Main Dish

Remembering Ray Browne: He Served

February 20, 2010

Friends and family gathered Friday at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown to celebrate the life and good work of longtime Georgetown resident Ray Browne.  Ray was known for his strong moral character, his meticulous style, his sense of public service to his neighborhood and Washington -- and his one vanity, always being tanned.

Ray was elected three times as the District’s unpaid shadow representative, charged with lobbying for congressional representation.  But he didn't just stay inside the Beltway.  At his own expense, he traveled the country to generate support for representation.  His long service in this sometimes thankless role led Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to remark that “Ray couldn’t have done his research before he ran for this non-paying job.” She was joined by the current shadow delegation, Senators Paul Strauss and Michael Brown and Representative Mike Panetta, as well as former Representatives Tom Bryant, John Capozzi and Charles Moreland.

Too devastated to take the lectern, no family members spoke at the funeral, but a diverse range of friends and officials described Ray's many kinds of service to his fellow man. He was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, having struggled for many years with the addiction, then becoming a sponsor to help others. His fellow AA members said he was always available to help them.

Other friends and supporters added to Ray’s memory. Nelson Rimensnyder decried The Washington Post's seeming disinterest in the shadow delegation despite Browne's excellent service. District activist Sam Gough described Ray's top priorities: God, family and the District of Columbia. A representative of Mayor Adrian Fenty brought the flag that was flown at half-mast at the District Building following Ray's death Feb. 13 (photo by Mike Panetta).

A native Washingtonian, Ray graduated from Osbourn High School in Manassas after his family relocated to northern Virginia. Later, he ran track at the University of Maryland. He worked as a general agent for the Aetna insurance company in the Piedmont before starting his own insurance comopany. Ray also served as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Georgetown, a mediator for the D.C. Superior Court, and as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Hurt Home for severely emotionally disturbed youths. He was on the Mayor's Commission on Alcoholism and the District's drug strategy team.

Ray was nothing if not a gentle but straight talker. When former Mayor Marion Barry sought a comeback seat on the D.C. Council in 1990, Ray called on Barry to withdraw from the campaign to focus on his drug-abuse recovery. Ray also was one of the few politicians brave enough to criticize Rep. Norton at times for her handling of the campaign in Congress for full representation. But because of his work with Norton and Rep. Tom Davis, the House passed a D.C. voting rights bill in 2007, which failed in the Senate. He was 71.

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Martin's Hosts Georgetown Dish "Meeting"

February 16, 2010

The Georgetown Dish held a "staff meeting" at Martin's Monday night, starting at 6:00 and ending, well...we're not sure exactly. Bartender Kevin Delaney kept the nutritious grape- and wheat-based beverages flowing, leading to a highly successful meeting. Since the agenda was vague, it can reliably be said that everything was accomplished. In addition to Managing Editor Bonnie Cain, Associate Publisher Judith Beermann, Hollywood on the Potomac's Janet Donovan, Mary Bird, The Luxe Life's Tricia Huntley, Wendy Gordon, photographer Leslie Kamrad and intern Nika P. Nour, friends of the Dish including Kiki Ryan, Jackie Kucinich, Fran Berk, Alex Ruttenberg, Anne Hawke, David Bass, Tim Burger and Bruce Drake joined the "meeting."

When the gathering's convener warned Delaney that she had forgotten her wallet, he said, "You should have told me that after I poured you a drink." He then threatened to call the police, but soon began passing out the first of many delicious Stella Artoix. The Dish thanks its dear contributors and friends. Hitting new traffic records each week, it is attracting over 10,000 visitors per month.

Just so you know: "In the late 1890s, William S. Martin traveled from Galway, Ireland to America. Forty years later, he and his son, William G. Martin, opened Martin’s Tavern on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street NW."
In 1949, William G. Martin’s son, William A. Martin, joined the Tavern after serving in the Navy during World War II.  William A. Martin attended Georgetown University Medical School, and excelled as a Golden-Gloves boxer and Pro-Am golfer. His stories of “The Dugout,” recalling countless meetings with Speaker Sam Rayburn, Senator Lyndon Johnson, and other monumental Capitol Hill leaders, were passed on to his son, current owner Billy Martin.

Martin's recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Judith Beermann and Jackie Kucinich celebrate the 75th anniversary carefully.

Ron Newman is in charge at the bar, and as Martin's general manager.








