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A Very Literary Holiday Evening

Sue and Lester Smith open their home to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s 2018 A Celebration of Reading Author Reveal and Soirée

Photo Credit:  Wilson Parish  

General Editor: Margaret MacMillan

Publisher: Connie Kwan-Wong

The Celebration

Neil and Maria Bush, founders of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, along with Sue and Lester Smith, welcomed supporters and members of the Bush family to the Smith’s elegant home for a private holiday soirée and author reveal for the 2019 A Celebration of Reading, which will take place on May 2, 2019 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. For the fifth year in a row, Phillips 66 will serve as the title sponsor. Quanex Foundation will be the presenting sponsor for the third year in a row.

The Story

Over 120 guests, dressed in festive attire, attended the event, which paid tribute to the late President George H. W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush. While sipping cocktails, relishing hors d’oeuvres prepared by Culinaire, and enjoying music by Houston band Moodafaruka, celebrants exchanged fond memories of President and Mrs. Bush.


Guests were graciously welcomed by the Smiths, who thanked everyone for their generosity and support. Julie Baker Finck, president of the foundation, introduced attendees to its priorities for 2019, which include expanding programs to serve families of children from birth to age four and book distribution to underserved children through grade five. She also announced new volunteer-based programs the foundation will be developing as well as the creation of a literacy institute to train staff of community-based nonprofits, public libraries, and governmental agencies on effective family literacy programs and strategies to help children learn how to read.


The Moments

Maria and Neil Bush, along with Julie Baker Finck, revealed 2019’s A Celebration of Reading authors. They are: world-renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman, whose latest book is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World; Ellie LeBlond Sosa, author of George and Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story; USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, Susan Page, author of The MATRIARCH: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty; and The New York Times’ bestselling author James Patterson, who will be releasing Target, his latest title in the Alex Cross series, in the near future.

Guests: Lilly and Thurmon Andress; Shayna Andrews; Melza and Ted Barr; Sue and Gil Baumgarten; Donatella and Fred Benckenstein; Ginger Blanton; Susan Bruch; Martha and Mark Carnes; Cathy and Joe Cleary, Jr.; Molly and Jim Crownover; Terri and Greg Ebel; Honorable Ed Emmett and Gwen Emmett; Ron Finck and Julie Baker Finck; Lily and Charles C. Foster; Claudia and Brad Freels; Grace and Robert Givens; Maria and Rafael Gomez; Jennifer Hazelton; Betty and John Hrncir; Pat and David B. Jones; Claudia Kreisle; Trish and Rock Morille; Alice and Keith Mosing; Sally and Charles Neblett; Faith and Blair Parker; Louise and Bob Parsley; Carol and Tom Sawyer; Limor and Stuart Smith; Honorable George Strake and Annette Strake; Danny Ward and Nancy Ames; Pam and Jim Wells; Honorable Bill White and Andrea White; and Margaret Alkek Williams.

About the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is a charitable organization formed by Neil and Maria Bush to carry forth First Lady Barbara Bush’s legacy in the literacy cause and to focus deeply on breaking the intergenerational cycle of low literacy in the Bush family’s hometown. Founded on Mrs. Bush’s belief, “If you help a person to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless,” the Barbara Bush Foundation’s mission is to improve lives through the power of literacy: the ability to read, write, speak clearly, and think critically.

For more information, please visit  or follow on Facebook at, on Twitter @bushhoustonlit, and on Instagram. @bushhoustonlit        

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