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Black Tie Social Announcements 1

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Black Tie International:
In Loving Memory of Roger Webster


1946 - 2011



Roger Webster

By Jason Grant


Roger was a passionate man.


Passionate about his family, his friends, acting, art, gardening and flowers, travel, writing, work, astrology, New York and his two King Charles Cavalier Spaniels: Winston and Sean.

He loved the Cathedral, it’s space, the icons and the peace.  He brought friends here during the year and especially for Pasca service:  He brought them not to convert them but to share in the joy and spiritual comfort he felt here.

The same for his trainer Eric Walters.  He wanted everyone to train with Eric because Roger thought he was the best.  His strength during his last two months was a result of his work with Eric. 

And, he thought everyone could benefit from acupuncture with Dr. Cai.

For Roger, everyone and everything was special.  He had names for every plant and flower in his home.  And, for every one of his tropical fish.

And he loved to laugh.  His laugh was infectious.

On a visit at the hospital, Father Vassilious said he blessed Roger in 2007 when Roger was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, a certain death sentence. Roger defied the rules, something he did quite often in his life.  He survived in good health.

Father said, Roger got four more years to complete his spiritual journey.

Part of his spiritual journey included Astrology.  As a teenager in Minneapolis he read about it.  Later, he studied so that he could cast charts.  He sometimes gave astrological readings to friends as a gift. 

He was the personification of Gemini, his astrological sign. Wikipedia defines it: describing an impulse towards change and versatility, and an easy ability to adapt to the demands of the environment. An easy ability to effectively interpret symbols, environment. To have a talent for writing and reporting, and to enjoy all forms of 'talk'.  Roger loved to interpret signs.


His family: He was the glue
that kept them together.

With his sister Lynn he took trips to Grand Marais, northern Minnesota and the Great Lakes region, Portugal and their last trip, this past July, was to Paris, he wanted to show off  the City he loved to the sister he loved.

When his Mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, over her 4 year fight, Roger--when not visiting her in Minneapolis-- was writing her long newsy, funny, gossipy letters.

Later, his Father was living part of the year in Ft. Myers Florida when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, Roger became a human shuttle between New York City & Florida at the same time not neglecting his work with Couri Hay at Creative PR.

Earlier this holiday weekend, his Aunt Joyce called from California and reminisced about his visit a year and a half ago. How the whole West Coast family celebrated on land and at sea.  And how they loved his infectious laugh.

 He was a magnet with his friends.

          He maintained friendships from his past as well as the present.  About two years ago, he flew home for his high school reunion.  He continued to be in touch with them through Facebook. 

          Today in the congregation a few friends who he continued to enjoy: Norman Sanders, Thomas Knapp, Laura Lee Ross, Colette, Alice Weill Judelson and Couri Hay.  Also here are Beatriz Parga who flew up from Miami this morning and Marilyn Kinnier, Roger’s high school sweetheart, who flew in from Arizona.

          Roger was proud of his friends old and new and their achievements:

          Gillian Miniter with her leadership of Central Park Conservancy

          Muffie Potter Aston kept him in awe at the way she did so much for Memorial Sloan Kettering, American Cancer Society, her daughters Ashleigh and Bracie and her husband Sherrell…and was never tired. 

          He looked up to Cynthia Lufkin and wanted to set examples like she did in her battle with breast cancer

          Sharon Bush whose Feed Bears help starving children around the world, the righting of an injustice, a cause dear to his heart.

          Anna Safir for her work at the UN on drug trafficking 

          Jean Shafiroff and her successful fund raising efforts for South Hampton Hospital

          Barbara McLaughlin, another Minnesota native, who Roger met when she was a director of the Society of MSKCC and then at the Fund for Park Avenue,

          As an animal lover, Lisa McCarthy won Roger’s devotion for her flying her plane on animal rescue missions.

          These are women who worked hard to make a difference in New York and in the quality of life.  They continue to do it with determination, energy and success, although they don’t have to.

          Last year, Roger wrote an editorial for Social Affairs magazine-- He was the New York editor. --about the many challenges of the work of the women who chair events in New York.

