A HISTORY OF THE AUSTRIAN AMERICAN

CULTURAL SOCIETY OF PITTSBURGH

 

Our thanks to Joseph Pandl who documented this

History of the Austrian American Cultural Society

from its inception through the year 2004.

 

            Timeline

 

1950-1952       An Idea is Born

1978                Dr. Ivo Fischer - Why No Austrian Room? 

1979                An Austrian Concert

~~~ The Society is Formed

1980                The Inaugural Meeting of the Society

1981-1984       The Early Years

1985                First Annual Christmas Open House

1986                First Viennese Ball in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Shannopin Country Club)

1987                Second Viennese Ball (Ballroom of the Westin William Penn Hotel)

                        ~~~ Incorporation

~~~ Invitation to establish an Austrian Nationality Classroom

                        ~~~ The Formation and Growth of the Society

1988                Third Austrian Ball

~~~ Initial Design of Nationality Classroom

1989                Fourth Austrian Ball

1990                Fifth Austrian Ball

~~~ "Vienna in Concert" Exhibit

~~~ The Austrian Room Project Begins

1991                Sixth Austrian Ball

1992                Seventh Austrian Ball

~~~ "PBS Kitchen Show" on WQEX

1993                Eighth Austrian Ball

~~~ An Anonymous Donation to Austrian Room Fund

1994                Ninth Austrian Ball

~~~ Plans for Austrian Room Ceiling Murals (recreations from Haydnsaal)

1995                Tenth Austrian Ball

~~~ Fall Music Programs

1996                Eleventh (Millennium Year) Austrian Ball

~~~ First Society Picnic

                        ~~~ Austrian Room is Dedicated

1997                Twelfth Austrian Ball

~~~ Honorary Austrian Consul is Appointed

                        ~~~ Scholarship Endowment Fund is Created

~~~ First Annual Student Scholarship is Bestowed

1998                Thirteenth Austrian Ball

~~~ Revision of By-laws

1999                Fourteenth Austrian Ball (Greentree Marriott)

~~~ Two Student Scholarships Awarded

2000                Fifteenth Austrian Ball (Sheraton Hotel, Station Square)

2001                Sixteenth Austrian Ball (Sheraton Hotel, Station Square)

2002                Seventeenth Austrian Ball (Grand Foyer, Carnegie Music Hall)

~~~ First Debutante Ball

2003                Eighteenth Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory)

2004                Nineteenth Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory) - Silver Anniversary

                        ~~~ Creation of AACS Internet Web Site

~~~ First AACS-sponsored Program on WQED FM

2005                Twentieth Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory)

2006                Twenty-first Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory)

==============================================

 

1950-1952  An Idea is Born

 

The earliest known interest in creating an Austrian Nationality Classroom at the University of Pittsburgh was expressed by Walter Sobotka, a Pitt Professor, who practiced architecture in Austria. In 1950 he met with Austrian President Karl Renner to enlist government support, but the proposal never moved forward. The Society has been told that Professor Sobotka’s 1952 Christmas card had a sketch depicting a Baroque room with ceiling murals, a crystal chandelier and a ceramic Kachelofen (room heater).

 

 

1978  Dr. Ivo Fischer - Why No Austrian Room?

 

Approximately 27 years later, Professor and Dr. Ivo Fischer was working at the University and Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. He admired the then-existing Nationality Classrooms and wondered why Austria was not among them.

 

 

1979  An Austrian Concert – The Society is Formed

 

In April of 1979 an Austrian musical group, Konzastante Schrammel Quartet, was touring the U.S. and contacted the University for an Austrian sponsor for the event. At that time no such organized group existed and Dr. Fischer was contacted. Through his professional work in his home city, Bregenz, Austria, he was acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Rainer Jezek, a couple now living in Pittsburgh, and asked if they could interest some Austrian friends to present the concert. They rented Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland and attracted a small enthusiastic audience who thoroughly enjoyed the music that was typical of Austrian Culture. Financially they made a profit of only $28.15; however, the event sparked the interest of the Pittsburgh Austrian Community. Some of the attendees (Betty and John McDermott, Agnes Gerger, Mr. and Mrs. Rainer Jezek, Dolores and Frank Stehr, Anthony Bouvier, and a woman known only as Ramona), agreed to meet several weeks later at the Teutonia Maennerchor Club (a Germanic Social Club in Pittsburgh). Organizational discussions of bylaws, dues, and an election of officers took place, resulting in Rainer Jezek, President (1979-1983); Dolores Stehr, Treasurer; and Betty McDermott, Recording Secretary. This meeting was the birth of the Austrian American Cultural Society in Pittsburgh.

