WNC’s 5th Annual Gridiron Dinner “toasts” Jim Ellis and John Ellis

The Washington News Council “toasted” Jim Ellis and John Ellis at our 5th Annual Gridiron West Dinner on Friday, Nov. 7, 2003, in the Skybridge at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Nearly 400 people attended the gala event to honor the Ellis brothers, who have been civic leaders in the Puget Sound region for decades.

The event was a fun-filled evening of comedy, song parodies and affectionate toasts. This year’s “toasters” were (for Jim) Charley Bingham, Slade Gorton, Ken Hatch, Sally Jewell, Gerry Johnson, and Phyllis Lamphere and (for John) Doug Beighle, Phyllis Campbell, Don Covey, Howard Lincoln, Bob Myers and Patti Payne.

In response to their “toasters,” Jim and John and Patti Payne teamed up for a surprise musical song-and-dance routine. The audience was delighted by seeing Jim and Patti singing and dancing, accompanied by John on the piano. The evening also featured comedy by Master of Ceremonies Mike Egan, and Frank Sinatra song parodies sung by David Koch and David Scully of Cabaret Productions, with Scott Warrender on the piano. A video tribute done by Larry Cali and Ken Jones was another highlight.

News Council Chairman Bob Utter and Past President Eddie Reed welcomed the crowd. WNC Treasurer Carver Gayton and Executive Director John Hamer thanked table sponsors. For the fifth year in a row, members of the Washington News Council took the stage to sing a song: “High Hopes.”

Guests were encouraged to fill out membership envelopes and two were drawn at the end of the evening for prizes: 1) lunch for 10 with Jim Ellis at the Convention Center and 2) dinner for 4 with John Ellis in the owner’s suite at Safeco Field during a Mariners’ game next season. The two prizes were won by Bob Carlile of KPMG and Jim Warjone of Port Blakely Tree Farms. The winning envelopes were drawn by Kerri and Daniel Ellis, John’s grandchildren.

Table sponsors at the “Visionaries” ($5,000) level were: Boeing, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, King County Journal, Seattle Mariners, and PEMCO. Tables sponsors at the “Movers” ($2,500) level were: The Gallatin Group, Premera Blue Cross, Preston Gates & Ellis, Puget Sound Energy, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, Washington State Convention & Trade Center, and Weyerhaeuser. Table sponsors at the “Shakers” ($1,000) level were Dr. Richard Baxter, The Benaroya Company, Carolyn Duncan, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Fremont Dock Company, Gorton Legacy Group, Merriman Capital Management, Barry Mitzman, Mountains-to-Sound Greenway, Chuck Nordhoff, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Patti Payne, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Wes Uhlman & Associates, Robert Utter, William Van Valkenberg, and the Washington Farm Bureau.

Chateau Ste. Michelle provided wines and Creative Ice Sculptures did the spectacular centerpieces, which featured a Seattle Mariners baseball and an evergreen branch inside each ice globe. One lucky person at each table won the ice globe and got to take it home.

The King County Journal provided reprints of a front-page article on the Ellis brothers that ran on Sunday, Nov. 2. David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did the drawing that appeared on the invitations and the programs, and presented framed copies to Jim and John at the end of the evening.

Jim Ellis is founding partner of Preston Gates and Ellis, founder of Metro and the Lake Washington clean-up campaign, father of the Forward Thrust public-works program, chairman of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, and past president of the state Convention and Trade Center. He is also a Founding Board member of the Washington News Council.

John Ellis is chairman emeritus and a member of the board of directors of the Seattle Mariners, former top executive of what is now Puget Sound Energy, a partner in the Seattle-based law firm of Perkins Coie, and has served on the boards of numerous community organizations, including Seattle University.

The Honorary Advisory Committee for the event included: Doug Beighle, Phyllis Campbell, Don Covey, Dan Evans, Bob Flennaugh, Bill Gates Sr., Slade Gorton, Peter Horvitz, Sally Jewell, Phyllis Lamphere, Howard Lincoln, Bob Myers, Patti Payne, Norm Rice, Charles Royer, Bill Ruckelshaus, Frank Shrontz, and John Spellman.

Videotapes of the event are available. Call our office for details.

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