Gold Star Wives Banquet a Grand Finale to National Convention
Story and photos by Lisa Perry
Gold Star Wives Grand Banquet
at Renaissance Denver Hotel benefiting Gold Star Wives of America at 6 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. dinner
With a combination of military protocol, the warmth and camaraderie of shared experiences, plus the added theme of “Color Yourself Colorado” hospitality, this year’s Gold Star Wives Grand Banquet lived up to its name for 250 attendees. The event, held at the Renaissance Denver Hotel on Saturday, July 13, was a fitting finale to the five-day, 68th annual Gold Star Wives national convention. A brief rain storm turned the hotel parking garage into a shallow Lake Renaissance for a bit, but that wasn’t enough to deter arriving guests, dressed up and ready for an enjoyable event.
The evening began with a cocktail reception and silent auction before the crowd adjourned to the ballroom for dinner. Gold Star Wives were escorted to their tables to by Young Marines, Colorado Air Patrol Cadets, as well as friends and family members. Music was provided by the 101st Army Jazz Combo, from Buckley Air Force Base. United States Marines of the 453 Combat Logistics Battalion, also from Buckley AFB, presented the colors, and Jazmyn Gaylord (daughter of SSgt Gaylord, active duty, 743MI BN), sang the national anthem. Janet Snyder, GSWA national chaplain, led the invocation.
Emcee James Gillespie immediately shared his civilian status with the crowd, and admirably hosted the program without a hitch. Outgoing national president Jeanette Early gave a shout-out to Colorado hosts and reminisced about her term in office. NORAD commander, Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., and Brig. Gen. Robert W. Enzenaur, assistant adjutant general space, Colorado National Guard, also addressed the crowd and honored the Gold Star Wives in their talks. Special GSW quilts were presented to Wilma Turney, widowed since 1943, and Adri Loughmiller. The evening ended with award presentations and an installation for new national officers, including incoming GSWA president, Harriet Boyden.
Gold Star Wives of America is an organization of widows and widowers whose spouses lost their lives while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or died as the result of a military service-connected disability. Gold Star Wives was formed during World War II, and Eleanor Roosevelt was a memberand one of the original 15 signers when the organization was incorporated in the State of New York in 1945. It is a nonproﬁt national military widows’ service organization chartered by the United States Congress.
The primary mission of Gold Star Wives is to provide service, support and friendship to these widows and widowers, also assisting survivors in understanding and obtaining beneﬁts. The organization works with Congress, the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Aﬀairs and other veterans’ service organizations to improve and enhance beneﬁts for survivors.
A short downpour that caused some local flooding, including the hotel parking garage, wasn’t enough to deter arriving guests.
Colorado Air Patrol Valkyrie Cadet Squadron
(l to r): David Mitchell, incoming GSWA president Harriet Boyden, President-Emeritus Kit Frazier and Jason Mitchell
Signing the Wall of Honor at the reception, sponsored by VetsCars.com, A spokesperson said the organization is dedicated to straightforward pricing for active military and veterans. This plaque will go to a new dealer in Colorado.
Henry Jones and Lynn Kelly at the silent auction
Donna and Ret. Chief Master Sgt. Warren Tellgren
(l to r): Barbara and Lt. Col. Bill Gentry, with Linda and Maj. Tom Scheffel
Debi Hunter Holen, Aurora City Council (left); Amy Pike, survivor services outreach coordinator; and Bill Holen, Arapahoe County Commissioner
Attending from Oklahoma and Georgia (l to r): Diane Everett-Barbolla, Edna Everett, Ada McArthur, Pat Challis, Donna Smith and Burn Hankins
(l to r): Artie Guerrero, Phil Lanphier, Rick Beaver and Jerry Kelly
Denver chapter president Patti Sampers, with sons Ron (left) and Steve Sampers
Richard and Jackie Thompson, from Des Moines, sister and brother-in-law of Denver president Patti Sampers
Leanne Wheeler (left), with John Holland and Sylvia Derks
Sgt. Lou Walker, of the 101st Army Band, entertains during the reception.
Rachel Clinkscale (left), with Kit Frazer
Young Marines guard the door to the ballroom before dinner.
Amber and Tony Diaz
Kathleen Slater, with parents Richard and Jackie Thompson
Board Chair Debra Kraus (left), with Alice Phillips, of the Southeast Region
Mercedes Moore (left), with Linda Middleton
Mark and Connie Werner
Gathering together at the reception
The POW-MIA table setting was part of a tribute during the dinner program.
