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Beyond the Pearls: Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder of Barbara Bush, this year’s Power of Literacy Luncheon, came alive as a virtual event.

The Legacy of a Literacy Giant

Photo Credits:  Jenny Antill and Priscilla Dickson

The Celebration

The fifth annual Power of Literacy Luncheon, Beyond the Pearls: Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder of Barbara Bush, chaired by Betty Hrncir and Sidney Faust, was enjoyed by participants as a virtual event on Thursday, October 22, 2020. Melanie Lawson, KTRK-TV Channel 13 news anchor, emceed the afternoon affair and Reverend Dr. Russ Levenson, Jr. delivered the invocation. The proceeds benefit the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s (Foundation)Ladies for Literacy Guild’s activities and initiatives.

The Story

In advance of the gathering, attendees were given the opportunity to enter the unique raffle, which featured a double strand of freshwater pearls, generously donated by Tenenbaum Jewelers, and a Literacy Lovers Package that included a lifetime membership to the Ladies for Literacy Guild, autographed books, and more. Also, through Water 2 Wine, they were able to “shop for a cause” for commemorative branded bottles of wine. The coveted buy-it-now item: two embroidered director’s chairs autographed by Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, was available for purchase as well.

Ticket holders relished exquisitely presented lunches of classic rosemary chicken salad, pearl couscous salad or grilled green vegetable salad, sour-cream corn and jalapeno muffin, and bourbon pecan pie in a glass jar from CULINAIRE. These treats were made all the more tantalizing by being delivered directly to homes and offices. Each also received charming keepsake gifts.

The Moments

Family and friends delighted attendees with fond recollections of Mrs. Bush in keeping with the theme, Beyond the Pearls: Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder of Barbara Bush. Maria and Neil Bush thanked the Guild and the Foundation for their tireless work. “We continue to be amazed at, and grateful for, the incredible work of the Guild,” said Neil Bush. Betty Hrncir, Sidney Faust, and Guild President Trish Morille delivered inspirational remarks prior to the honored guests presentations. This year’s special guests included The Honorable Andrew Hill Card, Jr.; David and Elizabeth Demarest; The Honorable Robert M. Gates; Jenna Bush Hager; Doro Bush Koch; Jay Leno; Reba McEntire; Jon Meacham; The Honorable Sichan Siv; and surprise guests, Dolly Parton and Lee Greenwood.

This year’s efforts raised $280,000for the Foundation’s Ladies for Literacy Guild’s local literacy efforts.       


Phillips 66 served as the title sponsor for the fifth year in a row, continuing its leadership position in the community to promote the literacy cause. Janice McNair served as the Literacy Champion Sponsor and Memorial Hermann served as the Presenting Sponsor.



Maria Bush, Betty Hrncir, Sidney Faust, Julie Baker Finck, Lisa Jakel, Jean Becker, Tony Bradfield, Elsie Eckert, Becky Cooke, Jan Duncan, Claudia Kreisle, Gina Saour, Trish Greaser, Jan Griesenbeck, Mary Sage, Ruth Ann Reyenga, Ellen Sheedy, Ellen Stough, Dodi Willingham, Nancy Hall, Judi McGee, Carolyn Moody Drake, Susan Vincent, Allison Schulze, Emily George, Allison Vincent, Kate Vincent, Julie Vincent, Kelsey Trahan, Colleen McCauley, Meghan McCracken, Donna Archer, Rosie Damgaard, Terral Cesak, Jules Harris-Moore, Mignon Heizer, Leah Stasney, Kathy Goossen, Maureen Higdon, Florence Langford, Darlene Clarke, Mary Maxey, Debby Leighton, Deborah Dunkum, Danette Mozisek, Amanda Gelb, and Connie Wallace.

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. 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. 

About the Ladies for Literacy Guild

The Ladies for Literacy Guild is a volunteer auxiliary group that supports the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. This dynamic assemblage of women is committed to carrying forth Barbara Bush’s legacy in literacy and supports the foundation’s mission to improve lives through the power of literacy.

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