 

 

1980  The Inaugural Meeting of the Society

 

On May 25, 1980 the founding members assembled approximately 150 first and second generation Austrians in the Stephen Foster Memorial Hall at Pitt to inform them of the new society and the concept of an Austrian Nationality Class Room. Before the afternoon was over, 35 families paid dues and became members. Prior to his return to Bregenz, Austria, Dr. Fischer selected room #326 CL, accommodating 25 to 35 students, to become the Austrian Room. He also opened a building fund account with his $100.00 donation.

 

 

1981-1984  The Early Years

 

The society began sponsoring various fund-raising events at Pitt facilities, the Teutonia Club, and other locations. In 1982 the society sponsored a choral concert at the David L. Lawrence Hall on the Oakland campus for a singing group from Andorf, Austria. Society members housed the singers. The annual Austrian Christmas Party at the Teutonia included children and grandchildren, Gluehwein, tea sandwiches, Christmas cookies, a gospel reading in both English and Austrian, and Stille Nacht and other carols sung by candlelight. The highlight of the evening was the appearance of St. Nicolaus (John McDermott) giving candy goodies to the children, followed by a fierce Krampus (portrayed by various members) carrying a large stick and a piece of coal as he grunts and rattles his chains.

 

 

1985  First Annual Christmas Open House

 

The selling of coffee, non-alcoholic punch and famous Austrian pastries created by first-class Austrian-trained Baker and member, George Mandl, and other society members took place at the first annual Christmas Open House (1985) in the Commons Room of the University of Pittsburgh. Each year, prior to the completion of our room, the marketing of our tasty confections improved and evolved into a typical outdoor Viennese Coffee House Café complete with a flowered white fence, lighted street lampposts, tables, chairs and strolling musicians and singers of authentic Austrian Folk Songs. This outdoor Café theme was excellently constructed and carried out by members Paul and Marge Pfingstl and Dolores and Franz Stehr.  Several concerts and events arranged by members and Professional Pianist Sylvia Hayes included raffles of Ski merchandise donated by Willi’s Ski Shop, and in February of 1985 Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky was entertained at Pitt and informed of our Austrian Room undertaking.

 

 

1986  First Viennese Ball in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Shannopin Country Club)

 

Upon return from an Austrian Ball in the eastern Pennsylvania area of Pottstown, members Betty and John McDermott, and Betty’s Austrian born mother Agnes Gerger, it was Betty who suggested that the fledgling society should consider having a Viennese type Austrian Ball. The officers and members accepted her suggestion, thus the First Austrian Ball in Pittsburgh was held on May 8, 1986 at the Shannopin Country Club with 131 attendees. Betty was named Chairman and because of her exceptional ideas and ability this resulted in her chairing eleven successive Balls (1986-1996). In the fall of 1986, President Ed Kepes (1984-1988), appointed Joe Pandl as the General Chairman of the Austrian Room Committee. At that time the Austrian Room Fund had a total of $8,000. Chairman Pandl selected for his Co-Chair, long time Treasurer Dolores Stehr and an open-ended committee consisting of certain society members and the eleven members of the Board of Directors as elected each year.

