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The late Mary Loretto Croghan Ramsay was known as one of Charleston’s most influential residents, giving of her time and resources to enrich the community in her generous support of both disabled individuals and the arts, including Spoleto Festival USA. And on Friday, April 13, her legacy was celebrated at Spoleto’s first annual 2012 Mary Ramsay Civic Award Luncheon in honor of this year’s recipients John and Norma Palms. The Palms were selected due to their assistance in the growth and development of numerous organizations, including of course Spoleto, as well as Trident United Way, Mepkin Abbey, Catholic education entities, and more.
Guests, eager to toast the philanthropic couple, arrived in high spirits to the Governor Thomas Bennett House clad in the prescribed afternoon dress of hats and flats giving the historic home’s garden a notably Royal Wedding look and feel. Norma looked especially springy in a vibrant pink feathered hat.
Mary Ramsay’s family was in attendance including her granddaughter named for the Croghan’s Jewel Box matriarch. Spoleto general director Nigel Redden mixed and mingled with the crowd, gearing up for his first of many 2012 festival parties to come. Attendees sipped white wine and chattered around the fountain as a string trio Charleston Virtuosi played in the background. Once seated, the Caviar & Bananas’ catered luncheon awaited with bowls of chilled minted pea soup with lemon cremato start followed by pan seared salmon with basil beurre blanc. Mitchell Crosby of JMC Charleston elegantly set the scene with tables overflowing with pink bouquets and lovely stripped green clothes, chandeliers of greenery, and matching glassware. Reverend David B. Thompson gave a touching invocation saluting Mary Ramsay, followed by speeches from chairman emeritus Charles S. Way, Jr. and chairman of the board, Carlos E. Evans and the bestowing of the award to the couple. The sun shone brightly as guests chatted underneath the luncheon tents. As the afternoon slipped away guests recalled a remarkable woman and an equally remarkable couple dedicated to the arts and the city of Charleston.