After decades as the reigning high priestess of the Washington dinner party, Sally Quinn knows how to entertain. She wrote the book on it (no, really, she did.)
So it was no wonder that the reception following the memorial service for her husband, former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, who died last week at 93, was flawless. And even a little fun, from the looks of the hundreds of Bradlee’s former colleagues, friends and family gathered beneath the massive white tent in the backyard of the Georgetown mansion that Bradlee and Quinn called home for decades.
Past the phalanx of valet parkers, the strains of “Close to You” played by a small jazz band greeted guests at the door. White-jacketed waiters swarmed, bearing trays of tea sandwiches. The lighting was soft, and vintage photos of Bradlee grinned out from the hors d’oeuvres tables.
He wasn’t the only one smiling. The mood wasn’t somber, despite the sad occasion and the drizzle outside. Bob Woodward sidled up to one of a few bars for a glass of white wine. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi mingled, and somewhere across the crowd, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer was doing the same.
Tom Brokaw was hitting the shrimp plate — hard.
And as the crowd began to thin, heading back out to waiting cars and taxis, several partygoers broke into song, crooning along with the band in an uptempo “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and shuffling a few dance steps.