Good Afternoon.  It’s absolutely wonderful to see all of you here today.  I feel as though I am looking out at 35 years of history in one room at one time, and I know Ellen and Tillman are so glad to see you too!

As most of you are aware, the Advisory Board, which is made up of all of the past presidents of the Women’s Board, together with the Executive Committee, voted earlier this year to dedicate this 35th Anniversary Art & Antiques Show to the lady who started it all, Ellen Cavert, and also to Tillman, who has been by her side for 71 years of marriage.

Now, 35 years is a good long time also, and that is a time span of which any organization would be proud.  But we’re gathered here this afternoon to celebrate Ellen & Tillman Cavert, who have taught us a great deal.  And I know I speak for everyone when I say that so much of what we learned about volunteer service and fund-raising, we learned from Ellen and from those chairs who immediately followed her—and who set the example for those of us who came later.

We learned things like: “If it isn’t nailed down, you sell it!”  Another one was: “Try every possible source to get something donated, before you buy it.”  Here’s another:  “You can never acknowledge and thank people enough—both privately and publicly.”  And another:  “If you just tell them it’s for sick and injured babies, they can’t help but say yes when you ask.”

These are only some of the things that Ellen encouraged and that Women’s Board chairs and volunteers have taken to heart for 35 years—and in the process, raised more than 22.5 million dollars for Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

And though we have certainly been blessed to enjoy the thrill of success, and the satisfaction of great achievement in fund-raising, today we are talking about something way more important than dollars and cents.  For what may be Ellen Cavert’s greatest contribution to us as Women’s Board members is her constant reminder that if we just get our relationships with each other right, then we can’t help but be successful as an organization and as people.

Indeed, the way Ellen always described it was “that sweet spirit”.  Now, that may mean different things to different people, but there isn’t one of us who didn’t figure out sooner or later, that we had to stash away our own egos or or pre-conceived notions and come together to do what was in the best interest of whatever project we were working on—because the end result would ultimately inure to the benefit of the children served by Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

So, one of the things that struck me early on in my work with the Women’s Board, was that there seemed to be an awful lot of people involved with just that kind of focus, and yes, that “sweet spirit”–and I wanted to be part of that.  And again, I’m happy to see that so many of those people are here today.

Ellen, it occurred to me at some point during the last two years, that if your cause had been trees, or animal rights, or recycling, we would have followed you into that, too!

All kidding aside, every once in a while, the right person comes along at the right time, with the right idea–and has the vision, the drive and the personal magnetism to get everybody else motivated . . . and . . . lo and behold, they’re still doing it 35 years later, even bigger and better than had ever been dreamt when it all got started.

With Ellen, it truly was about getting relationships right–whether it was how we treated fellow committee members, or the guys from Baptist who do the heavy lifting, or the hospital president, or the doctors and the nurses, or the patrons and corporate sponsors of our events.  It was all about respect, appreciation and yes, that “sweet spirit”.

With Ellen, it was also about family, about honoring and thanking husbands who surely got tired of eating out and children who surely did not like getting picked up a little late from time to time!  Ellen was always quick to say that family comes first.

And certainly, most importantly for Ellen and Tillman, FAITH has always been part and parcel of who they are as individuals, and who they are in every aspect of their lives.  With Ellen and Tillman, there’s no separation between their private faith and their public lives, and this is surely one of their most admired traits.

So, Ellen and Tillman, we could not begin to enumerate all of the things you have meant to the Women’s Board.   But the people you see here today, some of whom are wearing pins signifying the year they chaired the Show, including your own granddaughter, are here not only because they are proud that they chaired or worked on a Show during these last 35 years, but they’re all here because you and the organization you forged made such a difference in their lives.

And that is why we have dedicated this absolutely exquisite 35th Anniversary Art & Antiques Show to you and to Tillman who so graciously inspired and supported all of our efforts, these last 35 years.  THANK YOU!


This has been a challenging year, and it has been a wonderful year. I am so blessed to have had the honor of chairing the 35th Anniversary Show along with my precious friend, Roxane. We have had quite a ride! But we could not be more blessed by the support we have received, the kindness we have been shown and the Show we have had.

Would all of the past Chairs, Co-Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Antiques Show please stand? We thank you so much for being here with us to celebrate our 35th Show, and we want to recognize your commitment to The Women’s Board and Wolfson, and we want to honor each of you today. We have provided you with your Chair pins, each designating your year, and we hope you will continue to wear your pin with pride in each ensuing year.

When I first took on this job, I am sure I felt as many of you did:  How can I fill the shoes of all those who have gone before me? I have known many of you since I was a little girl, and you have been heroes, mentors, role models. To try to do anything with the grace and beauty with which you have done it truly overwhelmed me. Yet how grateful I have been for the examples in my life that I have had. I want to thank you all for what you have given me not just this year but in my life, and I want to especially thank you for being here with us today.

I also want to thank Susan, whose beauty, inside and out, has been a daily inspiration for Roxane and me, and for whose leadership we have been so grateful this year. Susan, Roxane and I are honored to have chaired the Show under you, and we thank you for all you have done for us.

We are all here today to honor two people whose example has inspired all of us not just in the way we serve The Women’s Board and the hospital, but in the way we live our lives. Ellen and Tillman Cavert, Granny and Grandaddy, you started something 35 years ago that has touched all of our lives in extraordinary ways, and that has changed the lives of thousands upon thousands of people. Your vision, your example, your leadership, your service, your heart, your faith and your “Sweet Spirits” are foundations on which we continue to build The Women’s Board.

We have something very special to give to you. Susan, Roxane and I asked each past chair of the Antiques Show if she would share with us her memories of you both—things you have taught us, events we remember, funny moments we have shared, and mostly what you have meant to each of us. In this book are written those memories for you to read and to treasure.

As I compiled the memories of all these women, I was all the more humbled by how amazingly blessed I am to have the two of you as my grandparents, and I cried through this entire project. It has been the most meaningful part of my Chair year, and I am grateful each of these women took the time to write such beautifully penned and inspiring memories, and I am grateful to have had the privilege of putting it together for you.

We all want to thank you for, well….being you. For all you have done and continue to do in our lives, for the love you have given to each of us, for the legacy that you have passed along, and that we will continue to pass along to those who come after us, we honor you, we bless you and we love you.

So many quotes preserved in this book say far better than I how much you mean to us, but I want to close with one that I think encompasses the sentiments of all of us:

“You are our heroes, our mentors, our inspiration for all that we do for the precious children who need our help to lead healthy, happy lives. Your Sweet Spirits and joyous vision have changed our lives in all of the best ways. We will forever strive to live up to your expectations of us and our abilities to lead others with grace and love. God has blessed us with your love. You are always in our hearts.”

We love you.