Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1986 to 2012

The Illinois Andrew Society has just completed its 167th Dinner in honor of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. It was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue and was an excellent event - good food, haggis, and excellent music. Anika Strolle, Heather Queen, is a beautiful young woman. The Haggis children belong to Sally and Rob Johnston. Mr. & Mrs. Bill McLeod of Brookfield were the Clansman and Clanswoman.

One unplanned event was the introduction of Robert Cameron who has just celebrated his 100th birthday. (To our present knowledge he is the oldest member of the Society.) His father, William Cameron, was president of the Society in 1934. The Cameron family, who haven’t attended in a long time, occupied an entire table next to mine. Thanks to Jim Bell for making this exception. Good job.

 President Gus Noble presented an inspiring address as he talked about the future of the Society.

I started working for the St. Andrew’s Society in January, 1986, so my first Dinner was at the Chicago Hilton and Towers on November 8 of that year. The entertainer was James Nicol and the Master of Ceremonies was Jim Ruddle of Channel 5 news. The Marshall was George M. Wood and the Color Bearers were David J. Cameron and Edward C. Rorison. The Heather Queen was Lisa Noble and the Haggis Child was John Michael Lawless. Ian Swinton was the Pipe Major for The Pipes and Drums of the Midlothian Scottish Pipe Band. James Sim, Jr., was the Drum Major. The Lone Piper, (which we didn’t have this year, I think because of time constraints) was Tom Ogilvy.

The awards were given by Donald A. Gillies, President, Illinois Saint Andrew Society. The distinguished citizen was Frederick G. Jaicks, Chairman of Inland Steel Company. The Clansman was Peter Georgeson and Helen Georgeson was the Clanswoman. The “Humanitarian Award for 1986" was given to the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell. It was given as a “special citation for humanitarian services for the less fortunate in society.” (Does anyone remember what that was about?)

The Banquet Committee in 1986 consisted of: Robert J. Black, David J. Cameron, C. Robert Douglas, Francis Gillan, Donald A. Gillies, Vilma Martin, Angus J. Ray, Jr., June Steele and Shelia Wilson. (To our knowledge four of these people are now deceased.) June Steele was in charge of decorating the tables and she always managed to have heather.

The biggest change, I suppose, is in the music. For years the Society had brought over a singer from Scotland. It was the big decision! There was never a question about the location. That hadn’t changed for 50 years. It was always the Chicago Hilton. I am sometimes sorry we don’t have a singer now because we are raising a generation who have never heard the great old songs of Scotland. Songs like, “The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen” as sung by Kenneth McKellar or the Alexander Brothers.

Having said that, I enjoyed the music this year. Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Hass were terrific. Then, to have them joined by Rachel Barton Pine made the event even more spectacular. They were also joined by another young man, whom I met but can’t remember his name. I do remember that he was a champion fiddler. In my opinion, it was excellent entertainment.

I didn’t get home with a program so I can’t list the members of the committee for this year but they did a great job and our table thoroughly enjoyed the event. The Thistle & Highland Dancers under the direction of Nancy Strolle are always enjoyable and the Pipe Band was a grade one band - you can hardly say more.

One more year gone. Next year we will celebrate 168 years and planning is already underway!

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew Society

The Annual Meeting and Christmas Party of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society will be held on December 9, 2012 (3:00-5:00 p.m.) in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home, 28th and Des Plaines, North Riverside, IL. Please RSVP to Kristen Guthrie or call 708-426-7127.

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