A Night for the Ages

A stately soiree under the stars invokes the style and dignity of an era of intrigue


On September 18, 2008—at a breathtaking home off Northside Drive—a modern-day “Cabaret” was held to honor patron-level and higher guests and sponsors for the Shepherd Center’s 20th annual Legendary Party: “Speakeasy: Legend of the Jazz Age,” which was celebrated a few weeks later on November 1 at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, and sponsored in part by Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.

Each year, the Legendary Party pays tribute to a legend of our times with a spectacular fête benefiting the distinguished Atlanta center for research and rehabilitation. The 2008 theme, as imagined by chair Sally Dorsey and chair-elect Cyndae Arrendale, was replete with ’20s and ’30s magic—and the late-summer patron party was equally exquisite. The home of Jack Sawyer, regional president of event sponsor the Bank of New York Mellon, and Dr. William Torres, an acclaimed Emory University diagnostician and radiologist, proved the perfect setting for a party of such elegant proportions. The entire occasion celebrated a grand old age when spirits were stolen indulgences—discreetly sold in speakeasies infamous for their mystery and intrigue—and jazz was king.

Throughout the night, nearly 250 esteemed guests—many dressed in vintage attire reminiscent of the gangsters, molls, flappers and dapper gentlemen of the day—mingled and danced on the expansive pool deck, where 20 white linen-draped tables rendered the setting of a nightclub under the stars. Guests were greeted by champagne cocktails and martinis at the door, then noshed on a hearty selection of hors d’oeuvres prepared by A Legendary Event, including cocktail fare deeply rooted in Southern tradition, from pimento cheese finger sandwiches to perfectly seasoned rum barbecue chicken and lamb skewers. In tribute to the traditions of old, the scotch and whiskey flowed, and those who wished to smoke enjoyed custom-rolled cigars on the patio. At 8 p.m., the loggia served as the stage for the evening’s live musical entertainment, produced and directed by Robert Ray with cabaret-style performances by Ray, Courtenay Collins and Marsha Dupree, backed up by the Damon Goff Quartet.

Perhaps the most significant moments of the night were the bids of thanks given to the patrons, sponsors, hosts and Shepherd Center co-founders in attendance, as well as the night’s honored guest, Elizabeth Allen, recognized for her more than 25 years of support and contributions to the Center. Between the patron party and Legendary Party, nearly $830,000 was raised to benefit renovations to the Shepherd Center’s oldest building, the Shepherd Building. The funds will help transform 10 patient care rooms into suites, update the therapy gyms and refresh the décor of waiting rooms and common areas—in the process helping to maintain the Shepherd Center as one of the foremost rehabilitative facilities in the world.

The 2009 patron party will be held at the Buckhead home of Dorothy and Forrest Leef—2009 Legendary Party chair-elect—on 9/17. “Around the World in 80 Days: the Legend of Jules Verne” Legendary Party will be held at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead on 11/7. shepherd.org