As part of Palm Beach’s 100th-anniversary celebration, 42 leaders with longtime ties to the town accepted the honor of serving as “Centennial Ambassadors,” Centennial Commission Chairman Bill Bone said at a Nov. 23 reception attended by many of the honorees at The Colony.
“They have made their mark in the worlds of business, service and charity or in intangible forums like the universe of ideas, style and elegance,” Bone said after the reception, adding that each has ties to the town stretching back at least five decades.
“The Centennial Ambassadors are rich in the resources that matter most, like friends, family and the ties that bind them to this town,” Bone said. “There are other people just as successful, and there are even people who have lived here as long or longer. But the Centennial Ambassadors are individuals who have all these attributes and a connection to the town for at least 50 years, making these people special, even by Palm Beach standards.”
The ambassadors will be recognized at all official Centennial events and also will be honored April 16, 2011, at the Centennial Dinner Gala, a black-tie event at The Breakers. The gala will be part of a full weekend of events geared around the anniversary of the town’s incorporation on April 17, 1911.
Here are brief biographical sketches that highlight some of the achievements of the honorees.
James Y. Arnold Jr.
James Y. Arnold Jr. today lives with his wife, Roberta, not far from the site of Rabbit Hill, a significant home in Palm Beach history and the subject of a Florida historical marker on South Lake Trail. Henry M. Flagler had purchased the property from pioneer Dr. John H. Brelsford in 1901, and, in 1944, it was sold to Arnold’s father, who housed a well-known collection of orchids there. Arnold, a builder, has been an active supporter of the Norton Museum of Art, where he served as president of the board of trustees.
Lillian “Lian” Fanjul de Azqueta, wife of Norberto Azqueta Sr. and a member of one of Palm Beach’s most prominent families, founded two charitable organizations to help families living in poverty. New Hope Charities, created in 1988, helps foster sustainable communities in South Florida’s Glades area near the Fanjul family’s sugar-production facilities, while the MIR Foundation does similar work in the Dominican Republic. She serves as a director and president of both. She also serves on the board of Flo-Sun Inc. and is a moderator of the Vatican Council on International Health.
Longtime Palm Beach resident Mary Bolton was married to the late Kenyon C. Bolton, a philanthropist, military officer and diplomat. The Boltons’ architect son Kenyon “Tim” Bolton III designed for his mother Figulus III and Figulus IV, an award-wining home named after the 1893 house that his great-grandfather, Charles W. Bingham, built as Palm Beach’s first oceanfront mansion. Members of the Bingham family have owned property here for four generations. A longtime member of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, Mary Bolton has supported Opportunity Inc. and other organizations.
Helen Cluett has made her mark on Palm Beach in a variety of ways since she moved here in 1959 with Bill, her late husband. Cluett was one of the early supporters of Opportunity Inc., which recently celebrated its 70th birthday as Palm Beach’s oldest charity. The organization provides high-quality child care, preschool education and parenting/life skills training for low-income and at-risk families. Cluett also has been involved with the United Way, the Norton Museum of Art and The Society of the Four Arts. She also is well known for her staunch support of the Republican Party.
Edith Robb Dixon
When Edith Robb married Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr. in 1952, she became part of the Widener family; her husband’s mother was Eleanor Widener Dixon, who survived the sinking of the Titanic. In Palm Beach, businessman F. Eugene Dixon — a horse breeder who once owned the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and co-owned the NFL’s Philadelphia Phillies — served 18 years as board chairman of The Society of the Four Arts. After his death in 2006, his wife assumed that position until this year. She has continued the couple’s legacy of support for charities, and educational and medical institutions.
Alex W. Dreyfoos
The driving force behind the creation of the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Dreyfoos is a graduate of both MIT and Harvard Business School. He owns 10 U.S. and countless foreign patents in the fields of electronics and photography. He is the founder of Photo Electronics Corp., a manufacturer of equipment for the photographic industry. The company earned and received an Academy Award for its development of a motion-picture video color negative analyzer. Dreyfoos owned controlling interest in WPEC TV-12, the CBS television affiliate in West Palm Beach, from 1973 to 1996, when he sold it for $164 million. That sale led to the establishment of the Dreyfoos Group, the private capital management firm of which he is founder and chairman. He is married to Renate Dreyfoos
Ambassador Edward E. Elson
From 1993 to 1998, Edward E. Elson served as U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. Among his many other accomplishments, he was the rector of the University of Virginia, the first chairman of National Public Radio and the first chairman of the NPR Foundation. He also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In Palm Beach, he has taken leadership roles with The Society of the Four Arts and the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. Elson’s mother and father first came to Palm Beach in 1959, and he and his wife, Susie, became permanent residents 40 years later.
