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Joining me at SOS's 20th Annual Onion Lunch was the lunch founder Kathy Marlowe Thompson

Joining me at SOS’s 20th Annual Onion Luncheon was lunch founder Kathy Marlowe Thompson

I’ve been attending the Share Our Selves’ (SOS) Star Team Onion Luncheon for nearly all of its 20 years, and I really didn’t know until this year that the Star Team and Onion Luncheon founder, Kathy Thompson, had been a Hollywood starlet. Known as Kathy Marlowe in the ’50s and ’60s, the curvaceous beauty starred in dozens of movies and TV shows (see her pinup photo). Later, settling into her life in Newport Beach as the wife of Jerry Thompson and raising three children, two of whom were at the luncheon – April Egbert and Todd Thompson, Kathy turned her attention to philanthropy. Luckily, SOS was the recipient of her largesse.

Kathy and Jerry had been hosting an annual springtime luncheon for many years, where they gave family and friends a gift of Imperial County Sweet Onions, and Kathy prepared and gave out onion recipes, including cream of onion soup and onion ice cream. Twenty years ago, Kathy decided to fundraise for SOS by founding an A Team guild filled with passionate volunteers for the nonprofit and a Star Team guild filled with generous donors and hosting the onion luncheon as a means of fundraising for the nonprofit. Soon, hosting the luncheon in their home in 1994 with 30 guests and 75 pounds of onions demanded a larger venue with the growing number of guests, and the annual event was moved to Five Crowns Restaurant in Corona del Mar. It has remained there since, and with this year’s 20th anniversary celebration, the event boasted 92 guests and 1,000 pounds of Imperial Valley Onions!

So, as in the past, the A Team, for which Kathy is president, hosted the luncheon, which honored the Star Team. Kathy was surprised at the luncheon with a beautiful plaque commemorating her 20 years of service and dedication to SOS. SOS’s Founder Jean Forbath and its Executive Director Karen McGlinn presented the honor to her. Forbath credited the A and Star Teams and Kathy’s efforts for having raised more than $800,000 over the 20 years, including $40,000 from this luncheon.

The luncheon did not disappoint with the Five Crowns’ signature Prime Ribs of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and Creamed Spinach entree. Neither did the live auction, led by feisty auctioneer Mike Russell and his assistant, the Tompson’s son Todd. They were hilarious together! Jane Taylor scooped up two tickets to SOS’ 24th Annual Celebrity Chef Dinner on November 7th, James Marrietti won 50 pounds of Imperial onions and Laurie Veitch won the darling white gold and diamonds star earrings from William Harold Jewelers. She said the earrings were for her daughter, who just got engaged.

It was left to McGlinn to sum up SOS’ mission of providing care and assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Orange County since 1970. She talked about the homeless lady waiting for Karen at SOS on Christmas Eve, the man who worked at a local car dealership, who had inadvertently run over his son and didn’t have money for his funeral, and the lady in her ’60s caring for her 30-year-old challenged son, who was terminal. “We have created a new tapestry of life,” McGlinn said, “and you have made it possible.” In closing, she said, “Our legacy is our simple acts of kindness.”

Guests departed with a bag of Imperial County Sweet Onions and recipes for cream of onion soup, cheese scalloped onions and Kathy’s famous microwave onions. I had one bit of sadness that day. Link Mathewson, my longtime friend who passed away earlier this year, was not there to enjoy it. She always greeted me with her winsome smile. Luckily, her son Curtis Mathewson and wife Julie were there to represent her.

Selected photos by Gary Bridge

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