Kevin Delaney does the important work behind the bar, while Bonnie Cain and Beth Solomon pose.

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Out of the Spotlight, Ex-Officials Touch Lives in Global Rescue

February 15, 2010

There was chocolate. The wine flowed. But when a clutch of ex-White House officials and friends gathered recently in an elegant West End townhouse, it was not the average party. Former Laura Bush chief of staff Anita McBride and a circle of colleagues including former labor department official Martha Newton got together to support the Touch A Life Foundation, a group that rescues enslaved and abandoned children worldwide.

There wasn't much glitz, there were no flashbulbs or Comme des Garçons gowns -- but simply a determined, quiet pursuit of good deeds that some say has been missing in Washington since klieg lights and heat-seeking personalities became the reigning zeitgeist. In short, it was a relief to be at a party whose meaning was the people and the purpose, not the paparazzi. 

Some of that has to do with an unlikely heroine named Pam Cope (pictured above between Martha Newton and Chris Edwards).

Ten years ago, Cope owned a hair salon in a small town in Missouri. She worried about matching the pillows and curtains in her living room and driving her daughter to dance class. Then, her 15-year-old son Jantsen died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart ailment. The ground disappeared from under her feet. The sky turned black. Drowning in sorrow, Cope almost lost the will to live.

A caring husband and worried sisters circled around her, unable to snap her out of the darkness. When a friend invited her to visit orphanages in Vietnam, Cope reluctantly agreed. Then, something happened to Cope's hurting heart. The plight of these children somehow broke through her pain, giving her a reason to live. Over the next several years, Cope and her husband rescued dozens of abandoned children from the streets of Vietnam, bringing them into the care of missionaries. The Touch A Life Foundation was born.

On a weekend trip to New York, Cope's heart stopped again when she saw a front-page New York Times photo of a tiny boy in Africa who had been sold into slavery to spend endless days diving for nets at the bottom of a lake in a commercial fishing operation. 

"As soon as I saw Mark Kwadwo's photo that morning, and read about what he was made to endure as a child slave....I didn't know how, or if, I could help him but I knew that if there was any way to get him off Lake Volta, where he fished 14 hours a day, I was going to give it my very best shot," Cope wrote in an arresting memoir, Jantsen’s Gift.

Cope broadened Touch A Life and headed to West Africa. In the last three years, the group has rescued over 70 children in Ghana as well as expanding its programs in Vietnam and Cambodia. Kwadwo is a happy, healthy, and thriving seven-year-old at the Village of Hope orphanage outside Accra, living with his siblings Kofi and Hagar—whom the group also rescued from slavery.

Martha Newton has juiced Touch A Life’s wide-ranging efforts since she joined last fall. During the 2008 election season, her husband casually suggested she might go back to work. It didn't take long for the can-do former Bush aide to get called onto the campaign trail -- as Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's staff secretary -- one of the inner-most in the inner circle. After logging thousands of miles in hotels and motels in just about every state in the land, Newton thought it might be time to find work a little closer to home. But Touch A Life, with its work around the globe, was an opportunity the expert in international trafficking crimes couldn't turn down. 

"I'm proud that my friends from the Bush White House are doing such good things," McBride said, unstinting in her loyalty to the former President and First Lady. Also at the gathering were White House and Interior aide Lori Yates (now spearheading special events at the National Zoo), the brother and sister team of Chris Edwards and Dana Edwards Manatos, and others.

Touch A Life is drawing on those friends to help more kids in more countries.

Edward Marc Chocolatier -- the family business of Chris and Dana Edwards -- has teamed up with the foundation to donate up to 20% of sales to the program. "Chocolate is not Democratic or Republican," said Chris. "The most important campaign is reaching out and helping others that are in need."

Touch A Life has already drawn the attention of Hollywood. Malaak Compton-Rock, wife of comedian Chris Rock and founder of Journey for Change, has teamed with Touch A Life to launch a trans-Atlantic youth service and advocacy partnership, “From Captivity to Capitol Hill," which will launch in March. The African-American celebrity activist and the Missouri mom are the closest of friends -- bound by their commitment to rescuing child trafficking victims. 

"I always secretly desired to live a life of purpose—a life of meaning, a life of living out my passion," Cope said in a speech recently. "I just hadn’t the slightest idea of what that looked like for me.” What it looks like now is a global rescue operation that is saving children and changing the world.

Read more about the Touch A Life Foundation here.

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