It was a party that wouldn't have happened in Washington 10 years ago. Tina Fitzgerald came in tossing kisses as if they were spring flowers just ahead of her new husband, businessman William B. Fitzgerald. They were caught by: Secretary-General of the OAS Alejandro Orfila, businessman Ralph Emerson, banker Leo J. Bernstein Jr., City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker and ex-commissioner of Customs Miles Ambrose.
They were among a group from the communities of banking and finance, business, diplomacy and media that had come together with black Washington professionals to surprise Fitzgerald, 46, president of Independence Federal Savings and Loan Association, on his recent marriage to former Tina Eaton.
The brunch on Saturday afternoon, at the trendy W. H. Bone & Company in Southwest Washington, was hosted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, president of the board of Emerson's Restaurants, and New Yorkers Sheila O'Malley of Revlon and Morris Wessman, head of a Park Avenue investment company.
It would not have happened 10 years ago because Washington's savings and loan industry was segregated and all white, and Bill Fitzgerald, then in real estate, was not one of the city's key business leaders.
In 1969, when Fitzgerald and others founded Independence Federal, they made about 65 percent of its loans for home ownership in minority areas of the city, and were successful at it. Fitzgerald earned a lot of admiration.
"He is a super guy," said Leo J. Bernstein Jr., president of Guardian Federal, sipping the afternoon's hands-down favorite drink, champagne and orange juice.
"It's a mixture of so many people," Sterling Tucker said, sweeping his eyes around the small crowd chatting at the bar and nibbling chittlin' souffle, rabbit and homemade sausage in an adjoining lounge. "They're getting into Washington in a different way. They are willing to take risks, make investments. It's a new Washington."