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'Pete and Repeat' Get Their Due, Long Overdue

October 25, 2015

Peters' neighbors Catherine Bowman, Daisy Peebles, Cora and Bertha Guerra (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Peters' neighbors Catherine Bowman, Daisy Peebles, Cora and Bertha Guerra

Saturday, October 24, 2015 marked the official dedication of Rose Park Tennis Courts to Margaret and Roumania Peters Walker. Affectionately called 'Pete and Repeat,' these Georgetown sisters and trailblazing tennis stars rose to fame playing on the (then clay) courts of Rose Park in the late 1930's. 

In an era when blacks were segregated from whites in both national and international competitions, the sisters played in the American Tennis Association (ATA) national championships in Wilberforce University in Ohio. The ATA had been founded in 1916 by a group of African American businessmen, college professors, and physicians who wanted to promote the game of tennis and provide a forum for competition at the national level. The ATA provided the finest competition for blacks in the United States at the time.

Speaker after speaker touched on a personal connection to the Peters family and how their talent, sprit and commitment to the neighborhood inspired them.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (Photo by: Judith Beermann) DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

Master of Ceremonies David Dunning, President of Friends of Rose Park thanked the community, distinguished speakers and guests including DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, singling out Topher Matthews for writing about the Peters sisters over a year ago, and David Abrams who has served on the Friends of Rose Park board for 15 years.

The Hon. Jeh Johnson, Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security and David Dunning (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The Hon. Jeh Johnson, Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security and David Dunning

Reverend Adam Y. Park of Epiphany Catholic Church gave the invocation, mentioning that his church was where the Peters family worshipped then and now.

Fannie Walker Weeks and James Walker, Roumania's children shared how their mom and aunt Margaret "beat the boys" and how they "would be humbled by this honor." James told proudly the story of how his mother once played on the courts with actor Gene Kelly.

Fannie Walker Weeks and James Walker (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Fannie Walker Weeks and James Walker

Mayor Bowser talked about how her mother (sitting in the audience next to Vincent Orange) grew up in Georgetown, describing the spirit and talent of the Peters sisters as "a shining example of what young people can do."

Councilmember Jack Evans, who helped spearhead the effort to rename the tennis courts, passed on his regrets that he could not attend because his triplets were starting college.

ANC Commissioner Monica Roache, fifth generation Georgetowner who played tennis at Rose Park, and was instrumental in the naming efforts said, "This is a significant place for African-Americans ... a place that transcends senseless boundaries."

Keynote speaker Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security Secretary thanked  the Mayor of East Village David Dunning, explaining how much he and his wife Susan love Rose Park. About his terrier, Johnson added, "Andy has done more to fetilize the rose bushes ... he knows how to give back."

Distinguished speakers including Fannie Walker Weeks, James Walker, Tom Birch, Monica Roache and Jeh Johnson (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Distinguished speakers including Fannie Walker Weeks, James Walker, Tom Birch, Monica Roache and Jeh Johnson

John Stokes, Deputy Director of DC Department of Parks and Recreation noted that "this was a first, the first officially named tennis court. Before there were the Venus Sisters, there were the Peters Sisters. Bravo Friends of Rose Park."

Mrs. Bowser,mother of Muriel with Vincent Orange (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Mrs. Bowser,mother of Muriel with Vincent Orange

ANC 2E Commissioner Monica Roache (Photo by: Judith Beermann) ANC 2E Commissioner Monica Roache

David Abrams (Photo by: Judith Beermann) David Abrams

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

The plaque reads:

MARGARET PETERS and ROUMANIA PETERS WALKER

ROSE PARK TENNIS COURTS

The families of the Peters Sisters, Friends of Rose Park, DC Department of Parks & Recreation, and the City of Washington, DC are proud to name the Rose Park Tennis Courts after the Peters Sisters who grew up in this neighborhood on O Street, NW. The sisters wowed the crowds wherever they went, playing their doubles tennis from the 1940s through the 1950s. Both were recruited to play tennis at Tuskegee University and continued their tennis careers on the American Tennis Association cicruit, winning 14 doubles championships over the years. Roumania Peters Walker defeated Altea Gibson in 1946 at Wilberforce, Ohio, towin her second ATA women's singles championship. Our community is proud to honor and remember the legacy of these pioneering, African-American women from our neighborhoods.

This plaque was generously donated by the Honorable Jeh Johnson and Dr. Susan DiMarco, along with their children, Jeh and Natalie.

 


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A Sentimental Journey

October 20, 2015

Bronx zebra (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx zebra

A weekend in New York City to see Picasso Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) turned into a sentimental journey to places I loved first, introduced by the person I loved most who would have turned 100 today.

