Catherine Pratt celebrates gala 90th birthday
MEMBERS OF THE CLASS OF 1941 – Alphonso Giles, Catherine B. Pratt and Nancy S. Dawkins, not shown.
LADY PANTHERS BASKETBALL TEAM — Ruby Beamon, Alma Ford and Catherine Pratt.
By Shawn Pratt Allen
September 15, 2012 will be recorded in the hearts and minds of many native Fort Lauderdalians, youthful and seasoned, and well-wishers who hailed from across the United States and the Bahamas to pay tribute to Catherine Pratt, retired educator, mentor and role model on her 90th birthday.
This red carpet event was sponsored by her loving daughter, Shawn Pratt Allen, principal of Lloyd Estates Elementary, at the beautifully decorated Broward County PBA Hall located in Davie, Fla. The beautiful colors of red, black and silver added to the ambiance of this gala affair.
All 150 plus guests’ eyes were focused on the honoree as she was ceremoniously escorted by her nephew, Dr. Robert Taylor, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Health and Science at Florida A&M University (FAMU). The honoree’s head was held high as she strutted to the sound of loud and tumultuous hand claps and vocal incantations of love, honor and praise.
The invocation was rendered by Rev. Abraham Carey of United Methodist Church, Rev. James (Crunch) Melton of New Mount Olive Baptist Church and other participants introduced by the Program Mistress, Shawn Pratt Allen.
Two of her classmates of the 1941 graduating class of Dillard High School joined in the celebration: Alphonso Giles, long time friend and retired Broward County educator and Nancy Dawkins, who now resides in Miami, Fla. Also present were Alma Ford Collins and Ruby Jenkins Beamon, graduates of the Class of 1942, known as, along with Cathy, the stars of the Lady Panthers Basketball Team, who left their marks in the history of Dillard High School’s Athletic Department from 1939-1942.
A letter from President Barack Obama expressing his congratulations and best wishes to the honoree was then shared with the audience.
During the delicious and sumptuous meal, the spotlight was directed on the honoree, who immediately expressed her gratitude to all who joined in her celebration. She thanked first the students whose lives she had touched and who never forgot the importance of loyalty, dedication and discipline. She then thanked the members of all the committees where she had faithfully served, and then her family, where she was the beacon that taught by example “love is indeed an action word”.
She remembered her neighbor, Maurice Walker, who is to her what Morgan Freeman was in the movie, “Driving Mrs. Daisy”. She told how he takes her shopping, takes her to lunch, and makes sure that her house is secured. She paused briefly and then said very comically, “Yes, My Maurice drives Mrs. Cathy.” With that, the audience laughed loudly and gave her a round of applause.
The rest of the evening was spent listening to and dancing the Electric Slide and other dance numbers provided by the Michael Kennedy Band.
All who attended agreed it was an evening well spent.