During my long career as an attorney and executive in the cotton industry I often travelled from Washington, D.C. to interesting venues around the U.S. and to many foreign countries for meetings. From time-to-time I met famous people in airport VIP lounges including Richard Widmark and Mia Farrow in the American Airlines Admiral's Club in Los Angeles. I encountered Raquel Welch on the inter-terminal train at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Henry "Hank" Aaron in the Atlanta Airport, and many more celebrities, sports stars, and politicians in my travels.
One such occasion stands out in my memory. On April 19, 1997, I was attending the meeting of the Western Cotton Shippers Association at the resort hotel, the Quail Lodge in California's Carmel Valley.
It was a beautiful day. Late that afternoon the association's board gathered to meet in the hotel's Garden Room, which led out to wide steps down into a patio bordered by shops on each side. Given the beautiful weather someone opened the French doors leading to the patio steps to let in the fresh breeze and to provide a better view to the surrounding green hills.
While each of us at the meeting was doing his or her best to attend to the business agenda, to a person we would sometimes gaze out at the beauty of the Carmel Valley and wish that we were out there rather than being confined to that room.
It was midway through the meeting when an apparition seemingly appeared on the patio that caught our attention. Our eyes widened to see a person we were in awe of in our younger days -- Doris Day. She was dressed in loosely fitting linen pants, and a long-sleeved shirt topped by a floppy straw hat to protect her from the sun. We had no doubt it was she, and before anyone said a word, we all spontaneously began to sing, Que Sera Sera, one of Ms. Day's many hit songs. She looked up at us with a mischievous smile, a smile that melted your heart, put her head down and then raised it as she did her opened right hand. She shook her head back and forth and with her hand motioned for us to stop as she mouthed the words, "Now, stop it."
Her appearance made our day. She was 75 at the time and had been out of the public eye for about 30-years. Here she was out shopping, not wearing makeup, and she still looked like the beautiful actress and singer we had all grown up watching in countless motion pictures and listening to on the radio or seeing her on television during the 1940's through the mid 1960's.
She died recently at the age of 97 at her home in Carmel by the Sea, where she maintained an animal sanctuary on her large ranch. In her private life she had become an acclaimed animal welfare activist. She also owned a pet-friendly hotel in Carmel, the Cypress Inn.