By Michall Jeffers Photos by Amy Kerwin
What a glorious night! Friends, neighbors, and family of Grace Bennett all flocked to Crabtree’s Kittle House for a chance to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Inside Chappaqua” on March 14. Everyone brought signature style to the event; some were casual, some more dressed up, but no one was quite as resplendent as our own Grace B, swathed in gold, and beaming. As is her way, she seemed to be everywhere at once, supervising and making sure she got to talk with all the well-wishers.
The toasts were clever and blissfully short. Handsome and dapper Mike Kaplowitz, who’s been Chappaqua’s able county legislator since 1998, was equally successful reminding us what an amazing achievement it’s been keeping the publication going all this time, how much Grace has added to the community, surprising her with a County proclamation declaring March 15th “Inside Chappaqua Day.”
Long time friend Nancy Huehnergarth regaled the crowd with a poem that was part roast, but all love. Writer Jean Sheff, editor of Westchester Family Magazine, and one of IC’s shining lights, chose just the right words, as always. We all laughed when Jean pointed out that contrary to popular belief, Grace has not had coffee with everyone in town. Jean spoke for everyone when she told us how much Grace has encouraged her, and what a great friend she’s been.
After calling up her kids Anna and Ari to join her, she invited her indomitable dad, who’s an 89-year-old Holocaust Survivor; she thanked us all for our donations, large and small, to The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center. (Grace raised nearly $6000 the same evening by requesting a voluntary donation of any amount with attendance.)
Incidentally, while some guests took advantage of the excellent live music, no one danced as enthusiastically as Grace’s dad, and no one enjoyed the evening more. How could it not be so, with such a daughter? Grace referenced her journey from a sometimes perilous childhood in Washington Heights, to her current stature as an esteemed voice of New Castle.
A cheer rang in the air when she finished reading a letter, delivered just in time from Chappaqua’s own former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“…While I regret I am unable to be there myself, I hope you will do some dancing in my honor, because I have fond memories of us dancing and clapping all across Africa last August– on the tarmac when we landed in Nairobi, on a farm in Milawi, and even with the South African Foreign Minister in Pretoria,” wrote Clinton. “Tonight more than ever, you deserve to dance and celebrate this milestone in Inside Chappaqua’s history. Here’s to the next successful decade!…”
As the champagne flowed, conversation got ever louder. Old friends were greeted enthusiastically, and new friendships were made. This didn’t stop us from partaking in a delicious Kittle House meal, from tasty passed hors d’oeuvres; to fresh, delectable salads; creamy orecchietti; and succulent Roasted John Boy’s Mountain View Farm Chicken. Strangely, we all seemed to find room for the scrumptious cake Grace and her kids had cut earlier. But I can guarantee that no one went home hungry.
On the way out, we each took a lovely long stemmed rose as a souvenir. It was a charming gesture, but no reminder will be needed for those of us who had the good fortune to celebrate our beloved friend, her indefatigable energy, her unwavering support, her undaunted courage and yes, her remarkable Grace.
Full credits appear on page 10 in Grace’s Just Between Us column.