 

 

1987  Second Viennese Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

          Incorporation

Invitation to establish an Austrian Nationality Classroom

          The Formation and Growth of the Society

 

Ball Chairman Betty McDermott and her Committee decided that the 1987 Ball should be moved to the larger, more Austrian, main Ballroom of the Westin William Penn Hotel. It is noteworthy that the hallmark of the balls organized by Betty and her committee is evident in the escorts taking attendees to there tables, a Viennese type Grand March, a cocktail and dinner hour string ensemble, a dance orchestra, a waltz contest, a Gourmet menu, desirable table favors (many created by Agnes Gerger), distinctive door and raffle prizes (donated by members or solicited by Julius and Peggy Wailand), exquisite stage and table floral arrangements created by Franz and Dolores Stehr and Paul and Marge Pfingstl (in later years these were selected and ordered from florists by Bernadette Miller and Claire Pandl), and finally, Austrian informative books and brochures obtained by Joe Pandl from the Austrian Tourist Office and made available in the decorated entrance foyer. His Excellency Ambassador Friedrich Hoess and his wife were honored guests at the1987 ball that had over 350 attendees. Freelance Artist Pamela Remele Ambrass provided the first preliminary concept of the proposed Austrian Nationality Room.

 

Also, in 1987, President Kepes and the Board of Directors completed the process of incorporating the Austrian American Cultural Society and received approval from the IRS as a charitable organization. The society began interacting with other ethnic groups and events in the community and Chancellor Wesley W. Posvar of the University of Pittsburgh issued a formal invitation for the Society to build an Austrian Nationality Classroom. This same year the Society presented the University of Pittsburgh a $5000 Deed of Trust essential to formalize and reserve room 326CL for that purpose.

 

Monthly membership meetings were held in various locations such as the Teutonia Club, various restaurants and bars thru the efforts of Paul, Marge and Isabelle Pfingstl, and at the University of Pittsburgh. At one such meeting Chairman Pandl presented his overall plans to the Officers and Members as follows:

 

1)      Establish an appropriate and member acceptable Architectural style:

To achieve this Chairman Pandl researched and assembled a large number of color photo slides of various styles of Austrian Architecture, including the more modernistic “Jugenstill” style, which at that time was favored by a small element of the society. These slide presentations took place at several consecutive meetings with informative comments, discussions and questions and answers, and eventually it was possible for a membership vote to be taken. The decision was that the room should be a Baroque composite of the Haydnsaal in the Schloss Esterhazy and the Imperial Dining Room in the Hofburg Palace.

  

2)      Locate and enlist the services of a Design Architect:

Board member Henry Pahl developed and mailed very detailed informational brochures to Architects and their professional organizations in the U.S. and Austria. Soon after we received an inquiry from respected Viennese Architect Dipl. Ing. Franz Gerhard Schnoegass.  After review of his dossier and discussions with University Representatives, he was selected as our Design Architect. We were doubly fortunate to have his wife Elfrieda (Elfie), a Historian and Teacher, to volunteer her services to verify the historical requirements of Pitt’s Nationality Room Office.

 

3)      Design Architect to develop initial renditions of the Austrian Room and an estimated cost for completion of our room.

 

4)  Create a more positive image for the General Public and potential donors of Austria as the

      “Land of Music” and Austrian Culture:

 

Chairman Pandl researched over 300 Composers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and based upon this data, he requested and received approval from the Membership and the Board of Directors to revise the Society’s stationery to incorporate the names of thirty-nine representative composers along the left and right borders including their dates and home Provinces.     

a)      This data was also incorporated in fund-raising brochures and letters.

b)      Additionally, with the help of the Membership, a framed easel-size identity board showing the names and colorful coats of arms of the nine existing provinces was created for display at the entrance of the Society’s sponsored events.  

 

     5)  Fund Raising:

a)      Members and Individuals ($5.00 to $1000.00)

b)      Austrian Balls and other social events (Ball profit / Contributions / Raffles)

c)      Corporations, Companies, Foundations, Matching Funds and Individuals ($100.00  to $25,000.00)

 

     6)  Services of an Architect of Record

                 Recommended by Dolores and Franz Stehr, the services of Viennese-born

     Gunther Kaier were volunteered.

 

     7)  Develop Construction Blue Prints and necessary detailed data:

Design Architect Gerhard Schnoegass and Architect of Record Gunther Kaier and   University of Pittsburgh Architects.

