October 16, 2015
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Find a fabulous person and you are sure to find a fascinating answer to any question you may pose. All too often, these fabulous few are rarely quoted on the subjects that truly capture our curiosity. We would love your ideas of what to ask these Chicago celebrities in the future. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s question: What is your favorite destination?
Turning 102 next month, Peggy Carr can recite from memory all hair-raising verses of Robert Service’s “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and sing every camp song from her childhood — and still reign as Chicago’s most elegant and engaged woman. Shaper of the direction of some of Chicago’s most significant social service organizations, such as the Chicago Child Care Society, the Junior League of Chicago, and Planned Parenthood, Peggy can be counted on to ask the first and also the best questions at programs across Chicago, while usually enjoying three social engagements daily.
Peggy’s Place: Honolulu, Hawaii
“I’ll never forget Steamboat, the beach boy who took me surf boarding 67 years ago. I would paddle out with him until the waves reached our shoulders, and then it was heavenly choosing which wave was mine. Steamboat would help me stand up on the board and ride it all the way into shore. My son Terry was three at time.
Steamboat worked during the week for Dearborn Chemical Company, where my husband’s cousin Bob Carr worked, but Steamboat was a beach boy on the weekends. Many friends from my Sarah Lawrence days were there, and the beach boys, with names like Steamboat, Chic Evans and Panama, taught us Hawaiian songs as well.”
Stunning Stuart Mesires launched Ladybug Vintage, named the best source for high-end vintage in Chicago by Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog Goop, in 2009. Focused primarily on the international glamour and country club chic of the 1960s and 1970s, Ladybug brings out the “archeologist” in Stuart, who has had a lifelong passion for treasure hunting with her expertise in the worlds of fashion and design. The look is whimsy, refinement and insouciance, signatures for Stuart. Volunteering for the Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital is a joy.
Stuart’s Place: The Thousand Islands in upstate New York
“My husband, George, grew up spending summers in this archipelago of over 1,800 islands that straddle the Canada-U.S. border on the Saint Lawrence River. I love vintage antiques and finding out about the history of things, so it is a natural fit. I find a sense of history in a place that time forgot. It is almost a living museum of the Gilded Age. Many of the vacation homes and ‘castles’ built during the late 1800s and early 1900s still remain standing. Additionally, it is a haven for antique wooden boats and home to the Antique Boat Museum, the largest of its kind.
“This past summer, I curated an exhibit for the Thousand Islands Arts Center called ‘Summer Dress: An Evolution,’ tracing the history of summer dressing from the Gilded Age through the 1980s. I featured many dresses worn by summer residents.”
President of Eckhardt Trading Company, John Fornengo is beloved in Chicago for his humor, hospitality and sense of style. The classic elegance of his house, designed by his late wife, DeeDee, mirrors his grace with people. Being father to three poised and accomplished children, and traveling with them to fascinating places around the world, is foremost to John.
John’s Places: Splendido in Portofino, Italy and Crans-Montana, Switzerland
“My favorite place — I am so glad you asked! Two spots come to mind (too hard to pick just one). I’d love to go back.
“First, the Splendido in Portofino, perched majestically above the sea. My children and I spent a glorious time there (very relaxing, as I wanted to change nothing). We watched a full lunar eclipse one night while we ate on the terrace. We would walk into the magical town below, and the whole thing seemed like a dream.
“On the same trip, we had a chalet in Switzerland in the ski village of Crans-Montana that was designed perfectly. It was at the top of a mountain and looked across a valley to a green plateau on the opposite mountain with a village and flocks of sheep. It was summer, there were lupines in our garden under the pines. The food was delicious and we hiked each day. We left my middle child there in camp. Here, too, I relaxed as everything was to my liking.”
A former banker investigating start-up opportunities, Gigi Stender Schwertfeger is a mentor and associate board member of Chicago Scholars, a not-for-profit dedicated to improving college graduation rates in Chicago. The program continues to grow each year with more than 400 scholars.
Gigi and her filmmaker husband, Andrew, are currently teamed with seven high school seniors, helping them with college applications and the admissions process. She loves taking sewing and golf lessons in her spare time.
Gigi’s Place: Moyo Island, Indonesia
“Our honeymoon choice east of Bali, it was magical for both its beauty and the kindness of the people. We stayed at a small, private resort on an untouched nature and marine reserve. The brochure was right when it called our resort ‘a private paradise surrounded by the turquoise waters and pristine reefs of the Flores Sea.’
“It was sad to leave, but when we pulled away from the dock in our boat, the staff who had become our friends, lined up and waved until we were out of sight. Andrew and I still smile about that moment because the waving truly didn’t stop for more than 10 minutes.”
Judy’s People will appear in Classic Chicago each month. Please send me your questions to pose and people to ask.