          He admired Michèle Gerber Klein for her dedication to art-The Whitney Museum, the New Museum, the Bronx Museum, her travel and fashion writings.  And a passion they shared with Couri Hay for the dress designer Charles James.

          Couri Hay was not only his pr mentor, the two men shared a forty-year friendship, traveling together, working together, meeting the Who’s Who of the later part of the 20th Century.

          Art expert Tom Knapp could make Roger laugh,  They are both Gemini and they remained close, Tom lavishing, nurturing Roger during final days

              Michel Witmer combined the wisdom and sophistication that gave the art world its glamour. But Michel was also the strong core.  His leadership role in TEFAF, a non-profit art fair, in Maastricht that donated money to cancer research.

         With David Patrick Columbia Roger shared an interest in astrology, similar views of the world condition. At heart, DPC was Roger’s hero for his website New York Social Diary, the New York town crier, that celebrated present and past about the City he loved.


          In writing about Roger, David said, “Everywhere he went he met interesting people, and they’d meet a man who liked them for who they were. That was part of what was interesting about Roger. That’s quite a talent in breakneck city life, and rarely achieved honestly.”

          No slouch as a photographer, Roger admired Jeff Hirsch’s journalistic as well as artistic photos.  Jeff’s art photos, which were sold at the Chinese Porcelain Company captured New York in a way that highlighted for Roger both the isolation of the City and its stark beauty. 

          He loved Annie Watt’s photos because she made everyone look great.  And Patrick McMullan did in photographs for New York life what DPC did in words.

          Keri Ingvarsson is a relatively new friend.  She is founder of The King Collective.  She wrote in her blog, “Roger spoke with true conviction and illuminated a deep passion for Manhattan life.”

          She went on to write, “Roger told me once that it is okay not to be perfect; that what matters most in work and life is to continue to be intrigued, even if not fulfilled.”

          He also admired Julie Sharbutt, an actress whose career he has followed beginning with her days at NYU graduate school.

          Roger also took an interest in the younger generations, children of his friends: in Serena and Quint Miniter who are here today, Ashleigh and Bracie Aston and Stella Stephanopoulos.  More about the Stephanoupoulos family later.

Roger loved to act, to sing and to dance.

          It’s why he moved to NY and why he lived for a while in LA.

          He had a major success last June in the showcase “Face it” in which he sang and danced.

          He didn’t lose an opportunity to celebrate the talents of everyone in the class and to show his support.

          A few years back, he sang at Don’t Tell Mama. He loved the music of the Great American Song Book, as well as the opera, ballet, the symphony and… club music.  Roger loved to dance.  Studio 54 was his one-time Temple.  That was replaced by the parties at Doubles.

          Spend any time with Roger and you knew he loved Marilyn Monroe.  He read everything about her and was already ready to discuss the relative merits of her biographers. He even painted her.

          With his love of acting came his comprehensive knowledge of Hollywood films.  There are photographs of the film greats of the 20th century on the walls of his apartment 


Roger loved art.

          He really wanted everything to be beautiful.

          He loved to paint, several of you have his paintings on thank you notes and birthday. He was also a wonderful photographer whose pictures appeared in New York Social Diary. In fact he broke the Diary record with 96 photos of the March 2011 TEFAF story

          He loved museums, and supported the Metropolitan, the Modern and the Ruben

          He loved the art, and the art of his friends:

                   Colette, for being an original imitated by women like Madonna and Lady Gaga.  He wanted her to write a book with photos.

                   There are also the paintings of Laura Lee Ross and, Rosalyn Engelman. Kelvin Nugroho, whom Roger partnered with in a jewelry company Clever Vercosa who transformed Roger’s livingroom into his dream come true, and, the Haughtons and their art fairs at the Armory for bringing some of the best to NY.


Gardening and Flowers

          It seems Roger always had a green thumb. 

          Growing up, he lived on a street lined with elm trees except for one maple tree in their front lawn.

          It was nearly destroyed by a storm.

          Roger saved the tree.  50 years later it’s alive and majestic

      At one time, he had a company with several employees serving homes out of the City as well as penthouse gardens.

          In his home, he had a garden inside and outside of every window.  And, every flower, every plant had a first name.

