Black Tie & Tales


Black Tie & Tales


Date: October 9, 2013
by: Black Tie Staff


Sarasota's beloved Jewel
It was a sad day last week in the Black Tie department as news arrived that sweet Jewel Ash had died. Ash had been a friend to many of us here, so we wanted to share a few memories of her.

Molly Schechter:
The Sarasota Opera Guild; Sunshine from Darkness (international mental health research organization); Temple Beth Israel of Longboat Key; Catholic Charities; The Sahib Shrine; Jewish Family & Children’s Service; Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center; St. Jude Catholic Church Hispanic-American Center; Circus Sarasota; Designing Women Boutique, where she was a longtime board member, styling chairwoman and originator of the Salon Series; Senior Friendship Centers; and the list goes on …

There are 117 photos of Jewel Ash in our Black Tie online galleries, which only go back to 2006 — a tiny, but telling, descriptor of the extent of her community involvement. And she was not just a name on a committee list; she really worked.

If “stalwart” is an odd word to describe a delightfully delicate little lady, it is an apt one. Jewel was as determined and persistent as she was kind and generous.

Before they wed in 1978, Jewel took Mike Ash to her doctor, wanting him to fully understand her medical history. The doctor told them, “You’ll be lucky to have five years together.” They had 35. She was proud of and happy about that, as she had every right to be.

Stephanie Hannum:
Although I always loved seeing Jewel’s smiling face at events, I especially loved the occasional phone call from her saying, “We need to have lunch. I have a dress for you.”

Jewel’s husband, Mike, had gifted her a few dresses that she didn’t feel were “her” and that she thought I would love (I guess Mike knows our little secret now!). Our lunches always took place at Bijou Café, and because she knew I loved its famous pommes gratin dauphinois, she always ordered them and acted like she’d help eat them, which she never did. She just wanted to see me happy, and that was one of the many things that was so special about Jewel. I wore the dresses she gifted me this week in her honor and will continue to miss her friendship.

Emily Walsh:
Who knew that someone so small in stature could behold so much power? Well, this BT Editor certainly didn’t until she unleashed it upon me during the Designing Women fashion shows that she so expertly styled for so many years. Many of you know that my style is, uh, let’s say conservative. The only, and I mean only person who could ever convince me to wear a white suit with nothing underneath the suit jacket but a lacy bra was Jewel Ash. And, believe it or not, I did it. And I did it because I loved her. And, I’ll have to agree with her ... I didn’t look half bad! Well, being in my late 20s at the time probably didn’t hurt, either.

On to happily ever after
Peter Plotkin and Diane McNeel met at a philanthropy roundtable meeting Nov. 4, 2000, in Pasadena, Calif. But when Peter proposed to Diane Aug. 20 — on bended knee, as she had specified — he wanted the wedding to take place before the end of the year. Diane is an organizer extraordinaire, so a mere five weeks later, on the morning of Oct. 1, they said their vows at their Casey Key home, with John Kidd, the bride’s brother, officiating. They celebrated that evening with 170 guests at Cap Joie, the home of friends Anders and Katherine Ebbeson.

The party was a love feast featuring the couple’s favorite foods — hotdogs and a devil’s food groom’s cake topped with Cool Whip for Peter and steak Diane for the bride — as part of a bounteous spread prepared by Paul Mattison. In a toast by Diane’s son Ian, he described his new stepdad as “one of the last true gentlemen.”

Singer/songwriter Jordan Bennett came from Los Angeles to perform a program including the nonagenarian groom’s request for “Hello Young Lovers” and a duet with Sarasota reggae queen Shantel Norman.

Black Tie debut
There’s a new BT gal on the scene! Heather Merriman, a graduate of Cardinal Mooney and the University of Alabama, has moved back to Sarasota to take over as the Observer’s Black Tie assistant editor. Shaun and Wendy Merriman’s daughter is no stranger to Sarasota or its charities. In high school, she volunteered with Teens for Wishes, and she is currently serving on various event committees. 

Keep up to date with BT by following her on Facebook, Twitter (@blcktie) and Instagram (@blacktie_untied).


In SEASON Magazine’s Black Tie editors’ picks, the date of “Paws on Palm” was incorrectly stated. The event is Thursday, Nov. 7.

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