Alfonso ‘Alfy’ Fanjul
Alfonso J. “Alfy” Fanjul Jr. has served as chairman and CEO of Fanjul Corp. and Florida Crystals Corp. After the Castro regime took possession of Fanjul property in Cuba, the family launched new ventures in the United States, with an emphasis on sugar production. Today Fanjul Corp. is an agriculture, real estate, resort and energy company. Among his charitable interests, he co-founded Mission International Rescue Charities in the Dominican Republic and is a national trustee of the University of Miami and a member of the Florida Council of 100. He is married to Raysa Fanjul.
Jose ‘Pepe’ Fanjul
Jose “Pepe” Fanjul — whose family came to the United States from Cuba in 1959 following its Communist revolution — has served as vice chairman, CEO and president of Fanjul Corp. and Florida Crystals Corp., two Fanjul family-owned companies principally engaged in the production of sugar. Fanjul also has assumed leadership roles in Central Romana Corp., the largest privately held company in the Dominican Republic. Among the charities he and his wife, Emelia, support, he serves as chairman of New Hope Charities, an organization founded by his sister, Lillian “Lian” Fanjul de Azqueta, to help foster sustainable communities in Florida and the Dominican Republic.
Dame Celia Lipton Farris
The singer, actress, businesswoman and author exemplifies the town’s charitable ethic. An AIDS research supporter, she also is the recipient of the Clara Barton Award, the highest honor of the American Red Cross, as well as the Salvation Army’s highest recognition, the Eliza Shirley Award. The widow of Victor Farris, she is a two-time recipient of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce Charitable Achievement Award, and is the first recipient of the American Cancer Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which is now called the Dame Celia Farris Lifetime Achievement Award. While a teenager in war-torn London, she entertained the troops, returning 50 years later to perform for a half-million people at a D-Day commemorative concert in Hyde Park. For her patriotism and charitable achievement, she was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II.
With her late husband, businessman Max Fisher, Marjorie Fisher has been an active force in community and charitable service, most recently receiving the Distinguished Community Citizen Award from the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. Her many local charitable interests have included the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and its new facility, named for Max Fisher, in Riviera Beach. She has also supported the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, the Jewish Federation and the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.
Jane R. and Robert M. Grace
Among the causes they have supported in Palm Beach and vicinity, Jane and Robert M. Grace are well known for their support of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. Its handsome library was named in honor of Robert M. Grace, a founder of the foundation, by his wife, who serves on its board. A longtime town councilman, he also chaired the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. At The Society of the Four Arts, the Rovensky Building is named in honor of Jane Grace’s family. She also is chairwoman emeritus of the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League’s board of directors.
Dr. Robert Green
Born in New York, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Green has lived in Florida since 1937. A year later, his father, Murray Green, opened Green’s Pharmacy, an island institution that continues to operate as a drug store with a popular dining area serving breakfast and lunch. Green has lived in Palm Beach since 1949 and opened his West Palm Beach practice in 1965. He is former chairman of the medical staff and chief of orthopedics at Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he also was a physician adviser. He is married to Elizabeth Green.
Diana B.B. Holt
With her longtime interest in archaeological projects in China and East Africa, Diana Busch Blabon Holt joined her late husband, Charles, in supporting a variety of charitable and medical organizations, including the South Florida Science Museum, the Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults and the Mental Health Associaton. A champion-level bridge player, she helped spearhead the formation of the Palm Beach Bridge Club.
The late Frances Hufty
Frances Hufty, who died Nov. 20 at age 98, was an avid supporter of environmental causes and conservation long before such causes were popular. She served as trustees chairwoman of the Archbold Biological Station, founded by her brother, Richard Archbold, in central Florida and the state’s most significant land holding of sand pine scrub; and Palm Beach County’s Pine Jog Environmental Educational Center, with which she was involved from its inception. She was married to the late M.R. Page Hufty, an insurance executive and financier.
