Wisdom Workout: Celebrating Club’s Woman of the Year

By Susan McNeal Velasquez.
By Susan McNeal Velasquez.

Last Friday, the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club held its annual Woman of the Year luncheon. This year, Peggie Thomas was the deserving recipient. Gayle Waite chaired the event and it was beautifully executed from start to finish.

University of Michigan’s colors, blue and yellow, were chosen in honor of Peggie’s alma mater. By the time the doors opened, the room was bright with blue tablecloths, yellow napkins, yellow flowers, and an attentive staff of volunteers signing in guests.

The food was meticulously prepared by ReMarks Restaurant, Mark DePalma’s newest creation located on Laguna Canyon Road, right next to the Sawdust Festival grounds.

Robin Pierson, one of my favorite local writers, captured the essence of Peggie Thomas when she highlighted her generous and kind spirit coupled with a focused intellect that has brought a multitude of benefits to this community.

Mayor Kelly Boyd delivered a city proclamation. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by Sydney Haik, a sparkly-eyed, beautiful, 7 year old soloist with a voice as full and rich as a yellow sunrise bursting forth to usher in a bright new day.

The tributes touched on many of Peggie’s unique qualities that allow her to work so seamlessly with diverse personalities without a ripple of controversy. Peggie does everything with quiet dignity, coupled with an unwavering vision and a strong devotion to children’s educational needs.

What does it mean to have “quiet dignity”?

It is a level of importance and value that one carries within. It naturally engenders others respect, and at the same time, elevates others self respect.

As the mistress of ceremony, Carol Reynolds created a tapestry of high-minded opportunities for eloquent tributes from Dr. Joanne Culverhouse, principal of Laguna Beach High School; Barbara Antonacci, Peggie’s TLC partner; Cheri David, El Morro Elementary first grade teacher; Pat Griggs and Nancy Miller, AAUW members; Elsa Brizzi, special projects partner and Woman’s Club board member; and Ellie Tipton Ortiz, the Woman’s Club current president.

Carol, as emcee, initiated a brilliant approach to her introductions of each speaker by creating an umbrella using a theme. She thoughtfully acknowledged each speaker by sharing an example of their professional wisdom as visionaries, innovators and inspirers.

The result was an exquisite concert of words that both honored Peggie and gave all of us in attendance an opportunity to bask in the light of a room filled with personal and professional brilliance.

The Woman’s Club has been in existence for the past 90 years. This yearly signature event brings a chance to be a part of a Laguna Beach tradition that is one more reason to rejoice in how lucky we are to be a part of this community.

The Woman’s Club is located at 286 St. Ann’s Dr.  For more information, make sure to visit www.wclb.org.


Susan is the author of “Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind.” For seminars and consulting services contact her at: susanvelsquez.com.

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