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Zonta's Harte of the Matter

Duane Harte honored at annual Zonta Tribute Dinner

Posted: November 15, 2008 10:11 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Duane Harte and Gloria Mercado (posing as Harte's wife Pauline) at the 24th annual Zonta Celebrity Tribute dinner held at the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills.

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Guests dressed in their finest "biker" attire of leather and denim mixed with those dressed in "business" clothes to honor Santa Clarita Valley businessman and super volunteer Duante Harte. The 24th Annual Celebrity Tribute Evening was held Nov. 7 at the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills.

It was a return to the classic Zonta Tribute event and was well received by the nearly 300 guests who attended to honor Harte, a well known resident of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Among his many accomplishments Harte is the founding president of the SCV Senior Center Foundation, past chairman of the SCV Chamber of Commerce, 2003 SCV Man of the Year, past chairman of the Newhall Redevelopment Committee and past chairman of the Santa Clairta Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission.

The "biker" attire was to acknowledge Harte's love of motorcycles - a passion kindled after one of his daughters purchased a motorcycle.

Master of ceremonies, Carol Rock, offered up high praise of Harte.

"Duane is kind of a "nowhere" man. There's nowhere he hasn't helped set up, taken tickets, worked on a board, organized an auction, moved furniture, researched, written checks and generally done whatever anyone needed. That's why we're all here tonight," she said.

The tributes continued with Zonta President Christine Miller who welcomed the guests to the tribute.

"We're here to honor everyone's friend, Duane Harte," she said. "We're thrilled to be honoring him tonight."

Not all of the evening's speeches were so kind, but the "roasting" was remarkably gentle.

However, before the main event could begin auctioneer Mark Drilling worked the crowd to raise funds for the Zonta Foundation which supports the club's SCV service projects.

The Zonta Foundation provides assistance to agencies that support the Zonta mission of improving the lives of women and girls in the SCV iuncluding Foundation for Children's Dental Health, SCV Committee on Aging, Domestic Violence Center, Single Mothers' Outreach, SCV Youth Project and the SCV Boys and Girls Club.

In addition, the Foundation supports a host of other philanthropic efforts including the Virginia Wrage Memorial Fund which assists mature women making a major life change due to a life-altering crisis, Health Women's Day and the Healthy Kids Club in Val Verde for girls 7-14.

Harte said he was honored to be chosen for the event.

"The money raised by Zonta by this event goes to many wonderful projects in the SCV," Harte said.

The auction of 18 live items ranging from the head table for next year's roast to a trip to The Sancturay Resort in Costa Rica raised more than $17,000.

Chris and Jane Fall were the winning bidders for the 14-week-old Yorkie female puppy which fetched $1,100.

"We want to have puppies and then we'll donate a puppy next year," Chris Fall said.

"We have a little boy at home, named ‘Cupid.' I don't know what I'm going to name her yet. Maybe ‘Lovey,'" Jane Fall said.

Bill McClendon of Lexus of Valencia paid $2,700 for the head table at the 2009 Zonta Tribute after a spirted bidding war with Wayne Crawford.

The Sanctuary package, donated by Jacquie and Harold Petersen, Mark Poitras, DDS, Total Finacnial Solutions and The Sancturary Restort earned the evening's highest bid of $3,250.

A silent auction and "Fund a Need" donations also added to the evening's total.

Club treasurer Karen Maleck-Whiteley estimated that the annual event brought the club nearly $60,000. A net total won't be available until an accouting of all the expenses.

After the auction fun the serious work of the evening began as the "friends" of Harte took to the stage to needle and praise the guest of honor.

Harte and Gloria Mercado, who stood in for Harte's wife Pauline (who said she was uncomfortable with all the attention), sat onstage throughout the "tributes" offered by friends Randy Winter, Chris Fall and Mayor Bob Kellar. Mercado dressed for the part of Pauline Harte with a long dark wig and dark sunglasses.

A letter, purported to be from his friend Rick Winsman, who moved out of state several years ago, was also read by Carol Rock.

Harte's daughters. Donna and Denise, paid tribute to their father, with each praising both parents.

The real Pauline Harte finally spoke at the ending of evening and thanked Zonta "for honoring my husband."

The evening also included entertainment from Susan Rey who performed during the cocktail hour and Leslie Berra who performed "God Bless America" and "The Wind Beneath Your Wings."

Past Zonta honorees include The Signal, Dianne Van Hook, Jim Ventress, Michael Antonovich, Howard "Buck" McKeon, Jo Anne Darcy, Bob Kellar and Ruth and Scott Newhall.

Zonta is raising funds with its "Rent a Santa" program. For information e-mail rentasanta@scvzonta.org or call the information line, (661) 251-1352 to reserve a Santa and helpers for your gathering. The third annual Zonta Golf Touranment will be held May 18 at Robinson Ranch in Sand Canyon. For information call (661) 251-1352.

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