Table settings for dinner included striking floral displays.
Carrying out the “Color Yourself Colorado” theme
Comfy couches provided cozy corners for chatting.
Lois Harris, seated, with Jody Nyalko (left) and Pat Jacobs
Patti Termini (left), with Nancy McKenzie
(l to r): Venicia Tillman, Beulah Ross and Alma Birchette
The speaker’s podium included flowers donated by Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Adjutant General, Colorado
(l to r): Glenn Kavich, chair-Civil Air Patrol Public Trust Committee; Col. Jack Buschmann, State Rep. Su Ryden and Marvin Meyers, Legislaive Chairman/past president at United Veterans Committee of Colorado
Cathie Guerrero (left) and Nancy Gunn
Past national presidents Sandra Robertson (1979-81), left, from Montgomery, Ala., and Martha Didano (2003-05), from Omaha, Neb.
A forest of Gold Stars greeted guests.
Daniel Mark, from NORAD
National GSWA president Jeanette Early (left), with Paula Sarlls and Adri Loughmiller
(l to r): Grace Jacoby, Sue Tourtelot, Gen. Charles Jacoby and Patti Sampers
The pre-dinner reception at the Renaissance Denver Hotel
Gene Munson explains to the caller that he’s at the Gold Star Wives Grand Banquet and will call back later.
(l to r): Annie Crowder, Sandy White and Grace Westerbeck
(l to r): Alma Birchette, Beulah Ross, Mary Mosley and Sandra Robertson
(l to r): Helen Anderson, Ange Faiola, Meg Julian
VFW Colorado (l to r): Leon Rodriguez, Warren Tellgren and John Holland
Color Guard members were from Buckley AFB CLB, Battalion 453.
The 101st Army Jazz Combo entertained during dinner.
Gold Star Wives prepare to be escorted into the ballroom.
Gold Star Wives received a fittingly grand escort to their tables.
Presentation of colors, with Jazmyn Gaylord at the podium, preparing to sing the national anthem.
Janet Snyder, national chaplain
Jeanette Early, GSWA national president
Emcee James Gillespie
The 250 guests enjoy a delicious dinner.
Paula Sarlls, with Frontier Airlines sponsor reps Greg Aretakis (left) and Tom Allee
Talking with emcee James Gillespie were national president and speaker Jeanette Early (left) and Leanne Wheeler, who also spoke to the crowd.
Corinna Gibson-Ashmead (left), with Carol Ellinger
(l to r): Stephen Scheffel, Jeff Caldwell, Nathan Davis and Maj. Tom Scheffel
(l to r): Stephen Scheffel, Jeff Caldwell, Nathan Davis and Maj. Tom Scheffel
Paula Sarlls, Women Marines Association and member of Gold Star Wives of Denver, prepares to award two special quilts.
One of the quilts specially made for Gold Star Wives of America
Quilt recipient Wilma Turney, widowed in 1943 (left), with her son and GSWA rep
Quilt recipient Adri Loughmiller
Quilt recipient Wilma Turney
Guest speaker Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr.
Gen. Charles Jacoby’s spoke from the heart in a tribute to Gold Star Wives.
GSWA national president Jeanette Early presents Gen. Charles Jacoby with a gift of appreciation.
Guest speaker Brig. Gen. Robert W. enzenaur, Asst. Adjutant General Space, Colorado National Guard
Jeanette Early, national president; Patti Sampers, Colorado chapter president
Janet Snyder, national chaplain, Gold Star Wives of America
101st Army Jazz Band Combo
Platinum Sponsor for the convention: United Health Care; Official Airlines for the convention: Frontier Airlines
Plated dinner: Mixed green salad with baby mixed greens, sliced cucumber, grape tomato, shredded carrot and choice of dressing; citrus herb-roasted chicken with natural juices; pecan-crusted salmon with herb rice pilaf; Chef''s Vegetable: bourbon-and-caramelized onion cream served with Chef’s choice of vegetable & starch; freshly baked rolls and butter; Chef''s Special Purple and Gold Dessert: freshly brewed coffee, decaffeinated coffee and specialty teas
Cocktail, business formal
$65 per person
Program books: Great Western Printing; Flowers: Gen. H. Michael Edwards-Adjutant General, Colorado; Ornaments: Denver Gold Wives Chapter; Hero Bars: Women Marines Association; Banquet registration sponsored by the Sampers family