 

     8)  General Contractor

Gunther Kaier, Maxine Bruhns (Nationality Rooms Program Director) and other University representatives

    

     9)  Dedication Events

 

 

1988  Third Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

      Initial Design of Nationality Classroom

 

Hi  s Excellency Austrian Ambassador Friedrich Hoess and Clair Hoess were honored guests at the Third Annual Austrian Ball in 1988.  Entertainment was provided by the North Hills Dance Studio featuring Frank and Marie Bulik, Linda McKees and Jim Page.  Also in this year Frau Magister Katharina Zablatnik accompanied the Austro-Slovenian singing group, the Octet Suha from Klagenfurt, Carthinia, to perform for our Society.  Frau Zablatnik also brought a number of excellent Austrian books donated by various government officials.

 

On July 31, 1988 Design Architect Schnoegass made a two-day visit to Pittsburgh and he presented his initial rendition of our proposed room to be completed at an estimated cost of $250,000. During this visit he inspected the Nationality Classrooms and room 326 CL previously reserved for our room. After viewing other available rooms, he selected room 314 CL as best suited for our Austrian Nationality Classroom.

 

 

1989  Fourth Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

 

Michael Baronyak was the Society President in 1989. That year the honored guests for the Fourth Annual Austrian Ball were Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh William J. Winter, Design Architect Schnoegass and Teacher and Historian Elfrieda Schnoegass from Vienna. Sopranos Christiane Majeski and Mitzi Wolfrum, accompanied by Pianist Sylvia Sconza Hayes, provided the entertainment.

 

 

1990  Fifth Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

          "Vienna in Concert" Exhibit

          The Austrian Room Project Begins

 

In January of 1990, the Society sponsored a two-month “Vienna in Concert” exhibit from Austria at the Carnegie Music Hall. Society members worked as informational and display attendants and provided information about our Society and the Austrian Room Project. Arliss Sturges, Vice President, became President for the unexpired term of Michael Baronyak and continued on as President for seven years (1990-1996) during this important Room Project period. Member George Biber composed a song and lyrics especially for our Society entitled “Beautiful Austria”.   And member Professor and Doctor Peter Safar, Director of the International Resuscitation Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, was the honored speaker at the Fifth Annual Ball.

 

 

1991  Sixth Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

 

Members Dr. Joseph Novak, Chief of Staff at St Francis Hospital, and his wife Heidi were honored guests at the Sixth Annual Ball in 1991. Upon Dr. Novak’s retirement from St. Francis, Room Chairman Pandl enlisted his service as a second Room Committee Co-chairman with our capable Treasurer and Co-chairman Dolores Stehr. The Society was fortunate to obtain the services of Dr. Novak who, with his numerous friends and contacts in the medical profession and the Opera and Symphony Societies, was an asset performing an exceptional job of fund-raising. Listed for the first time in the ball program were Honorary Members Dr. Ivo Fischer, Founder and Honorary President; Dip. Ing. Franz Gerhard Schnoegass, Design Architect; and Elfrieda Schnoegass, Teacher and Historian.

 

 

1992  Seventh Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

"PBS Kitchen Show" on WQEX

 

1992 was the year of the Seventh Austrian Ball and Edgar Braun, Vice President and International General Manger of Arus Andritz-Ruthner, was the featured speaker and guest of honor with his wife Gina. Music and dancing entertainment, the Grand March, as well as a Waltz Contest and table favors were an important part of this annual function. Also in 1992, member Heide Novak and Claire Pandl appeared on WQEX, the “PBS KITCHEN SHOW”, preparing an Austrian Dinner consisting of a Veal Roast with Mushrooms, Salad with Wine Crème, Spaetzel, and Ox Tail Soup. Members of the society manned the telephones at WQEX answering questions, promoting our Austrian American Cultural Society and soliciting contributions for the Room Fund. On November 24th member Edgar Braun was awarded the Gold Medal of the Austrian Republic for efforts toward the advancement of Austrian Industrial Technology.

 

 

1993  Eighth Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

An Anonymous Donation to the Austrian Room Fund

           

The Eighth Annual Austrian Ball in 1993 featured our perennials: Master of Ceremonies, Franz Stehr, Ball Chairman Betty McDermott, President Arliss Sturges, Austrian Room Chairman Joe Pandl and honored guests Attorney Joseph Fisher, Judge Advocate and Director, and his wife Helen. Attorney Fisher was our featured speaker. During this year, as a result of several contacts and phone conversations by Austrian Room Chairman Pandl suggesting a potential anonymous donor to Austrian Ambassador Helmut Tuerk, on September 20, 1993 the Ambassador personally delivered a check for $25,000, which was the largest single contribution our Austrian Room Fund ever received.

