Presidents past, present attend 30th Phoenix Ball

Bonnie Bucy • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Bob Clement and his wife, Mary, were the president and first lady of Cumberland University 30 years ago when Mary Clement founded the first Phoenix Ball as a means to raise funds and intermingle the college with Lebanon and Wilson County.

Harvill Eaton and his wife, Lois, serve as president and first lady of the privately funded college today, and all four were on hand to celebrate the 30th Phoenix Ball, which remains in many circles as the most prestigious event on the area’s social calendar.

“I don't know if I even thought back then about it going on this long, but I'm so glad to see it has,” Mary Clement said. “In addition to raising money, it was a way to intermingle Cumberland with the rest of Lebanon and get involved together. Back in those early days, we had the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Glen Miller, all the great orchestras and there were so many wonderful people that worked with us to put on the affair.”

In honor of the 30th year, the ball moved back into the Dallas Floyd Gym, which allowed for more space. Following an hour and a half cocktail hour that allowed the guests to tour a silent auction area where bids were taken electronically instead of the usual paper-and-pen format, the 240 guests were then ushered into the tented and decorated gym where an multi-course dinner and other presentations were made prior to an evening of dancing that continued until the wee hours of Sunday morning. 

Meteorologist Lisa Patton served as emcee.

“I have a cold, and with all the heavy rains that are supposed to be coming in, I brought my sexy voice to the Phoenix Ball.”

Following a musical invocation by alumnus Hannah Clement and student Gromyho Weir, Jay White of Agee and Johnson called the live auction with three items featured. A Night at the Capitol, donated by Pam and Bob Black, went for $6,000. The silver rendition of the Phoenix Medallion, donated by Cox's Jewelry, went for $1,000, and the President's Dinner brought $11,200.

Following dinner, several presentations were made and people recognized prior to the Craig Duncan Orchestra and Deejay Louis Lee providing music for dancing, which included late participants from the earlier ball and a couple dozen people who paid to attend the after-hours ball, which also made its return to the schedule this year.

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