Last Thursday evening friends and colleagues gathered at the Saratoga City Center to celebrate the retirement of Terry Lee, the Executive Director of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation who is retiring after 24 years. The evening was styled as a playful “Roast and Toast” and guest knew there would be some good hearted joking going on to celebrate the hard work of one of our community’s most dedicated citizens.
Guests included Michael and Linda Toohey, Charles and Candace Wait, Jeff and Heath Ames, the previous CEO of Saratoga Hospital David Andersen, Joe and Gloria Dalton, Dr. Desmond & Betsy DelGiacco, Jim & Agnes Gavin, Michael & Martha Iacolucci, Mike & Marlene Okby, Susan and Jeffrey Halstead, Barry and Cindy Potoker, and Andy and Kathleen Fyfe.
Saratoga Hospital CEO and President Angelo Calbone took to the stage to kick off the roast while Terry sat next to him on stage looking radiant as always.
“Terry’s Style rubbed off on people: bold, confident, demanding, won’t take no for an answer. I even started asking strangers on Broadway to give me money,” he joked as guests roared with laughter. “Seriously, I think I speak for everyone, particularly at the hospital, it has been an honor to work with you,” Angelo said as he finished his piece. “I have never worked with anyone in your business that has been as supportive, inspirational, and helpful in my entire career. The success of Saratoga Hospital has to a great extent been in your hands, and you’ve made me a better CEO, and I frankly just can’t find the right words to say thank you.”
Ellen Kerness, a colleague and also a good personal friend of Terry’s took the stage next, saying jokingly “Terry, as you can see there are a number of people who want to wish you well, and some who quite frankly want to get some things off their chest”. Messages from friends who couldn’t be there included Judy LeCain who sent well wishes from Paris, and some playful messages from Mark Harmon from NCIS, telling Terry she simply had to come out for an audition and to make sure she didn’t forget her “pink leather booties”, and one from Phil Mickelson, expressing his excitement about having Terry consult on his women’s golf clothing line.
Ellen then read a letter from the White House, assuring guests “this was not a joke”, in which President Obama said “I am pleased to join your family, friends, and colleagues in congratulating you on your retirement. Healthcare professionals enjoy the unique reward of knowing their efforts help improve, extend and even save the lives of patients in need. Their work touches countless lives, and I hope you look back on your contributions and accomplishments with joy and pride.”
Next up everyone’s attention was directed to the big screen as a special video started rolling. First up we saw the iconic Marilyn Monroe photo with the white dress billowing around her waist, and once guests realized Terry’s face was superimposed onto Marilyn’s body everyone knew they were in for a real treat.
Judy LeCain and Linda Toohey appeared on the screen, sitting next to each other both holding cards while Linda asked the first of a series of “Terry Lee Trivia” questions as the Jeopardy theme song played in the background. This got many laughs as they asked questions with deadpan expressions on their faces like “How many hair colors has Terry had in the past 24 years” and “How many pairs of shoes has she worn?” Answer: 912, apparently.
Next up Terry’s husband, Dave Povero, got perhaps the biggest laugh of the night. He took guests on a little tour of the closets at their home. He showed everyone how Terry, a notorious clotheshorse known for her signature flashy style, packs each of their closets with her own clothing and shoes, to much laughter from the audience. At the end of his tour he looked at the camera and said, “You’re probably wondering where I keep all of my clothes, then. Well, I have to wear them!” he said, as he started unbuttoning his shirt to reveal another shirt underneath, and then another, and another, then doing the same routine with his pants. The crowd was nearly in tears they were laughing so hard at this point. He finished off his piece with a joke about how despondent the UPS delivery guy was going to be with Terry ordering less shoes now that she’s retiring. “There’s nothing more sad than seeing a guy wearing brown crying over a Zappos box”. To much applause Dave took to his feet for a second and gave a happy little wave as everyone cheered his pitch perfect retirement send off for his wife.
Next in the video tribute we saw Charles V. Wait from Adirondack Trust sitting in his office. He wished Terry well on her retirement, and then told how he was going to give a chronicle of his experiences with the feisty fundraiser as John Mellancamp’s “Hurt So Good” began playing in the background. A series of snapshots flashed on the big screen from “previous years”, showing him first with a black eye, then with a bandaged head, a broken arm, a neck brace (that one really got the crowd in stitches) and finally hobbling out of his office at the present day with a cane, bent over in pain. As he limped out he joked “Terry I’m so glad you’re retiring”. It was a hilarious ode to Terry’s never give up attitude in finding the vital funds needed to keep our community’s hospital going.
As friends and colleagues appeared on screen to wish Terry well, it became clear to even an outside observer that this woman is a much beloved, and well respected member of our community. It wasn’t hard to imagine that the video could have gone on for hours if they had included everyone who wanted to wish Terry well, and wanted to commend her on her hard work and dedication. The amount of guests who came out to show their thanks that evening was also a testament to the impact she has made on our community.
Terry appeared next as Wonder Woman before Stephan von Schenk, executive vice president at Adirondack Trust Company came on to tell guests that Terry would be getting the largest wing at the National Museum of Shoes. Before the video was up Terry would appear on screen as Mona Lisa, Lucille Ball (“We Love Terry”) and Queen Elizabeth, each getting more laughs than the last.
The “Ga Ga Gala Girls” appeared next, and Julie Bonacio, Colleen Carlson and Mara King relived some of Terry’s finest moments running the always incredibly successful Annual Benefit Auctions for Saratoga Hospital, congratulating her in raising an astounding 6.2 million dollars in gala monies over the years.
The crowd was just thrilled with the hilarious video, and Terry herself was still laughing as she took to the stage to thank everyone for attending. She remarked on what a special community Saratoga Springs is, and expressed how thankful she was that they let an “outsider” (she’s from Chicago) into the fold. Terry graciously accepted all of the well wishes and kudos, and insisted that she could not have been as successful without having such a great team at Saratoga Hospital, a team dedicated to giving them best care possible for the community. As she finished her speech, everyone was on their feet in a rousing standing ovation, so very well deserved.