Mary Hulitar is well known for her board service at The Society of the Four Arts and for continuing the legacy established by her late husband in the organization’s Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden, named for the public-spirited leader and prominent American couturier who helped create it and fund its maintenance. The garden was completely redesigned several years ago, creating a space even more welcoming to visitors and residents of Palm Beach.
Edward M. Kassatly
With his brother Bob, Edward M, Kassatly runs Kassatly’s linen emporium, the oldest store on Worth Avenue, established by their father, Sam, a European immigrant who had a linen shop in Southampton, N.Y., before opening a Miami store and, in 1923, the Palm Beach store in the original retail hub near Seminole Avenue and Bradley Place. Today married to Cami, Ed Kassatly is a past president of the Worth Avenue Association of merchants and the Worth Avenue Property Owners’ Association.
Thomas S. Kenan III
Born in Durham, N.C., Thomas Kenan III descends from the family that included Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, widow of Henry M. Flagler. Kenan is a vice chairman and director of Flagler System Inc., a family business that has owned The Breakers Palm Beach for four generations. He was formerly chairman of the board of Kenan Transport Company, a petroleum transport business, a position he held until the company’s sale in 2001. Kenan is active with a number of civic and philanthropic organizations that include the Kenan Family Foundation. He also serves as secretary of the Flagler Museum’s board of trustees.
Sidney A. Kohl
With strong business and family ties to the Midwest, longtime Palm Beach resident Sidney Kohl has an extensive background in the real estate industry. Co-founder of Alliant Asset Management Co. and Alliant Inc. of Florida, Kohl has developed two large regional malls as managing partner, along with commercial and residential projects. In Palm Beach, he has served on a variety of civic boards and he and his wife, Dorothy, actively support several Palm Beach civic and charitable organizations, including Town of Palm Beach United Way, the Intracoastal Health Foundation, the Kravis Center and the Norton Museum of Art.
Leonard A. Lauder
Leonard A. Lauder is a member of the second of four generations to call Palm Beach home, as he first came to the island with his parents, Estée and Joseph. Today, his children and grandchildren continue the tradition. As chairman of the Estée Lauder Co., founded by his parents, he works side by side with his wife, Evelyn, who is founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Lauder is a trustee and chairman of the Whitney Museum of Art, serves on the president’s council of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and is a charter trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2002, Lauder was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
Elsie G. Leviton
A longtime proponent of social causes, women’s rights and civic responsibility, Elsie Leviton is a past president of the Florida League of Women Voters and was honored in 2008 for her years of service to Palm Beach County’s Education and Government Programming Advisory Board. She honored her late husband, pediatrician Laurence Leviton, by naming a room in the Palm Healthcare Pavilion devoted to diabetes education and research after him. She also devoted 40 years to building and managing the library collection at Temple Israel in West Palm Beach. She was also named outstanding woman of the year by the county’s United Nations chapter.
H. Irwin Levy
As one of the three original investors in the first Century Village retirement community — and later the chairman of its development company — Irwin Levy has put his fortune to good use. Trained as an attorney, Levy has been a longtime supporter of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. His son, Mark Levy, was installed this year as the federation’s president, a role Mark’s late mother, Jeanne, had also held. Irwin and his present wife, Ellen, are one of three couples who will co-chair the American Friends of Hebrew University’s 2011 Palm Beach Scopus Awards Gala at The Breakers.
Paul L. ‘Jay’ Maddock Jr.
Paul L. “Jay” Maddock Jr. is a fourth-generation Palm Beacher whose great grandfather, Henry Maddock, built his home, Duck’s Nest, in 1891 on property that then stretched from the Intracoastal to the ocean. Henry’s son, Sidney Maddock, among his development projects, built the 1902 Palm Beach Hotel, which burned down after catching fire from the same blaze that destroyed The Breakers in 1925. Paul Maddock Sr. eventually restored Duck’s Nest, which has since been landmarked. The family property also houses the original Bethesda-by-the-Sea church, a deconsecrated structure that became the family home. In 2008 the land was subdivided into six lots. Today, Jay Maddock’s business interests include Palamad Development Company Inc. and The Maddock Companies. With his wife, Lynn, he supports a variety of philanthropic causes.