          When traveling, Roger was always photographing gardens and flowers



          In addition to trips with his sister…

          With his friend Marilyn Lester he went to Prague and  CONTACT _Con-384A447A20B \c \s \l Brazil.


 Many trips with Couri.

                 Perhaps the most affecting trip was after the diagnosis of stage 4 prostate cancer.  His PSA on the day he started treatment was 1500.  Normal is 1-4.  He thought he wasn’t going to live.

          George and Elena Stephanopoulos invited Roger to join them and their daughter Stella on a trip to Greece, which eventually included Mt. Athos and the acetic life, the Island of Paros for spiritual exploration, then Jordan and Israel. 

          When he returned to NYC for his next treatment, his PSA was zero and remained at zero until he died.

          Roger also took trips to Istanbul, a story with photos appeared in New York Social Diary, Marrakech –David and Jeff you’re going to get his final story and photos,

Amsterdam for the opening of the Hermitage,

Paris – Fete de la Musique,

Barcelona, Toulouse,

He went to the West Coast for the book party celebrating Venturing in Italy, the travel book that included two of his stories. 



          Roger contributed columns and articles to Social Affairs, 15minutesmagazine, Hamptons.com, aforesaid New York Social Diary and a poem in Anton Perich’s magazine Night.



          Roger had a strong work ethic and tremendous obligation to his clients.  After he formed his company, he picked his clients by looking for people he wanted to work with and whose achievements he admired. 

Among his clients:

          He loved Swifty’s not just because of Robert, Stephen, Blaine and Pat, but also because the food was delicious and reminded him of a refined New York version of his Midwest roots.

          Doubles stood for everything he thought New York was and should be.  He wanted the world to know about the club and Wendy Carduner who runs it maintaining the highest standards of service and discreet attention.

          American Cancer Society was a cause dear to his heart because of his parents and his own battle. 

          Last August, he was determined to attend all the events for the Inaugural Hamptons event Festive in Flip Flops, which included festivities the weekend before. In a generous show of community spirit, there were parties at Mackenzie-Childs in Southampton, Christopher Fischer in East Hampton and Gail Schoentag Gallery in Sag Harbor.  The following weekend, in Bridgehampton a joyous Festive in Flip Flops, his last public appearance, where he spent the night seated at the check-in desk.

          Both Central Park Conservancy and Fund for Park Avenue were causes dear to his heart.  Partially because they both dealt with gardening but they were also hallmarks of the City he loved. 

          Roger lived on Central Park.  Every weekend possible, he’d go into the Park to his rock, read, sunbath and chat on his cell phone. Whether it was The Hat Luncheon, Taste of Summer, Playground Partners, he felt that helping the Conservancy helped the City for everyone.

       The same held true for Fund For Park Avenue.  It was important because it represented NY to the world, with it’s gracious boulevard and the flowering islands in the middle.  And because his father had been a POW in WWII, the Memorial Trees lighting around Christmas had special meaning.

          There are two funds established in Roger’s name, one at the Central Park Conservancy and one at the Fund for Park Avenue. The money raised will be used to buy a bench in the Park and a tree or two on the Park Avenue Islands.

          Scully& Scully represented the finest of what NY is and should be. Trends come and go, Roger said. “But, Scully like the Rock of Gibraltar, is always here.”

          French Heritage Socity combined Roger’s many passions, art, gardens, glamour and a wonderful team lead by Elizabeth Stribling, CeCe Black, Margo Langenberg, Mitzi Perdue and Jean Shafiroff.  Theywork to rehabilitate French Patrimony in France and the US.


          Roger believed in it.  Even before he came to NY.  He studied it, followed it.  He was a Gemini and true to his sign

          Tarot cards, he had been studying for the last two years.

New York

          Was Roger’s home, his spiritual base.  It was probably his home long before he ever arrived. He was naturally smart, elegant, kind and generous.  He loved both the hustle and bustle of the City and it’s polished sophistication.

          If I forgot to credit or mention someone, chalk it up to mourner’s grief.  For those who want to know, how he died, Roger planned his funeral.  He said he wasn’t afraid of dying, but he wasn’t ready to die.  Early morning on October third, he was breathing gently, in, out, in, out.  And then, it stopped

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