Home' The River Weekly News : RWN011516 Contents THE RIVER - JANUARY 15, 2016
PACE Center To Honor Local
Women At Grande Dames Tea
PACE Center for Girls of Lee County has selected three more women to be
honored at the 8th annual Grande Dames Tea honoring some of the commu-
nity’s most revered women.
This year’s honorees are:
Betty Anderson of Fort Myers
Anderson, 86, is a Fort Myers native who spent 15 years in Africa as a mission-
ary with her husband, the late Dr. Robert Anderson. The couple sold their Fort Myers
home and his dental practice in 1976 to move to Africa to provide dental care to
Africans who had never seen a dentist. They spent four years in the bush villages of
Ghana followed by 10 more years in Nigeria. Sometimes the lines were 75 people
deep waiting for care.
The couple retired from their missionary work in 1991 and returned for Fort
Myers, where she dedicated her time and talents to First Baptist Church as part of a
team assisting the homeless.
Rusty Brown of Fort Myers
Brown, 86, is a writer/dramatist who
has reinvented herself again and again as
a musical comedy singer, journalist, greet-
ing card company publicist and adjunct
professor. In Fort Myers, she’s best known
as a playwright and actor, bringing to life
remarkable women such as Mina Edison,
Clara Barton, Katharine Hepburn and oth-
ers in her popular and original one-woman
shows. As a journalist with The Cleveland
Press, she launched a column on women’s
concerns and the Women’s Movement that
was nationally syndicated and appeared
in 200 newspapers. She also wrote for
Women’s Day and Ms. Magazine and
published a book, Women As We See
Dr. Geraldine Burchard Nobles of
Nobles, 78, went from bussing tables at
her mother’s famous LaBelle restaurant,
Flora & Ella’s, to becoming a successful
mental health counselor in private practice and bringing Hope Hospice services to
LaBelle and Hendry County. She is the first certified abuse counselor in Florida. A fifth
generation Floridian and descendant of the LaBelle pioneer Poole and Forrey families,
she and her husband, the late L. J . Nobles, Jr., worked in their Collier County agri-
business raising fresh produce and operating a large tomato packing facility.
The Grande Dames Tea honoring the three women will take place Tuesday, March
22, from 1 p.m . to 3 p.m . at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, 1380 Colonial
Boulevard, Fort Myers.
Chair of the Grande Dames Tea is Deanna Hansen, with Mary Fischer serving as
co-chair. Both women also are members of the PACE Lee board of directors.
“These three outstanding women come from varied backgrounds and are sure to
have some insightful advice for the audience and the PACE girls,” said Hansen.
“Our theme of The Wisdom of Age – Honoring the Female Spirit is so appropriate
because each of these women has much to share from her own life’s journey,” Fischer
Invitations to the Grande Dames Tea will be mailed in mid-February, when registra-
tion also will be available online at www.pacecenter.org/lee. Admission is $60 per
person. Table sponsorships are also available. Attendees are encouraged to wear their
favorite tea party hat.
Previous honorees have included Berne Davis, Eleanore Kleist and the late Barbara
B. Mann in 2009; Jeanne Bochette, Helen Hendry and Veronica Shoemaker in
2010; Myra Daniels, Kathleen Nealon and the late Mimi Straub in 2011; Michel
Doherty, Mavis Miller and Anna “Boots” Tolles in 2012; Thelma Hodges, the late
Helen O’Rourke McClary and Ettie Francis Walsh in 2013; Barbara Norris Brown,
the late Sarah Sciple and Margaret Sirianni in 2014; and Sharlene Hamel Dozier, M.
Jacqueline McCurdy and Melvin Morgan in 2015.
The Grande Dames Tea was originated by PACE Center for Girls of Lee County
to honor women who have played major roles in Southwest Florida history through
decades of service, philanthropy and helping others.
The agenda for the tea will include interaction between the PACE girls and the
three honorees in a question and answer format that Hansen and Fischer said “is sure
to be thought-provoking and poignant.”
PACE Center for Girls, Inc., is a non-residential delinquency prevention program
targeting the unique needs of girls, ages 11 to 18 years old, facing challenges such as
physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, foster care, neglect,
death of a parent, family history of incarceration and declining grades
PACE is a Florida-based, not for profit organization, and the only statewide preven-
tion program for adolescent at-risk girls in the nation. In the past year, the Lee County
program provided 110 girls with education, counseling, training and advocacy resulting
in 93 percent having no involvement with juvenile justice within six months of leaving
PACE, 77 percent improving their academic per formance and 89 percent remaining
in school or obtaining employment three years after leaving PACE. As a result, PACE
reduces the significant long term costs associated with teen pregnancy, substance
abuse, unemployment and long term economic dependency.
PACE accepts referrals from the juvenile justice system, the Department of Children
& Families, school personnel, community services agencies, parents, family members,
friends and self-referrals.
For information about the Grande Dames Tea or to become a sponsor, contact
PACE Development Director Sara Garner at 425-2366, or visit http://pacecenter.
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