 

 

1994  Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

Plans for Austrian Room Ceiling Murals (recreations from Haydnsaal)

 

1994, the year of the Ninth Annual Austrian Ball featured Consul General Walter and Mrs. Kalteis of Washington, D.C. and General Chairman Joseph and Claire Pandl as honored guests. As featured speaker, Joe Pandl announced that the Board of Directors had conferred Honorary Membership on Gunther Kaier, the Architect of Record for our Austrian Room, and that Artist Celeste Parrendo was selected to recreate the three ceiling murals from the Haydnsaal in the Castle of the Princes of Esterhazy in Eisenstadt, Austria. The other two artists evaluated and considered were Robert Loedding of Nashville, Tennessee and Robert Basil Gerwing of Robert Gerwing & Associates in Pittsburgh. Artist Parrendo was sent to Eisenstadt and met with Dr. Joseph and Heidi Novak to view, photograph and select the appropriate color combinations in order to reproduce the original three ceiling murals by Artist Carpoforo Tencalla (1632-1685).

 

 

1995  Tenth Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

          Fall Music Programs

 

The Tenth Ball in 1995 honored Edward and President Arliss Sturges who was the featured speaker. The first of several Fall Music Programs was instituted at the Hillman Auditorium in September and President Sturges announced that through contacts by Joe Pandl with the Mellon Family Foundation, on December 18, 1995 the Austrian Room Building Fund received a check for $20,000.

 

 

1996  Eleventh (Millennium Year) Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

First Society Picnic

Austrian Room is Dedicated

 

1996 was Austria’s Millennium Year and the Society’s Eleventh Annual Ball. Honored in the program by a “Hats Off” tribute for their special service were: Betty and John McDermott, Agnes Gerger, Mitzi Wolfrum, George and Elizabeth Mandl, Paul and Marge Pfingstl, Isabella Pfingstl, Dolores and Franz Stehr, Julius and Peggy Wailand, Frank Grosschedl, and John Blaha. Special recognition was also given to Heino and Dina Coelle, WPIT-German Hour; Marianne Rauer, WEDO-Zum Blauen Bock; and Violet Ruparcich, WEDO-Songs of Beautiful Slovenia. In the summer of 1996 President Arliss Sturges organized the first Society picnic. After seven challenging years as President, Arliss Sturges decided to retire and Vice President Joseph Novak became President to complete her term. With the dedication of the Austrian Room scheduled for June 9, 1996 the Austrian Room Committee completed arrangements together with Director Maxine Bruhns, and her Nationality Room Programs Staff. The events of the day were: Blessing of the Room by Bishop William Winter at 10:30 AM; Luncheon at the University Club; Dedication of the Austrian Room in the Heinz Memorial Chapel; and a Reception in the Commons Room of the University of Pittsburgh. Approximately 500 attended this momentous occasion. At the Board of Directors Meeting on October 17, 1996, with the room completed and dedicated, General Chairman Joe Pandl stepped down and passed the Chairmanship of the Austrian Room Committee to Doctor Joseph Novak who was responsible for raising significant funds for the Room. In his comments Joe Pandl extended his sincerest appreciation for their support to Co-Chairs Dolores Stehr and Dr. Novak, President for seven important years; Arliss Sturges; Ball Chair Betty McDermott for 11 wonderful Austrian Balls, Nationality Rooms Program Director and her entire staff, and all who had served as Directors, Officers and every member from the day the Society was formed. 

