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Name Dropping – 2018 Jewel Ball Chairman

Charlotte Truitt Russell and Mr. William Hamer Russell

When Charlotte Russell White (Mrs. Dwayne Kent White) makes her appearance as Jewel Ball chairman at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, it will be a family affair. Among those cheering her on will be her mother, Janet Redheffer Russell (Mrs. William Hamer Russell), who served as chairman in 1982 and honorary chairman in 2013. Two of the pages are Charlotte’s grandchildren, Master Robert Owen Horner and Miss Charlotte Grace Dugger. Owen’s parents are Lindsey White Horner, who was a page in 1988, and her husband, Robert Eugene Horner. The younger Charlotte is the daughter of Emily Charlotte Dugger and her husband, Steven Douglas Dugger. Lindsey and Emily were presented at the Ball in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Two of Janet’s great-grandchildren will be presented on the evening of the 16th: Anna Lee Harding, debutante; and Robert Eugene Freeman, gentleman. 

Charlotte has fond memories of the year she was a debutante. “We hosted the traditional Grandfather, Father, Daughter Father’s Day Brunch at the home of the Everett Murrays on Ward Parkway. In their wonderful garden, we displayed mannequins of our fathers dressed for their favorite sports,” she said. Another party that June was held at the Kansas City Zoo. “One Jewel Ball deb rode an elephant!” Charlotte’s father made the night of the Ball magical for her: “I remember his proud smile as he guided me down South Terrace stairs for my bow.”    

This year, the debutantes and gentlemen will bow to Charlotte and to William McClellan Lyons, who will represent the Kansas City Symphony; and to Richard Calvin Green, Jr., representing The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Debutantes and Gentlemen of the Jewel Ball who are the grandchildren of past Jewel Ball chairmen include Emily Atwill Clarke, who was a page in 2006. She is the granddaughter of Sally Steele West, who served as chairman in 1999. Grace Christine Barton is the granddaughter of the late Hazel Hillix Barton Wells, who was chairman in 1975, and honorary chairman in 2009. John Maxwell Leonard is the grandson of Victoria Brigham Leonard, who was chairman in 2001.

Charlotte Russell White, a debutante in 1972; Melissa Russell Langstaff, a debutante in 1964; and Jennifer Russell Sawyer, a debutante in 1966

Charlotte was willing to provide a few hints about what we might see on June 16th. “Creating an atmosphere that will transport guests to ‘paradise,’ while complementing the beauty of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is the goal,” she said. “From my graphic design background, I have always loved combining complementary colors, creating a vibrant, sophisticated look and tone. I also am fascinated with the structure and angles of flowers.” Charlotte credited Kenneth Sherman, Trapp and Company; with turning her visions into breathtaking reality. 

Charlotte’s mother, who has attended nearly every Jewel Ball, is a source of wisdom. “I have so enjoyed sharing this experience with Mom and her sage advice has been invaluable,” Charlotte said, noting that she reminds Charlotte to “relax and enjoy every moment.” One constant is the feeling Charlotte gets each year as she enters the Ball: “I still get goosebumps every time!” 

By Heather N. Paxton 


Heather N. Paxton

Heather N. Paxton’s name first appeared in The Independent in a birth announcement back in — oh, never mind. In the mid-1990s, Heather joined the staff as a replacement for a friend who was expecting a visit from the stork. (Let’s hope Heather sent a baby present. The boy is a college graduate now.) Her 20s, 30s, 40s, and now her 50s: Heather has been a staff member for at least brief periods in all of these decades. She is most at home in the office when she is perusing the archives.


Bailey Pianalto Photography


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