- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 17, 2004

“What was she like? Did you know her?” asked Lady Manning, the Oxford-educated, coolly blond wife of British Ambassador David Manning, who writes novels under the pen name Elizabeth Ironside.

While the Mannings never met the late Washington social legend Evangeline Bruce, “Vangie” would certainly have approved of Thursday night’s cocktail reception at the embassy to benefit Sasha Bruce Youthwork, Inc.

It was just the right mix of friends (Liz Stevens, Ann Jordan, Marie Ridder, Pie Friendly, Ann Pincus) and supporters (Mary Noble Ours, Mary Haft, former Clinton social secretary Capricia Marshall) nibbling on Scotch eggs, baby lamb chops and other Brit-bits, washed down with Gordon’s and tonic and champagne.

Mrs. Bruce, author and social arbiter whose Georgetown residence was considered by many to be the epicenter of entertaining in the nation’s capital, died in 1995. She founded the charity —which provides the only emergency runaway shelter for teenage girls in Washington — in 1977 in her daughter’s memory. In years past, the benefits have been star- studded events, co-chaired by the late Katharine Graham and Susan Mary Alsop.

But it was Evangeline Bruce whose presence was most felt.

“I met her a few times. She was a very, very kind lady. A lot of convictions,” said George Johnson, one of the center’s directors. “We always struggle to get money. Money is definitely an issue, to keep the doors open.”

Tickets for Thursday’s event ranged from $200 to $1,000 per person and included a screening of the film “Finding Neverland” at the Avalon Theater after the reception. The reception was held on the patio of the residence overlooking the still-flowering rose garden.

“She’s definitely here in spirit. I’m one of the new members of the board,” said Jane Rosenthal Cafritz, who co-chaired the event with Ann Jordan and Constance Luessenhop Bruce, “and a lot of the old-timers got involved with this because of her. The organization is doing a lot of what the city isn’t doing, and should do. Free drug counseling for kids, also.”

Yet the hot topic of the evening was the upcoming election.

“I know that John Kerry is going to win,” said Marie Ridder, a former board member of the charity.

“I love Teresa,” Miss Ridder said of the candidate’s wife.

As for the present occupants of the White House: “They have no interest in the outside world,” added Pie Friendly.

“Laura Bush is wonderful. I really admire her and I’m a died-in-the-wool Democrat. But Teresa is much more imaginative, much more thoughtful and much more in tune with the needs of America.”

— Stephanie Mansfield

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