 

 

1997  Twelfth Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

Honorary Austrian Consul in Appointed

Scholarship Endowment Fund is Created

First Annual Student Scholarship is Bestowed

 

Joe Pandl was elected as President (1997-1998). Co-Chairman for the Twelfth Annual Austrian Ball were Dr. Joe Novak, Heidi Novak, and Claire Pandl. Honored guests and speaker was Consul General Walter Greinert from New York and his lovely wife Hildegarde. In previous contacts between President Pandl and Consul General Greinert and his staff, the names of three qualified members were submitted as candidates for the important position of Honorary Austrian Consul for the Pittsburgh Area. At the Ball, the Consul General announced the selection of Edgar Braun to fill this position. He also announced and presented the Gold Medal of the Austria Republic to President Joe Pandl for his leadership as the General Chairman of the Austrian Room Committee of the University of Pittsburgh. After twelve years as Membership Secretary, Betty McDermott stepped down and the President appointed Bernadette Miller as the new Membership Secretary. August V. Miller was appointed as Insurance Advisor. The Board of Directors was asked to review the by-laws to insure that they were consistent with the current conditions of the Society. Austrian Room Chairman Dr. Novak began his efforts to create a satisfactory Scholarship Endowment Fund and initiated the first scholarship for a Pitt student to study in Austria. The awardee was Jason M. Hasker, age 19, from Weston, Pa. This first scholarship award was named to honor Joe Pandl. President Pandl instituted a society quarterly newsletter entitled “Information Communique” to keep the membership informed. 

 

 

1998  Thirteenth Austrian Ball (Ballroom, Westin William Penn Hotel)

Revision of By-laws

 

In 1998, Heidi Novak with Co-Chair Bernadette Miller chaired the Thirteenth Ball. Honored guest and speaker was the newly appointed Consul General Dr. Harold Miltner. President Joe Pandl introduced the first Wine Cheese Meeting at the November election Meeting. Joe and Edna DiPaolo and Claire Pandl chaired this meeting. Judge Advocate Joseph Fisher, Esq. announced that the by-laws had been reviewed by the Board, updated and approved. Austrian Room Chair, Dr. Novak, announced that Betty McDermott would chair the standing committee for the decorating of the Austrian Room for the Christmas Season. Mark A. Peters, working to be a Professor of Music, was the second Scholarship recipient to further his studies in Austria.

 

 

1999  Fourteenth Austrian Ball (Greentree Marriott)

Two Student Scholarships Awarded

 

The Fourteenth Ball was held at the Greentree Marriott and was chaired by President George Mandl (1999-2000) and his wife Elizabeth. Consul General Dr. Harold Miltner as guest speaker. The third scholarship awardees were George Menz, 26, majoring in International Relations, honoring Betty McDermott and Grayden Provance, 21, majoring in Political Science and honoring Dolores Stehr. On March 19, 1999, member Dr. Peter Safar, Distinguished Service Professor at the Safar Center for Resuscitation Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor, First Class, of the Republic of Austria by Consul General Harold Miltner. Heidi and Joe Novak organized an Austrian Trip for members and friends to visit Austria from late August to early September.

 

Following their visit to the Austrian Nationality Class Room in August of 1999 Doctor Peter and Maria Rabel of Jennersdorf in Burgenland, Austria (cousins of Joe and Claire Pandl) together with a group of friends and associates had a “one of a kind” hand-carved Christmas Nativity Scene created in 100 hours of work by Gertrude Becker for the Christmas display in the Austrian Room. The Nativity Scene is valued at approximately $4,000 and those involved in this generous endeavor were: Doctor Peter and Maria Rabel and Family; Burgermeister Otto Scheiber of Marz in the Province of Burgenland; Hofrat Mag. Hans Lunzer, who provided the historical text; Mag. Ella Turk, who provided the English translation; Demeter Kanez, the Sponsor Coordinator;  and Gertrude Becker, the wood-carving artist.

 

 

2000  Fifteenth Austrian Ball (Sheraton Hotel, Station Square)

 

The fifteenth Austrian Ball in the year 2000 was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Station Square with Arliss Sturges as Chairman and Heidi Novak as Co-Chairman. The Graduate Scholarship honoring Joseph and Helen Fisher was awarded to Jennifer M. Friedlander and was a communications Ph.D. candidate at Pitt while the Undergraduate Scholarship honoring Isabella Pfingstl was awarded to Melissa Haas majoring in music at Pitt. Dr. Reinhard Heinisch, Asst. Professor of Political Studies at the U. of P., Johnstown provided an interesting lecture at a luncheon at the University club entitled “Austria’s Journey from the Marshall Plan to the Single European Currency”. Doctor Ivo Fischer, Founder and Honorary President, was awarded the Gold Medal of the Austrian Republic for his far-reaching activities.