Morton L. Mandel
Although he has deep ties to Ohio, Morton L. Mandel has had a family home in Palm Beach for some 50 years. He is the chairman and CEO of Parkwood Corp. He is also chairman of the Mandel Foundation, a major force in Jewish philanthropy. He founded leadership institutes in Jerusalem and Negev, Israel, and is the founding president of the World Conference of Jewish Community Centers. He is a board director of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, which established the Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership. Through family foundations and with his wife, Barbara, he also supports the Jewish Community Center of the Greater Palm Beaches.
George G. Matthews
The great-grandson of Henry M. Flagler, George G. Matthews has been president of the Flagler Museum’s board of trustees since 1960. Professionally, he manages diverse real estate and commercial investments, as well as philanthropic interests. An avid wildlife enthusiast, he was recently inducted into the International Gamefishing Hall of Fame. His extensive community service includes serving on the Palm Beach Town Council for 16 years, eight of those as president. He is also a chairman emeritus of the Palm Beach Civic Association.
William M. Matthews
William M. Matthews is the son of Henry M. Flagler’s granddaughter, Jean Flagler Matthews, and the longtime treasurer of the trustees of the Flagler Museum, founded by his mother. He has been involved with investments and venture capital activities for more than 25 years. Married to Jean L. Rhodes Matthews, he is active with the Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Over the past decade, he has focused on nonprofit and charitable concerns, including the Palm Beach Day Academy, The Society of the Four Arts and the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.
For decades, society icon Brownie McLean has enjoyed Palm Beach’s active social scene and supported numerous causes in the process. Born Mildred Brown — hence “Brownie — she became popular on the island’s social scene after marrying the late John R. “Jock” McLean, the son of Ned and Evelyn McLean, who once owned the Hope Diamond. The couple owned El Salano, the Mizner-designed oceanfront mansion Brownie later sold to John and Yoko Ono. She’s a supporter of the Global Futures Foundation. In 2009, the American Red Cross honored her for her lifetime of service — she has attended more than 40 of the charity’s 53 Palm Beach balls.
Ogden Mills ‘Dinny’ Phipps
The fourth generation — his great-grandfather Henry Phipps was Andrew Carnegie’s partner — of a monied family that at one time owned 28 miles of coastline between Miami and Palm Beach, Ogden Mills Phipps is the former chairman of his family’s bank, Bessemer Trust. Known as “Dinny,” he continues the family tradition of breeding champion horses and is a recipient of the Eclipse Award, the racing industry’s highest honor. Married to Andrea, Phipps is a past chairman of the Jockey Club of New York and of the New York State Racing Association, and a board member of the Breeders’ Cup. He is a member of the board of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
David V. Reese
A fourth-generation Palm Beacher, David V. Reese is a member of a Palm Beach pioneer family that arrived on the island in 1876. His great-grandfather Elisha Newton “Cap” Dimick was the town’s first mayor. His father, Claude D. Reese Sr., and grandfather, Thomas Tipton Reese, also served as mayor. David Reese remains involved in the town’s oldest real estate firm, named for his father; the family also had a longtime insurance agency of the same name. Reese is a founder of the Eastern Surfing Association, co-founder of the Palm Beach County Surfing Association and member of the Surfing Heritage Foundation. His wife was the late Jean Hurst Reese.
Janet R. Reynolds was married to the late Wiley R. Reynolds Jr., the longest-serving president of First National Bank of Palm Beach. In 1940, she was responsible for founding the Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults, among Palm Beach’s oldest social-service agencies; her husband’s family in 1949 donated property for the center on Royal Palm Way. Today, Reynolds is an honorary board member of the center, having spent seven decades helping people with physical challenges. Other causes that were supported by the couple include Adopt-A-Family, Good Samaritan Medical Center, The Society of the Four Arts and the Norton Museum. She is a member of Colonial Dames of America.
Doyle and Barbara Massey Rogers
A graduate of the University of Florida and its law school, Doyle Rogers is a shareholder in the law firm of Alley, Maass, Rogers & Lindsay. Rogers and his wife, Barbara Massey, daughter of Tennessee philanthropist Jack Massey, are active in many civic and charitable projects, including The Society of the Four Arts, the Palm Beach Membership of Hospice Foundation of Palm Beach County Inc., the Palm Beach Civic Association, the Town of Palm Beach United Way and the Community Foundation. Doyle Rogers also is president of the University of Florida Foundation and the school’s national alumni group and a former member of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the Southern District of Florida.
