Lauding Lady Leslie

By Richard Mineards   |   September 5, 2019
Jay Real (on piano), Rob Grayson, Dan Gunther, Rod Lathim, and Bobby Lesser were "Leslie's Guys," who sang individually and as a group to honor "Birthday Girl" Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree (photo by James Buckley)

A torrent of tony tête toppers filled the Biltmore’s Loggia Ballroom when Montecito uber philanthropist Leslie Ridley-Tree, dressed immaculately in pink with magnificent millinery from Fenwicks of London, celebrated the 45th anniversary of her half century.

The boffo bash was hosted by the Lady of Largesse’s many friends including Hiroko Benko, Bob and Val Montgomery, Chris Toomey, Lailan McGrath, Ray Winn and Peter Kavoian, Barbara Mathews, David and Anna Grotenhuis, Jean-Marie Hamel, Katy Drew, Robert and Chris Emmons, Sarah Argyropoulos, and Stacie Anthes.

Jean-Marie Hamel presented Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree with this finely painted portrait of the Guest of Honor (photo by James Buckley)
Ray Winn (left) and Peter Kavoian entertained with their hilarious “Martin & Lewis” style skit re-telling of their shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman with Leslie in New York City (photo by James Buckley)

It has been quite a momentous week for the birthday girl, not only marking a major milestone, but also moving to her new home in Birnam Wood.

But Leslie was in fine form as a number of musical groups, including the Westmont Alumni Choir, a Santa Barbara High quartet, and Leslie’s Guys, comprising of Rob Grayson, Dan Gunther, Rod Lathim and Bobby Lesser – who also entertained at her 90th and 93rd birthdays – sang selections from Cole Porter, My Fair Lady and Hello Dolly.

She was presented with an oil portrait of her dressed in Tiffany blue with pearls by local artist Jean-Marie Hamel, telling the 118 guests: “My heart is overflowing for you. I look forward to next year. Don’t go away!”

Most (but not all) the committee members who worked on and helped underwrite the celebration of Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree (center, front, in pink) on her 95th birthday are Chris Toomey, Lailan McGrath, Katy Drew, Stacy Anthes, Anna Grotenhuis, Jean-Marie Hamel, Val Montgomery, Peter Kavoian, Bob Montgomery, Sarah Argyropoulos, Hiroko Benko, Ray Winn, Chris Emmons, and Bob Emmons (photo by James Buckley)

Among the bold faced name guests were Brooks and Kate Firestone, Luke Swetland, Caroline Thompson, Sally Jordan, Anne Towbes, Milt and Arlene Larsen, Bob and Marlene Veloz, Wilson Quarre and Peggy Wiley, Peter and Mireille Noone, Bob and Alex Nourse, Peter and Leslie McDougall, David Lacy, George and Laurie Leis, Rich and Luci Janssen, Peter and Gerd Jordano, Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman, Bryan and Lisa Babcock, Rich and Stacy Block, Brian King, Gayle and Pam Beebe, and Aimee de Lavett.

As a farewell gift they received small Tiffany blue boxes of M&Ms with Leslie’s initials imprinted on them.


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