Las Vegas Sun

November 22, 2014

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Columnist Susan Foyt: National Italian American gala honors Raggio, students

More than 800 people responded to the National Italian American Foundation's invitation for the West Coast gala honoring state Sen. Bill Raggio, Senate majority leader. The native Nevadan, who has served in the Nevada Senate since 1973, was given the National Italian American Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service. Held in the sumptuous new pavilion complex at the Rio hotel-casino, the dinner was chaired by past NIAF honoree Anthony Marnell, assisted by honorary co-chairs Gov. Kenny Guinn and Assemblyman Joe Dini, speaker of the House.

Opening with a lavish hosted reception, the evening was festive as guests including Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, Gary Gray, Bruce and Marlene Francis, Chancellor and Mrs. Richard Jarvis, Mikey and Jim Bilbray, Cara Kelley, Bob Faiss, Jim Marsh with Roz Santangelo, Paula and Sue Lowden, Assistant District Attorney Charles Thompson, Milton Schwartz and Bob and Patricia Campbell, enjoyed the buffet of Italian appetizers and delectables while meeting and mingling with friends and associates. Moving in to dinner from this congenial hour were NIAF members and celebrity presenters, among them Ruth Buzzi, Dick Van Patten, Lou Ferringo, Robert Davi and Dennis Farina.

NIAF, through a generous matching funds program with our community's own Augustus Society, presented checks to Kelly Long, Joseph Sandino, Jamie Ware, Maria Endriga and Marina Chiarandini. Each of these young students qualified at the highest academic level for these funds and presented documentation showing financial need for their advanced studies. Present for the dinner and ceremonies honoring Sen. Raggio were Robyne Brooks and her husband, state Sen. Randolph Townsend, as well as Heidi and Alex Arden, Oscar and Carolyn Goodman, Rep. Jim Gibson, Sandy and Roger Peltyn, Assemblyman Morse Arberry, Ann Lynch, Dr. Richard and Susan Moore, Pete Elaides and newlyweds Emily and Dario Herrara. Presiding over the well-orchestrated event was Joseph Cerrell, president of the national organization, and Frank Guarini, foundation chairman.

Preview partyFlorida developer Donald Soffer and his partner and son, Jeffrey Soffer, opened the door to Las Vegas' elite during Turnberry Place's review party. Rain showers didn't dampen spirits in the least for arrivals at the exquisite sales pavilion, which includes a full-size luxury model and quite spacious entertainment areas.

It was a party for both locals and those seeking to make their home in our community, with more than a liberal sprinkling of prominent Las Vegans, among them Vivienne Morris and Joan Bodensteiner, Dr. Martin and Phyllis Schwartz, Wayne Larson, Frank Schreck, Steve Molasky and Lisa Livingstone, Councilman Michael McDonald with Jennifer Simich and Joe Roberts. An elaborate model of the four-tower complex was displayed on the lower tier of the handsome building and viewed while George Bugatti and his orchestra entertained. Looking closely into this private-club living environment were Midge Rubinson with Pat Campbell, Gary and Pat Bircker, Laura Fritz, Rayna Peterson, Melanie Scott, Joe Klein and Jeff Silver, as well a Ivan Isenberg, Randall Goldberg and Jeannette Daley.

Faculty honoredThe UNLV Alumni Association recently served more than 70 guests attending its annual Emeritus Faculty Breakfast. Acting host for the early morning gathering was Alumni Association first Vice President Jim Kirkwood. Begun in 1991, the breakfast honors faculty who have served UNLV with great dedication for many years.

Emeritus status is bestowed upon those full time faculty members who retire after distinquished careers of 10 years or more. Candidates must be formally recommended by their department, college dean and finally the university's provost, who forwards the recommendation to the university president for approval by the Board of Regents.

Sixteen longtime pillars of UNLV's academic life were elevated to Emeritus status at the breakfast, including: Barbara Hanford, Jerome J. Vallen, William Wagonseller, Betty Yantis, Robert Bigler, William L. Brogan, Robert S. Ball and David W. Emerson. Recognized as well were Robert Davenport, Evan Blythin, James Kent Pinney, Anthony Saville, Gerald K. Rubin, Stephen F. Neilsen, Lee R. Tilman and, in memoriam, Thomas L. Clark. Present for the program and breakfast were Dr. Carol Harter and Provost Douglas Ferraro, Nancy Flagg, Dr. Stuart Mann, Dr. Rebecca Mills, Russell Avery, Fred Albrecht, Dr. Juanita Fain and Dr. Donald C. Moyer, past president of UNLV in the days when the university was known as Nevada Southern University.

Opening soireeThe splendid opening of the Venetian hotel-casino was generously designed as an event to benefit Reach Out, a community agency to assist children afflicted with AIDS and their families as they cope with their very special needs.

Guests, elegantly clad in complement with the exquisite resort property, stepped inside and were at once welcomed in grand fashion by a seemingly endless dual line of Venetian-style nobles, each wearing authentically researched costumes from the greatest era of the fabled city, and giving rich performances according to their elevated stations in life. Above were the soaring colonades of marble, and painstakingly created murals and frescoes, again recalling this magnificent city and the rich history that has been gracefully borrowed for the design and completion of the hotel and its adjoining casino, entertainment and restaurant areas.

Owner-entrepreneur Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, were soon surrounded by attending guests brimming with compliments and questions, among them Julie Simon with her mother and father, Leslie and Roger Simon, Gus Ramos, Flora Mason, Lia Roberts, Roger and Sandy Peltyn, Eva Kallick, Lou and Linda Silvestri, Robert Shay with his wife, Dr. Wendy Scheer, and Dr. Keith Bowman.

With many enticing areas of the resort to explore, the attending crowd soon spread out through the restaurants, elegantly tiered lounges and even into the beckoning jewelry store with its Venetian-influenced creations. Seen with friends were Paula and Dr. Joseph Quagliana, Joan and Robert Deiro, Stacey Donachesy, University Regent Tom Weisner and his wife, Lynn, Nancy Gasho with Alma Vining and Bob Stupak. Attending as a family were Yvette and Robert Maheu, with their son, Peter, and daughter-in-law, Rosemary, joined by longtime friends Robert and Vera Goulet. Looking with great interest through the resort's most appealing French bistro, Pino Brasserie, were Lovee and Bob Arum, who chatted with owner-chef Joachim Splichal about his menus for both lunch and dinner. Nearby in the relaxing crowd were: Steve Wolfson, Richard and Wendy Plaster, Irene and Dr. Ma rvin Perer, Hal Ober, Charles Silverman, Dr. Jim Nave and Don and Dr. Maria Chairez. Seen with Norm Johnson was Kim Armocida, while Larry Ruvo, Milton Schw

artz, Jan Johnson, and Christine Walker were part of the attending crowd. Present with fiancee Lisa Talley was Nevada Boxing Judge Chuck Giampa, who spoke of his forthcoming wedding slated for mid-October.

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