Whenever I went to the Bronx Zoo I would take along one of my stuffed animals so that their cousins would see a familiar face through the bars. Today, most of the cages are gone thanks to the outdoor natural habitats designed for most of my favorite wild creatures. The petting zoo is still there, delightfully tactile as ever, only now with interactive adventures more creative than the finger licking sheep and goats I fondly recall.

Frida Kahlo self-portrait (Photo by: wikipedia.org) Frida Kahlo self-portrait

A stroller ride away is the 125-year old New York Botanical Garden where Frida Kahlo's life, art, garden and life are on display through this month. With a focus on a keen interest in the botanical world, a re-creation of her Mexican garden in the Haupt Conservatory gives visitors a first-hand glimpse of the lush influences her paintings display nearby.

Picasso Bull (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Picasso Bull

Working in ten media, from sheet metal, clay and found objects to plaster and wood, Pablo Picasso's three-dimensional art at MoMA is simply astounding. With the exception of the Musée Picasso in Antibes, a place where he lived and worked, I've never seen a show where the artist's presence is more keenly felt.

Bvlgari & Rome: Eternal Inspiration is a dazzling new collection of gemstones and ancient coins fashioned into jewelry as only Bvlgari can.

Bvlgari necklace (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bvlgari necklace

An appreciation of beauty in all things, from nature and art to fashion were gifts she gave. Though I do not possess my mother's refinement or grace, thanks to her, I know it when I see it. No designer boutiques in Soho and Tribeca when I was small, and Chelsea was all about packing meat back then, but there was Bergdorf's. A day of Manhattan shopping, which started there, ended at the stunning new Whitney Museum building by Renzo Piano between the High Line and the Hudson. 

Reminds me of seeing Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum when it first opened on October 21, 1959. All I remember was a lot of spiraling concrete staircases but my mother got it.

Bronx giraffes (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx giraffes

 

Bronx tapir (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx tapir

Bronx owl (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx owl

Bronx monkey (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx monkey

Bronx leopard (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx leopard


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Georgetown Honors Gunther Stern's Service to the Community

October 18, 2015

Host Ellen Charles and co-chair Page Evans (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Host Ellen Charles and co-chair Page Evans
Ellen MacNeille Charles opened her most elegant and exquisite Georgetown home Thursday evening to several hundred friends and neighbors. The occasion was the 2015 Spirit of Georgetown Benefit, this year honoring Gunther Stern for his 25 years of service to the Georgetown Ministry Center (GMC).

GMC co-chairs Jocelyn Dyer and Page Evans were on hand to help welcome guests to the lavish party that eventually made its way outside to the tented garden for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and remarks.

Genther Stern and Jack Evans (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Genther Stern and Jack Evans

Councilmember Jack Evans presented the "Freddie" Award to Stern for his dedication to the homeless and GMC, thanking him for dedicating his professional career to rebuilding and empowering the lives of people who are homeless by building relationships with these most service-resistant individuals in hopes of getting them off the streets.

Gunther Stern with his wife Alexis and daughter Molly (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Gunther Stern with his wife Alexis and daughter Molly

Under Stern's remarkable leadership, GMC has grown from a small outreach center to a warm and welcoming clubhouse that provides people with a sense of respect and community. Advocating for those without a voice, Stern recently spoke before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of Congress about changing laws to better serve the people who are mentally ill and homeless.

GMC's business manager Dymenn Sasser with Jocelyn Dyer (Photo by: Oliver Devine) GMC's business manager Dymenn Sasser with Jocelyn Dyer

Outerbridge Horsey, the first president of of the GMC board, who hired Gunther 25 years ago was also recognized for his service to the community.

Thanking his host and guests, Stern spoke passionately, "When we talk about homelessness, what we are really talking about is profoundly mentally disabled people who have been allowed to languish on the streets because of antiquated laws. Let's talk about how we can fix the system."

As guests applauded his service, Stern closed by saying, "Next year we should honor Georgetown for being one of the most caring communities on earth."

  

Ellen Charles (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Ellen Charles

Co-chair Jocelyn Dyer, Christian Zapatka, Amy Stroh (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Co-chair Jocelyn Dyer, Christian Zapatka, Amy Stroh

Corinna and Beau Stiles with Catherine Ballinger (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Corinna and Beau Stiles with Catherine Ballinger

Betsy Cooley and Jennifer Altemus (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Betsy Cooley and Jennifer Altemus

Jim and Leslie Lee, Dorothy Preston, Nancy and Simon Sidamon-Eristoff (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Jim and Leslie Lee, Dorothy Preston, Nancy and Simon Sidamon-Eristoff

Betsy Cooley, Dana Landry of WFP, Page Evans (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Betsy Cooley, Dana Landry of WFP, Page Evans

Kathleen Chateleine-Samsen (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Kathleen Chateleine-Samsen


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