PaperCity Magazine

April 2017 - Dallas

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80 SHE'S NANCY DEDMAN THE BOMB B Y B I L LY F O N G E very Texas town needs a sheriff. So, let's say we call Nancy Dedman the honorary sheriff of Dallas. She's always been an ethereal, engaging creature, gliding through parties where I've been privileged to find myself. When Nancy enters the room, everyone comes to attention — then smiles widen, as fellow guests immediately know they are at the right shindig. The era of haute couture worn in quiet, elegant way may be fading, still Nancy is one of the few who has always dressed impeccably, intelligently, and with a style all her own. She is one of the rare remarkable, well-traveled women who can dazzle in a designer gown one night, then hop a plane the next day to a far-off destination where the attire is perhaps better suited for safari. It took some maneuvering to access Nancy, but I found my way via her dashing nephew, Brad Kelly. Brad really should be a writer, as his below play-by-play of catching me working on my December "She's the Bomb" column is priceless: "I just happened to be driving through Highland Park Village one morning when you were 'interviewing' my cute friend Dee Dee Lee, sitting outside on a bench, before Dee Dee's golf game across the street at DCC. She was drinking a Starbucks to-go and giggling like a little girl as you discussed her being The Bomb. I couldn't resist stopping my car in its tracks, rolling down my window and chiming in, as you were having such a fun time with your 'celebrity interviewee.' And, indeed, Dee Dee ended up being the perfect Bomb! It was such a cute article, and I told myself the minute I read it that Aunt Nancy needed to be The Bomb in a future issue." A swarm of e-mails ensued, and a date was decided for PaperCity's Dallas editor in chief, Christina Geyer, and me to have an audience with Nancy. We were instructed to arrive at exactly 5:15 pm and were promised by Brad "one to four glasses of wine." I could go on for days about our time with Miz Dedman — from the informal tour she gave of her glorious French-style home to the nearly two hours we spent learning about her past dreams of being a diplomat, her definition of style (hint: you mustn't dress for anyone but yourself), the detailed — and coveted — notes she takes on places to eat, shop, and play in the countless cities she has traveled, and how much she loves celebrating her birthday with family and friends in St. Barths. (At the time of our visit in February, she had just returned from said celebration.) I hung on every word as she laughed when she mentioned that she'd graduated Phi Beta Kappa from SMU and ended up as a "simple stenographer" for an oil company as her first job. She could hardly pay her bills. I would never use the term "simple" to describe Nancy but was pleased to hear we had one thing in common: being poor 20-somethings. Many years later, of course, she and her family became major benefactors of SMU, of which she is exceedingly proud. Approximate date of this photograph. Remember to not be too specific or — perish the thought! — give away age. 1978-ish. The occasion. No special occasion. Just an opportunity to get a nice portrait wearing my grandmother's dress. I must know: your grandmother's dress? My fraternal grandmother's dress. She was a true Southern lady. It was one of my favorites, which I had updated by a designer in Memphis named Pat Kerr. I had gone to Memphis with a friend from McAllen [Marge Bentsen], who was having Pat make her daughter's wedding and bridesmaid dresses. Why is this a picture of you? It was a happy time in my life as a wife and mother — and I was leaving for Nepal the next day, where any vision of glamour quickly degenerated into trekking boots and khakis. Nancy Dedman, 1978-ish

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