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Friends and family support annual Charles Knox benefit

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

The ninth annual Charles Knox Memorial Scholarship Foundation Benefit was held recently at The Flanders. Helena Hamilton closed her popular boutique on Asbury Avenue early so she could check in guests when they walked up the stairs to the second floor lobby to enjoy the social hour.

Rod Hamilton was close by and 11-year-old Jake Stryker helped Helena with check-ins. Arlene and Paul Stryker were busy tending to last minute details while catching up with old friends from Philadelphia and Ocean City. After years of hearing a lady with a wild and crazy laugh at this benefit, who was always at the opposite end of the room, I finally met Millie Curley, who admitted she couldn’t laugh the way she does unless she finds something truly funny.

Flanders banquet manager Karen Bergman was a guest at the benefit, but that didn’t stop her from checking on servers with hot hors d’oeuvres. Karen introduced me to her son and daughter-in-law, Billy and Michelle Harris, who are expecting their first baby in June. Steve Bergman recently painted the gold trim on the tops of the 24 tall columns in the Candlelight Ballroom and said he felt like Michelangelo when he painted the Sistine Chapel. I caught up with Mare Frei checking out the over 60 items in the silent auction. She had her eye on some jewelry and a Kala ukulele. Mare recently returned from visiting family in Menden, Germany.

Linda and Paul Raley are headed to Nashville in May. Mike Raley attended the benefit with his parents. Mike is the sous chef at Sandi Pointe in Somers Point. Bobby Barr looked sharp in his gray, tweed suit when he arrived on his motorized scooter. Bobby is head of the Ocean City Democrat Club and works for Sen. Jeff Van Drew.

I spotted Bob Blevin looking at the cruiser donated by Annarelli’s and kayak donated by Harbor Outfitters while his wife, Gail, bid on the $100 gift certificate for the Knife and Fork Inn, and several other gift packages in the silent auction. Becky and Larry Friedel were on hand for the benefit and donated a surfboard from 7th Street Surf Shop.

Keith Hartzell arrived escorting his mom, June Hartzell. Denise and Gary Jessel arrived just as guests were heading into the ballroom for dinner. I quickly found my table where I was joined by Carol Heenan, Eric Wakabayashi, Michael Dukeman, Zoi and Gus Zerzouis and Cass and Carlo Melini. Carol Heenan wore a pink leather jacket, long black skirt and boots. Carol’s niece, Delaney Heenan, a freshman at St. Joseph’s University, was the recipient of the Charles Knox scholarship last June.

Zoi Zerzouis is the owner of the Butterfly Boutique on Asbury Avenue while her husband, Gus, is retired. Carlo Melini is the owner of C. Melini, a salon located at 34th Street and West Avenue for 33 years. When I admired Cass Melini’s gold purse she told me it was from her boutique at C. Melini where they sells jewelry, scarves, handbags and accessories and Cass does all the buying.

Paul Stryker welcomed everyone to the benefit and thanked them for their support of the Charles Knox scholarship, in memory of his stepson and awarded annually to a student who demonstrates financial need and the desire to pursue higher education. Keith Hartzell gave a blessing before guests headed into the board room for the buffet dinner. While waiting for our table to be called, I caught up with Jennifer and Charlie Bowman, Ingrid and Ted Lyons, Kim and Rob Davies, Jodee and Scott Wagner, Donna and Bill Heap and Rocky Auletto. Jennifer Bowman’s sported a new hairstyle complements of A Bella Salon at Ninth and Wesley while her husband, Charlie, joked about his shiny head. Ingrid and Ted Lyons recently returned from a vacation in Hawaii where they visited son Teddy in Maui where he teaches kiteboarding. Teddy was the recipient of the Charles Knox scholarship when he graduated Ocean City High School in 2011.

Kim and Rob Davies’ daughter, Leah, is a senior at Ocean City High School where she plays field hockey. Leah will be attending Stockton in the fall and will continue to play field hockey. When Paul Stryker stood at the podium with a pile of gift certificates, he told guests to check for a sticker on the bottom of their saucer and this columnist was delighted to be the winner at our table of one of the door prizes, a gift certificate for breakfast or lunch at Arlene’s on Asbury Avenue.

Jake Stryker took his turn at the microphone and told a couple of jokes to warm up the crowd before the main event. Thanks to our waiter, Bob Schaeffer, who promised not to take my chocolate cake that I told him I was going to eat during the comedy show.

I enjoyed meeting Rocky Auletto, a lieutenant colonel in the 177 Fighter Wing at the FAA Tech Center in Egg Harbor Township. Rocky is a widow with three children, who is working on finishing her doctorate in nursing at Simmons College in Boston.

Jodee and Scott Wagner moved to Ocean City from Woodstown three years ago. Scott is an emergency room physician while Jodee is a homemaker looking after their two sons. Donna and Bill Heap are delighted with their new home on the beach they purchased when their old home was severely damage during Sandy. Donna and Bill are happy to be raising their 8-year-old twins, David and Oliva, in Ocean City as they love the school district and feel so welcome in this close knit family community.

Charles Knox’s friends from high school, Matt Wira, Jack Low, Jim Murray, Jason Clarkson, Willy Harris, and Kevin Jennings, who graduated Ocean City High School in 1999 and 2000, attend this benefit every year to honor the memory of their buddy. It was nice to see Harriet Fore, a hostess at Arlene’s, at the benefit. I enjoyed meeting Dottie and Bruce Berry, who have owned Dock of the Bay Marina for 13 years. Andy Larson lives in Ocean City and has worked in maintenance in the Linwood schools for 12 years.

Christine and Mark Stanton live in one of the smallest houses in Ocean City and love it. After living in a four-bedroom home in Haddonfield, they really enjoy their one-room home at the seashore. The highlight of the evening was the comedy show provided by Maureen Langan and Joseph Anthony. Craig Applebaum of VIP Mobile Disc Jockeys provided music for dancing in the ballroom.

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan

Around our town with Cathy Finnegan Around our town with Cathy Finnegan


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