The annual Friends of Wethersfield Garden Luncheon has become the most celebrated charity event in Dutchess County. YRB attended its third outing on Sunday, September 3, 2023.
The luxurious luncheon was chaired by Elizabeth Mayhew, Christopher Spitzmiller and Anthony Bellomo, the event was the largest ever and, once again, completely sold out.
Nancy Hathaway, Wethersfield’s Board Chair, greeted donors and spoke of the recent renaissance of Wethersfield.
Marion deVogel presented The Spirit of Wethersfield Award to Barbara Tober for her tireless devotion to preserving the beauty and accessibility of Wethersfield explaining,
“In 2017, when Wethersfield needed help, Barbara was at the front of the line, contributing her immense wisdom…With Barbara’s encouragement and underwriting, bridle trails have been rebuilt, carriage driving competitions and exhibitions have returned, seasonal dance, art, and music performances has been added for adults and children – AND – this year, Barbara contributed the largest unrestricted gift to Wethersfield, for, in her words, ‘whatever Wethersfield needs’ and to inspire others in our community to give.”
“Barbara is a singular force. Her support of Wethersfield is beautiful, her giving is generous, and her efforts have led to the making of something timeless,”
added Tara Shafer, Wethersfield’s Executive Director and eldest granddaughter of the estate’s founder, Chauncey Stillman,
“I want to be Barbara Tober when I grow up”.
She presented Barbara Tober with a portrait, still wet from the studio, by Olga Sweet, whose clients include Nacho Figueras, Stuart Weitzman, The Archduke Dr. Geza von Habsburg, and President Jimmy Carter.
Since the painting was a surprise, the artist completed the oil portrait-sketch in one week based on several photographs.
After the surprise presentation to Mrs. Tober, Olga Sweet spoke to YRB about how the painting came alive,
” I tried to express how I see Barbara— a vivacious, beautiful, fashionable woman — through the brushstrokes, additional designs, and some unexpected colors.”
“I am delighted that Barbara liked the portrait— she is such a gracious, interesting, and kind person, and such a great philanthropist.”
In accepting the award, Barbara Tober recalled how she and her much loved late husband, Donald, discovered Wethersfield on horseback, with The Millbrook Hunt. Wearing a Gabriela Hearst dress and picture hat, she was clearly moved by the long-standing ovation by more than 350 guests.
Most of the guests in attendance wore hats, a tradition of this benefit and its status as “the other hat luncheon”, modeled after The Central Park Conservancy Luncheon.
The guests included Wethersfield Board members Nancy Hathaway, Kelly Morgan, Farnham Collins, Bernadette Murray, Candace Platt, Stanley Stillman, Jacqueline Thorne, George Whalen, IV; Friends of Wethersfield Carolina Gunnarsson Kim, Meghan Klopp, Deanna Mulligan, Bernadette Murray, Claire Mann, and Barbara Tober (honoree); as well as, CeCe Cord, Julie and Jim Dale, Lacey Schwartz Delgado (Second Lady of New York State), James Brayton Hall, Mary Hilliard, Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels, Karen Klopp (last year’s co-chair), Peter Lyden, Katie Ridder and Peter Pennoyer, Carolyne Roehm, Robert Rufino, Mish Tworkowski and Joseph Singer, Whit Stillman, Jill and Peter Kraus, Hilarie Burton Morgan, Kalliope and Michael Rena, Alese Fisher Tallman, Ashley Whittaker, and Pam Taylor Yates. Tim Mayhew proved auctioneer extraordinaire, proving heavy bidding for four fabulous exclusive items.
The event reflected the co-chairs signature style, including custom tablecloths donated by Schumacher Fabrics.
Generous sponsors included The Bank of Millbrook, George T. Whalen Real Estate, Nargi Landscaping, and Schumacher.
Wethersfield thanks the Garden Conservancy for its support of the preservation of Wethersfield Garden as one of America’s finest.
About Wethersfield Estate & Garden
Wethersfield Estate & Garden is a 1,000-acre sanctuary of conserved land that has been given to the community by Chauncey Devereaux Stillman. A unique treasure with a formal Italian Renaissance Garden on a hilltop with astonishing vistas of the Taconic Hills, the Berkshires, and the Catskills. It boasts more than twenty miles of trails for equestrian sport, hiking and cross-country skiing and a Carriage House Museum with 22 antique carriages – the finest in the world. Wethersfield Estate & Garden is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photos by: Patrick McMullan & Sean Zanni / PMC