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The Crowd: 'Romance,' funds at San Juan Capistrano

September 24, 2010|By B.W. Cook
  • BIG SMILES: Clay Irons and Lula Halfacre, donor of a $15,000 jewelry item as opportunity prize of the evening.
BIG SMILES: Clay Irons and Lula Halfacre, donor of a $15,000… (Daily Pilot )

It is one of the most beautiful annual events on the California Riviera. "Romance of the Mission," held on the ancient grounds of the historical Mission San Juan Capistrano, brought together more than 400 guests for an evening of fine food and wine, incomparable entertainment and, most importantly, a spiritual connection to the religious and historical pasts of early California.

Special honors of the evening were bestowed upon Gilbert Aguirre, honorary event chairman representing the Mission Preservation Foundation. Aguirre, vice president of operations for Rancho Mission Viejo Co., joins a list of past chairs of distinction including Ambassador George Argyros and Julianne Argyros, Gen. William Lyon and Willa Dean Lyon, Joan Irvine Smith, Madeline Swinden, Richard O'Neill, Ninetta Herbert, and Sandra Segerstrom and John Daniels, to name a select group. Aguirre joined Foundation Board Chairman George O'Connell welcoming the crowd, ultimately raising $198,000 net from the evening proceeds. Funds are earmarked for restoration of the mission's gate house, which is the only brick building on the site that dates to the founding period in the 1770s.

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"This fundraiser is the beginning of a new chapter in the mission's history," Mechelle Lawrence-Adams, executive director of the mission, said.

"The Gate House Preservation Project will be nothing short of excellence in design, safety, compatibility and respect for the historic site."

Aguirre added, "The mission is the town, and those of us who are able, should do what we can to help make sure it's here for the long run."

Major support for the project came from donors, including The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, the O'Connell Family foundation, Sheila and Jim Peterson, Gilbert Aguirre, Janet Curci, Melinda and Tony Moiso, Joan Irvine Smith and the Athalie R. Clarke Foundation and Lula Halfacre of Traditional Jewelers.

Also supporting the mission in a significant manner were EJ Tracy and Tracy Industries, Mozelle and Myron Sukut, Eden and George O'Connell, Kim and Hank Weeks, Connie and Peter Spenuzza, Jan and Warren Siegel, the Cvengros family, Ortega's Mission Gift Shops and Shine Lighting Co.

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