NUGENT firstname.lastname@example.org_county.owen_sound.the_sun_times 2007-08-24 published
WILSON, Gail Patricia
Peacefully, at the Grey Bruce Regional Health Services in Owen Sound. Surrounded by the love of her family on Monday, August 20th, 2007. Gail Patricia WILSON of Owen Sound. Loving mother of Patricia CORNACCHIA and husband Rocco, of Pickering, Deborah HARVEY, and her husband Robert, Angela McGREGOR, and her husband Jim, both of Owen Sound. Sadly missed by her grandchildren, her Friends, and her children's father, Joe NUGENT Sr. Predeceased by their son, Michael NUGENT. A private family service has been held at the St. Stanislaus cemetery, in Chatsworth. If so desired the family would appreciate donations to the Jim Millman Memorial Trust Fund and may be made through the Brian E. Wood Funeral Home, 250 - 14th Street West, Owen Sound (519-376-7492).
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NUGENT email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-09-22 published
Socialite's Brazilian Carnival Ball raised millions for Toronto charities
Using organizational skills and strategy worthy of a Bay Street Chief Executive Officer, she transformed a church-basement affair into the social event of the season, writes Sandra MARTIN
By Sandra MARTIN, Page S11
Italian and Brazilian in ancestry, Anna Maria DE SOUZA heated up the staid fundraising climate in Toronto with the Brazilian Carnival Ball, probably the most significant philanthropic gala on the Canadian social calendar. A warm-blooded, energetic outsider, she had the entrepreneurial zeal, organizing skills and shrewd ambition of a self-made Chief Executive Officer. But, instead of starting a company or a launching a hedge fund, she camouflaged those skills under the patina of a society hostess. Using old-fashioned influence, rather than naked power, she forged alliances with charitable foundations in campaigns that raised their profiles, her status, and close to $45-million for Toronto hospitals, universities and arts and culture organizations over the past 40 years.
For all her flamboyance, Ms. DE SOUZA was intensely private. Nobody knew her real age - not even her husband Ivan, as she loved to boast. "I've known her for 35 years and it never occurred to me to wonder," said her friend Catherine NUGENT. " She was one of those people who was ageless."
Along with Ms. DE SOUZA's success came complaints about her management style. She seemed unapologetic to criticisms that she was territorial and a micro-manager who autocratically chose the event's annual beneficiary. "This is big business, and the organization requires that we have a good board to sell the ball, a recipient who will pay for our computers, our secretarial staff," she told Maclean's last year. "This work requires a huge infrastructure." And even knowing how much work was involved, if Ms. DE SOUZA asked if you wanted to be the beneficiary of the Brazilian Carnival Ball, "there was absolutely no reason to say no," said Paul ALOFS, president of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation "because it is such a massive fundraising and awareness-generating opportunity for a not-for-profit."
Although the ball was her biggest activity, it wasn't her only one. She also volunteered on the women's committee of the Canadian Opera Company and was the curator of the Henry Birks Antique Collection of Silver in the late 1970s. A passionate gardener and a keen tennis player, she loved to entertain and to cook for her guests. "She was the most generous, vivacious person I know," said Ms. NUGENT. " She loved to introduce people to each other and to grow her circle of Friends, but she was also shy."
Anna Maria DE SOUZA, the daughter of Amadeu GUIDI and his wife Honorica (née MARCOLLINI,) was born in Sao Sebastiao de Parasio in the mountainous state of Minas Geras in the interior of Brazil. She grew up in a family of four brothers and one sister. Her grandfather on her mother's side had immigrated from Genoa, Italy, as a teenager and found a job as a construction worker building homes for plantation workers, according to Rosemary Sexton in The Glitter Girls, Charity and Vanity: Chronicles of an Age of Excess.
When money was scarce, her grandfather was paid in land. Eventually he accumulated enough acreage to start his own plantation and enough wealth to take his family back to Genoa on a trip. There, he bought a villa. For the rest of his life he spent half the year in Italy and the other in Brazil. When his daughter, Honorica, married, Mr. MARCOLLINI handed over control of his Brazilian plantation to her new husband, Amadeu. That's where his granddaughter, Anna Maria, grew up, in what she later compared to paradise. It was a time in which life "was gracious and slow and everything was looked after." She was educated at the Collegio Paula Frassinette in Brazil where she earned a teaching degree, and then attended the Escola Técnica de Comercio C.A.
At 18, she married William John GRIFFITHS, an English mining engineer for Wimpey Construction, a British firm that had a contract to build a dam in Brazil. Anna Maria went into labour with their first child on Good Friday, a holiday in Brazil. Her doctor was away, the birth was arduous and afterward Anna Maria was unable to bear more children. The baby, a daughter, lived for only 23 days. To compound the tragedy, her husband died in a work-related accident 10 months later.
Widowed, and still in her teens, Anna Maria went to live with her grandmother in Italy where she attended finishing school. Afterward, sailing back to Brazil on a cruise ship, she met a Brazilian plantation owner who urged her to get involved in the coffee exporting business. As chance would have it, at a party in Rio de Janeiro on New Year's Eve in 1964, Anna Maria met a man named John MARSTON, who said he imported bulk foods into Canada. If she had products to sell, he was interested in seeing them.
