The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

April 29, 2012

Successful soirees: Friends of St. Avips to hold 50th ball

JOPLIN, Mo. — Maridan Kassab doesn’t need the scrapbook from the first St. Avips Ball to recall exactly what she wore that night, what the decor looked like and where it was held. Her memories are as fresh as if it were yesterday.

“I wore a blue silk top with a peplum,” she said. “We all had corsages, of course, and long white gloves.”

Her memories are impressive because the city’s most stylish annual fundraiser, a benefit for the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, is celebrating 50 years this spring. But the grand affairs have made such an impression on those who attended, they’re not soon forgotten.

Kassab, an original member of the Friends of St. Avips, said the ball was begun in response to the opening of the Ozark Artist Guild in the Zelleken House at Fourth and Sergeant streets. It had been purchased through the generosity of Spiva, a philanthropist, but money was needed for the day-to-day operation.

“They had just formed, and they were begging for money,” Kassab said.

As Kassab tells it, her husband, Anthony, was reading a Civil War book at the time and became enamored with the history of the St. Cecilia Society in Charleston, S.C. The society, formed in 1766, was named for the patron saint of music and for 54 years its annual concert series formed what historians have called one of the most sophisticated musical phenomena in the nation.

Anthony Kassab thought a ball would be fun.

“It sounds funny coming from a guy, but you gotta remember, he had a dress shop,” she said, laughing.

A committee of women met in early 1963 to formulate plans for such an event, and it was suggested that they spell Spiva backward.

In just weeks, that first ball took shape and came together on Tuesday, April 16, as a grand affair in the Empire Room and Joplin Club of the Connor Hotel.

“The nationally famous Russ Carlyle and his orchestra performed,” Kassab said. “But we had to hold the ball on a Tuesday to accommodate the band’s schedule.”

Tickets were $10 per person, by invitation only, with 220 people in attendance. The ball didn’t begin until 9 p.m., with a buffet served at 11 p.m.

George and Agnes Spiva were dressed spectacularly and led the grand entrance.

“Everyone marched around. It was fun,” said Kassab, who was 28 years old at the time.

The elegant event netted a $1,037 check in support of the arts.

“And the rest is history,” noted the Spivas’ daughter, Joy Spiva Cragin, with a laugh.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • 041814 EPA projects5_72.jpg Contaminated mine tailings could be used on west bypass

    About 500 acres of former mining land at Wildwood Ranch have been reclaimed by contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than 1 million cubic yards of contaminated mine tailings in the form of chat and waste rock have been consolidated in a surface repository that someday could be part of the roadbed for a limited-access highway that transportation planners hope to build on the west side of Joplin.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Joplin City Council to hear baseball plan details

    Proposed redevelopment plans for Joe Becker Stadium will be discussed with the Joplin City Council in a work session at the end of its regular meeting tonight. The WLD Suarez partnership has obtained a franchise of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball that succeeds the El Paso (Texas) Diablos.

    April 20, 2014

  • Money to area lawmakers slows down but doesn’t stop

    With the Legislature back in session, the flow of campaign cash to local candidates has slowed. But in this election year, the money did not completely stop. All members of the local delegation to the Missouri General Assembly are on the ballot this year, but only two lawmakers are facing opposition.

    April 20, 2014

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Enrollment open for Joplin summer school

    Enrollment is now open for the Joplin school district’s summer school session, which will run Wednesday, June 4, though Tuesday, July 1.

    April 19, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014


The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, following Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine. Do you think we should deploy these troops?

     View Results
NDN Video
Raw: Fire Engulfs Tower Block in China Ocean Drones Making Waves in Research World Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier Raw: Ferry Captain Received Medical Treatment Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Transcript Reveals Confusion in Ferry Evacuation Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria