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The Jewel Ball – 2021 Honorary Chairman

Ellen Jurden, Jewel Ball debutante in 1957  Reprinted from the book, The Jewel Ball (2004).

Ellen Jurden Hockaday is serving as the honorary chairman of the 2021 Jewel Ball. Ellen is a member of an extended family known for philanthropy and accomplishments. Her maternal grandparents, Dr. Emma Arabella Thompson and Dr. Oscar N. Thompson, were physicians in Breckenridge, Missouri, and Emma was honored as the 1949 Missouri State Mother. Ellen’s mother, Helen Thompson Jurden, was a French teacher prior to her marriage to Leonard Wells Jurden, who served as the director of the 11-state Central Region of the Federal Aviation Agency. Ellen is a graduate of The Barstow School. She attended Smith College and graduated from The University of Kansas. Ellen is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Ellen was a Jewel Ball debutante in 1957. One of her fellow debs was Laura Rollins Hockaday, whose mother, Clara Stager Hockaday (Mrs. Burnham Hockaday), was a co-founder of The Jewel Ball. That year, Clara was on stage representing the Kansas City Philharmonic, and the girls bowed to her, as well as to Josephine Reid Stubbs (Mrs. Charles Stephen Stubbs III), who was chairman, and David Thomas Beals, who represented The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. In 1961, Ellen married Clara’s nephew, Irvine Oty Hockaday, Jr., a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Michigan Law School. His future career would include stints as president and CEO of Kansas City Southern Industries and president and CEO of Hallmark Cards. Clara served as Jewel Ball chairman in 1964, and Irv’s mother, Helen McCune Hockaday (Mrs. Irvine Oty Hockaday), was the 1967 Jewel Ball chairman.       

In 1992, when Ellen was the chairman of The Jewel Ball, the theme was French, with teal as a dominant color. Debutantes making their bows in Kirkwood Hall entered through a wire gazebo amid a profusion of deep coral begonias. The decorations in Rozzelle Court included plaid linens and teal and raspberry cloths. The center fountain featured floating swans with bouquets, plus a French nosegay. 

Ellen and Irv are the parents of Wendy Hockaday Burcham (Mrs. James Grant Burcham) and Laura Hockaday Hall (Mrs. David Earl Hall). Wendy and Laura were Jewel Ball pages in 1970 and 1974, respectively, and debutantes in 1981 and 1984. Wendy was Jewel Ball chairman in 2019. The Hockadays have nine grandchildren. Eight have been presented at the Ball, with the ninth slated for this year. 

Saint Luke’s Hospital has been dear to the hearts of the Hockadays. Ellen has served as a board member of Saint Luke’s Hospital and the Saint Luke’s Health System. She was a co-chairman of the “Campaign for the New Saint Luke’s.” The Ellen Hockaday Center for Women’s Care, which was dedicated in 2010, bears her name. Numerous other organizations have greatly benefited from the involvement of Ellen and Irv, including the Center for Practical Bioethics, Crittenton Center, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Life Unlimited, the March of Dimes, and Wayside Waifs. 

This year’s Jewel Ball will be held on November 27th at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Susan Campbell Heddens (Mrs. Barret Spencer Heddens III) is the chairman.     

Also featured in the October 2, 2021 issue of The Independent
By Heather N. Paxton



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