who will be college juniors or seniors residing in Missouri or attending college in the state. The fundraiser, which Face the Nation chair Susan Fadem calls a “colossal beauty boost,” will also help assure that the quality of journalism achieves the highest standards.

When Donald Abrams died last month, the community lost one of its most caring and creative members. Don cared. He cared about Bev, his wife of almost 65 years. He cared about his kids and grandkids, about his friends, about civil rights, about poetry, about art, about his brothers and sister-in-laws, about almost everything worth while and he didn’t just care — he did something about it. Don, educated as an attorney, was a businessman who retired to become a renaissance man. He was painter, photographer, poet, and philosopher. While president of Werner-Hilton, Don sponsored a recital at the St. Louis Art Museum by William Paul, an African-American pianist/composer and one of Don’s employees. The guy needed a hand up, he told me.

Somehow Don discovered that Professor Arnold J. Lien, a terribly shy elderly bachelor and the head of the Political Science Department at Washington University, was a poet. After two or three years of researching Dr. Lien’s writing and meeting with his relatives, Don produced Lien Inspirations; a Passionate Patriot’s Poems, two slim, illustrated volumes of his poetry. I believe that Don wanted the work to go to the new university dormitory named for the illustrious professor. That has not yet happened.

Don loved to paint and painted portraits of his entire family. He even did a mural at Momo’s, a Greek restaurant in University City. It started with Bev, who had lunch there when the owner showed her a tiny picture of ancient Greece and its inhabitants. He explained that he was looking for an artist to reproduce it on one of the restaurant’s walls, and Bev, ever confident of Don’s ability, said “My husband can do that!” and he did. He would never take a penny for the work but was assured that he was welcome to all the baklava he could eat.

A whiz at the computer, Don was famous for his portrait cubes, five pictures head-to-toe of the subject. And no event went undocumented as Don was there with digital camera (long before I understood what that meant) recording an anniversary, or birthday or maybe just a remembrance of our tennis game or the “girls” at bridge. He was a unique individual who will be sorely missed.