News & Politics

The Guest List From a Rare Gathering of JFK’s Family and Friends

Former White House staffer Nancy Dutton hosted the dinner at her Northwest Washington home.

The invitation read “We Were There . . . Let’s Gather Again to Remember and Celebrate,” and that’s what John F. Kennedy’s family, friends, and colleagues did on Saturday night at the Spring Valley home of Nancy Dutton, who worked in the West Wing. The dinner party was rare because it brought together members of the old gang, not many of whom are left. The menu of JFK-era favorites began with “John F. Kennedy chowder,” followed by salmon and sole ballotine and duck a l’orange, and ended with poire Jacqueline. They drank Italian and French wines and toasted with Pomeroy rosé Champagne. On Monday morning, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert Kennedy’s daughter and JFK’s niece, sent an e-mail that read, “It was a wonderful evening, never to be replicated. We were all so lucky to be there.”

This is one of those social occasions where the guest list tells much of the story. Below is who was there and their connection to JFK. Dutton said a CBS News crew was on hand to video tape the party for inclusion in a special broadcast that will air on Saturday, November 16: As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years.

From the Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson families:

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Ted Kennedy Jr., and his wife, Kiki; Lynda Johnson Robb and her husband, former governor of Virginia and senator Chuck Robb.

From the JFK White House and special appointments:

Dick Goodwin and his wife, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Harris Wofford, John Cochran and his wife, Barbara, Sue Mortensen Vogelsinger, Helen Lempart Westbook, Dan Fenn and his son, Peter, Meredith Burch, Eileen Carver, Lenny Donnelly, Jean Lewis, Maura Hurley Brackett, Pierrette Spiegler, Kathy Rafferty Tollerton, Mary White, Nancy Larson, Gillian Sorensen (widow of Ted Sorensen), Larry O’Brien III (son of Larry O’Brien), Murray White, Jim Symington, Lynn Paul, Charlie Peters, Frank Mankiewicz, Bill Haddad, Mary Ann Orlando, and Berl Bernhard.

From the staff of Vice President Lyndon Johnson:

Bess Abell and Judith Hackett.

From federal agencies:

Tom and Jane Casey Hughes (State); Bill Polk (Policy & Planning); Susie Wilson (USIA); Peter Galbraith (State); John Doar, Bill Geoghegan, Barrett Prettyman, and Peter Edelman (Justice); Mortimer Caplin and Walter Pozen (Treasury/Commerce); Frank Loy (FAA); and Jill Udall (Interior).

Members who served in the 87th and 88th Congress, which coincided with JFK’s presidency:

John Dingell and, representing her husband, Carrie Lee Nelson.

Senate staff:

Walter Pincus.

From the 1960 campaign:

Bill Wilson and Melody Miller, Lester Hyman, Ron Linton, and Alexandra West.

Special friends:

Marie Ridder, Polly Kraft Cutler, Wendy Morgan, and deputy ambassador Kevin Conmy of the Embassy of Ireland.

JFK historians:

Jeff Greenfield, Howard Willens, Kitty Kelley, and Chris Matthews.

Members of the media who covered JFK:

Ben Bradlee, Al Spivak, Sid Davis, Hedrick Smith, Lucy and Peter Jarvis, and Roger Mudd.