 

 

2001  Sixteenth Austrian Ball (Sheraton Hotel, Station Square)

 

The Sheraton Hotel in Station Square was the site of the 2001 ball (the sixteenth). It was chaired by George Mandl. President Franz Josef Stehr (2001-2002) introduced Melissa Haas, the year 2000 recipient of a Scholarship Award as the special entertainment for the evening. Ms. Haas presented piano selections by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Scholarship awards were granted to Kimberly honoring Jane and John Davis and to Donald Killian, majoring in the German Language, and honoring George and Elizabeth Mandl. The July/August/September newsletter acknowledged the good work of our perennial Friendship Secretary Rita Lamm and her husband who provided appropriate greeting card contact with members at their personal expense. A program of distributing copies of our 1000 year Austrian History brochures to various grade and high schools in the Pittsburgh Area was also undertaken.

 

 

2002  Seventeenth Austrian Ball (Grand Foyer, Carnegie Music Hall)

First Debutante Ball

 

Cynthia Mustari was the Chairman of the Seventeenth ball in the Grand Foyer of the Carnegie Music Hall, which was the first Debutante Ball. Chairman Mustari’s very elegant and successful chairmanship can be attributed to attention to the smallest of details and the comprehensive proposal that she presented to and had approved by the Board of Directors. Music for the ball was presented by a 26 member symphonic orchestra. Seventeen Debutantes and their Escorts and two Flower Girls took part. Assisting with the debutantes and the Polonaise were: Dr. Joseph and Heidi Novak, Dolores Stehr, Karina Zoueva, Thomas Gilbert, and Susan Tate. On Wednesday, June 19, 2002, Dr. Joseph Novak was the recipient of “ The Decoration of Honor in Silver for Services to the Austrian Republic”.  

 

On May 16, 2002 member Frau Anna Kresh received the Gold Medal for Service from the Provincial Governor, Hans Niessl of Burgenland. Vice President Sister Mary Traupman was awarded a Pro Bono Award by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

 

 

2003  Eighteenth Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory)

 

The eighteenth Austrian Ball at The Pittsburgh Grand Hall at the Priory was chaired by Franz and Dolores Stehr and once again was a Debutante Ball. The Debutante Committee included Dolores Stehr, Donna Hudson, Heidi Novak, Helen Semethy, and Anne-Carol Tawoda. President Robert Tate, Esq. (2003-2004) was the Orchestra Coordinator and Andrew Puechel and Anne-Carol Tawoda were the dance instructors. Wilhelm and Jackie Dorfner were the Court of Honor escorts and Matthew Hiser and Susan Tate portrayed Kaiser Franz Josef and Kaiserin Elizabeth (Sissi). Deputy Austrian Consul General Dr. Sigurd Pacher was the honored guest. The two Scholarships awarded this year were dedicated to the memory of Frank Grosschedl who was a very active member, officer and worker.

 

 

2004  Nineteenth Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory)

Silver Anniversary

Creation of AACS Internet Web Site

First AACS-sponsored Program on WQED FM

 

President Robert Tate, Esq. and Jane Tate chaired the Nineteenth Austrian Ball, The Silver Anniversary Ball, on March 27, 2004. Honored guests included Dr. Heinz Kunz, Consul of the Swiss Confederation; Consul Joseph Senko, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Slovakia; and Honorary Austrian Consul Edgar Braun who was the featured speaker. The ball was once again a Debutante Ball at the Pittsburgh Grand Hall at the Priory involving the same Committee as in the 2003 ball. Member Anna Kresh performed an excellent job by establishing the Austrian American Cultural Society Web Site on the Internet and two excellent programs were organized and presented by President Robert Tate and Vice President Sister Mary Traupman promoting our society with information and Austrian Music on WQED FM.

 

 

2005  Twentieth Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory)

 

 

2006  Twenty-first Austrian Ball (Grand Hall at the Priory)