Dr. Saul D. Rotter
A specialist in internal medicine and clinical cardiology, native New Yorker Dr. Saul Rotter moved to South Florida in 1941 and retired in 2002 after 61 years as a physician. Since the 1940s, Rotter has served as a medical adviser to the Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults. Noted for his massive seashell collection, he donated most of it to the South Florida Science Museum. He is also a longtime volunteer at the King Library of The Society of the Four Arts. His wife was the late Margaret Waldman Rotter.
Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau
Proving that there are, indeed, second acts in life, the well-born young Palm Beach matron with the orange juice stand, then married to Peter Pulitzer, became a fashion icon when her prep-school classmate Jacqueline Kennedy was photographed wearing one of her splashy tropical designs. She closed the business in 1984. Remarried to the late Enrique Rousseau, she was content with her gardens, her grandchildren and her advocacy for animal protection when a licensing deal put her at fashion’s forefront again. To this day, her name is synonymous with Palm Beach’s much-envied style.
Stanley M. Rumbough Jr.
A recipient of the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Stanley Rumbough is a graduate of St. Mark’s in Southborough, Mass., and Yale. As chairman of the Palm Beach Civic Association, he built a small group of residents into a cohesive organization of 2,000 members that is now a powerful political force. Among his charitable interests are the Washington Tennis and Education Center, which he founded; Planned Parenthood; and the Town of Palm Beach United Way. He is a life trustee of the International House and served on the board of the Kravis Center. Rumbough received the Pride of Palm Beach Award from the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce earlier this year. He is married to Janna Rumbough.
Kathryn ‘Kay’ Rybovich
The master bridge player, conservationist and storehouse of historical knowledge is the daughter of a Danish sea captain. She moved to Palm Beach in 1924 and graduated from Palm Beach High School. She adopted from her late husband, John Rybovich Jr., a love of fishing and with him advocated for maritime conservation, especially catch-and-release practices. In 1955, with two friends over a table at the Sailfish Club, she founded the International Women’s Fishing Association. She was inducted into the International Gamefishing Hall of Fame in 2008. She also has supported the South Florida Science Museum.
Rose Sachs and her late husband, Mortimer Sachs, arrived in the early 1940s in Palm Beach, where for several years they owned Palm Beach Mercantile department store. But they became intimately involved in the life of the town after purchasing Addison Mizner’s Via Mizner and his tower apartment, the Villa Mizner. (A tombstone in Via Mizner famously marks the final resting place of the couple’s dog, Laddie.) Over the years, the couple bought and developed many properties on Worth Avenue. She has supported many charitable causes, most particularly Palm Beach Atlantic University, of which she and her husband were major benefactors.
Lesly S. Smith
The second generation of a four-generation Palm Beach family, Lesly Smith is a former town councilwoman, council president and mayor. She is a trustee of the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, founded by her late husband, U.S. Ambassador Earl E.T. Smith, and served on the boards of the Pitt Foundation, the Palm Healthcare Foundation, the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation and the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. She also is a longtime member of the Garden Club of Palm Beach. She served as president of the Fortin Family Foundation, which has supported Opportunity Inc., the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, the Town of Palm Beach United Way and the Animal Rescue League, among many others.
Dr. Donald E. and Betty Anne ‘Bebe’ Warren
Cardiologist Dr. Donald E. Warren is the founding chairman of Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he served as chairman of the trustees for 38 years before retiring in 2007; the West Palm Beach university’s library is named for him. Meanwhile, he built a successful medical practice. He is a past president of the American Heart Association, Palm Beach County Chapter; and of the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Among her efforts for Palm Beach Atlantic, Betty Anne “Bebe” Warren founded the Woman of Distinction Award and was its longtime chairwoman. She chaired the Good Samaritan Medical Center ball in 1993.
Floyd L. Wideman Jr.
Married to Lois, Floyd L. Wideman Jr. has been an active volunteer with the Town of Palm Beach, serving for a decade on the Architectural Commission (1996-2006) and as both an alternate and voting member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. A retired manufacturing executive, he also served on the committee that oversaw the recent renovation of the Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course.
Society Editor Shannon Donnelly contributed to this story.
Link to original article. Thanks to the Palm Beach Daily News