Now, on to an interesting story based on a blog posted in our nation's capital by an Illinois woman who is the Chief of Protocol at the U. S. State Department. It concerns a Holiday Tea recently held at Blair House, the President's guesthouse. Members of the Diplomatic Corps, who come from around the world, were invited. Ninety of them, with their families, attended. According to the blog, the manager, assistant manager and their accomplished staff had decorated Blair House lavishly with flowers, candles, ribbons and assorted holiday decorations. The chef had made all sorts of tea and holiday treats. The woman who posted the blog had taken her young son with her to the event. To their delight, they were able to take pictures standing by a rare Lincoln portrait, a particular thrill for folks from Illinois. Then, sitting in the Garden Room, leisurely partaking of the goodies with visitors from around the world, was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. She stated that the Blair House manager's name is Randy Bumgardner and the assistant manager's is Ann Dorr, a name familiar to many here in Cherokee County.
Ann has been serving in this fascinating post for some time now. The first world-famous guest she helped entertain was German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The visit of a Pakistani leader and his entourage soon after that was not quite so pleasant an experience. When an eccentric Italian head of state arrived Dorr's services as tutor, as well as hostess, were utilized -- a story only she can tell most effectively.
Earlier this year, Ann was deeply involved when the Ford family, as well as members of former presidential families, all gathered at Blair House for the state funeral of Gerald Ford. During that time, a memorable incident took place when the phone rang just as she entered a room where Mrs. Ford was resting. As approved by protocol, she answered the phone and a small sweet voice said, "This is Nancy Reagan. May I speak with Betty Ford?"
Manager Bumgardner was out of town when the British Monarch arrived a short while later, so it was Assistant Manager Ann who officially greeted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip when they arrived at Blair House. Dorr reports that Her Royal Highness was very gracious and congenial all the while she was there.
It is my contention that the wife of Undersecretary of Agriculture for Rural Development Thomas Dorr holds a position perhaps even more intriguing than that of her husband. I am convinced that both of them could "write a book," as the saying goes, when these busy days are past and they find a bit of time to pursue such matters.