With an insouciant entrepreneurship, she gathered some samples from the family coffee plantation and set out for Canada, arriving in Toronto in gloomiest February, 1965. She looked up Mr. MARSTON and married him three months later in a Protestant ceremony, which her mother, a Catholic, boycotted. "I fell in love with Toronto and the only thing I could do to stay was to get married," she once confided. By 1974, the MARSTONs had divorced, Anna Maria complaining later that her husband was a workaholic who had little interest in married life.
Anna Maria had long since found ways to make her own life more interesting. Homesickness propelled her "to kill the longing" by organizing her first Brazilian Ball in 1966, the winter after she arrived in Canada, in a church basement at Dundas and Grace Streets, a largely Portuguese area of Toronto. Tickets cost $5, the food for the 50 guests was prepared by Anna Maria and her Friends, and the aim was merely to cover costs and bring a little Mardi Gras colour to the dreary Toronto winter. The ball quickly became a tradition.
By the early 1970s, the ball, which had quickly moved above ground to the Sutton Place Hotel and then the Sheraton Centre, was making a small profit, with the proceeds going to a Brazilian orphanage. That tradition has continued with five per cent of the annual profits benefiting leper colonies, old age homes and other causes in or around her hometown. When Toronto charities began asking if they could reap the ball's annual largesse, Anna Maria astutely decided to bestow the fundraising benefits on a different cause every time, thereby hooking into a fresh network and set of volunteers annually.
Krystyne GRIFFIN attended her first Brazilian Ball in 1977, the year she left Paris, married businessman and Griffin Poetry Prize founder and benefactor Scott GRIFFIN, and moved to Toronto. "Everybody told me this was the party to go to because it showed that Toronto could be fun." They were correct. "A guy in drag dressed like Queen Alexandra walked up and smacked Scott right on the lips. That was my introduction to Anna Maria's parties," said Ms. GRIFFIN. "I liked her without knowing her well."
The ball celebrated its 14th anniversary in 1980 at the Four Seasons Hotel on Avenue Road in Toronto and netted $50,000. That's where it stayed until 1988, when it moved to the yawning depths of the Metro Toronto Convention Hotel, the only venue that could accommodate crowds upward of 1,000.
Disaffected by her globe-trotting, work-obsessed husband, Anna Maria met the late Montagu Black at the Brazilian Carnival Ball in the early 1970s, and he thought she should meet his younger brother, Conrad, who was then plying his way as an aspiring tycoon and researching his biography of Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis. Eventually, lawyer Igor Kaplan introduced them and they dated for about two years after her 1974 divorce. "She was a delightful, refreshing, and enterprising person, and was a very popular and respected person in a community where she started as a stranger and, at first, hardly spoke the language," Conrad Black wrote in an e-mail message yesterday. "I saw her a lot at the time my parents died, 10 days apart, in 1976, and she could not have been more supportive."
Anna Maria's lasting love, however, was businessman Ivan DE SOUZA. Introduced by Marvelle KOFFLER, wife of Murray KOFFLER of Shoppers Drug Mart, they had much in common, both being Portuguese-speaking and Catholic. They were married on December 22, 1982, and were devoted to each other.
More than the venue of the ball changed over the years. As it became more lavish and raised more money (much of it matched by government programs with costs underwritten by corporate sponsors), so, too, did the entertainment. Instead of handmade decorations on a carnival theme, Ms. DE SOUZA began importing carnival dancers from Brazil. That meant switching the date from Mardi Gras (the carnival on the eve of Lent, the 40-day period of penance preceding Easter in the Catholic calendar) to April or May so that the dancers could travel to Toronto in their off-season.
At the 40th anniversary of the ball in 2006, the $2-million in net proceeds went to York University's Accolade Project and the 1,600 guests were entertained by a 30-minute samba parade from the Rio Carnival - including 50 dancers in feathered, beaded and bejewelled costumes processing on foot or on wooden horses - to the beat of the batucada rhythm supplied by the Cocktail Brazil Band.
Last November, Ms. DE SOUZA was diagnosed with rampaging cancer and underwent rigorous treatment that included chemotherapy at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. She looked frail, but valiant, at the 2007 ball, which was held April 21 and raised $2.6-million net for the Arthritis and Autoimmunity Research Centre in Toronto. "She and the ball were a brand, and for a very small organization like us, she had a tremendous impact. She did a great job," said Gerri Grant, executive director of the AARC.
About a month ago, Ms. DE SOUZA went back into hospital for more treatment, but was well enough to decide that oncology nursing, through the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, should be the focus and the beneficiary of the 2008 Brazilian ball - the first one that will occur without her dominant presence.
Anna Maria DE SOUZA was born in Brazil, probably in 1941. She died in Toronto on September 18, 2007. She was in her mid-60s. She is survived by her third husband, Ivan DE SOUZA, her step-son John, and her extended family.
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