BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
On October 29, 620 guests were on hand for a dazzling double celebration at the Field Museum: the fiftieth anniversary of the museum’s Women’s Board and Marshall Field V’s fifty years of service as Museum Trustee.
Even Sue the Dinosaur and her friends, the fighting elephants, were specially lit that night in festive celebration. Women’s Board Gala Chair, Caryn Harris, thought up every detail for the evening, which raised an astonishing $2,150,000 for Field Museum programs.
A celebratory video created by Donna la Pietra and Bill Kurtis featured Field President and CEO, Richard Lariviere; Board President, Connie Keller; as well as a host of leaders including Ron Gidwitz; Judy Block; Caryn Harris; past Field CEO John McCarter; Jim Rowe; John Bryan; Marshall’s daughters Jamee Field Kane (now a Field Museum Trustee), Stephanie Field Harris, and Abby Field Gerry; as well as son, Marshall Field VI, and his daughter, Chloe Field. Especially moving was his wife, Jamee’s, description of her husband as “true blue” (not to mention the chorus of “We love you Grumsie!” from Field’s young grandchildren).
Presenting Field with a bronze model of those iconic fighting elephants, Connie Keller announced the creation of the Marshall Field V Award, which will be presented to Field Museum leaders and visionaries who have pioneered transformation or significant initiatives at the Museum.
Paired with the Field video was a tribute to the Women’s Board. Current Women’s Board President, Susan Clark McBride, joined a bevy of past presidents including Carol Swift, Judy Block, Ellen O’Connor, Laura Front, Barbara Pearlman, Bonnie Stearns, Karen Gray-Krehbiel, and Kathleen Klaeser for the celebration. According to Richard Lariviere: “It is impossible to overstate the positive impact of the Women’s Board, which was started in 1966 by Ellen Thorne Smith and a dynamic group of civic leaders.”
The evening also celebrated Marshall Field’s commitment to conservation. He had earlier spoken with Caryn on the subject:
“As climate change came into focus as an issue, it dawned on me that the solution lay in our ability to predict what’s coming and to prepare for it. The only way you can reliably predict the future is by studying the past.
“The earth has experienced many changes in climate. The Museum has been collecting for more than 120 years, and some of the objects are millions of years old. So, this is the place to learn how climate affected them and infer what a changing climate might mean for today’s environment. When I realized this, the collections became, for me, the most important part of the Museum.”
Marshall, who has described himself as “one of about three people in the world who loves to fundraise,” shared his adage with us: “I always tell people, ‘If you are raising money, you won’t be good at it unless it’s fun, so have a good time!’”