Recently we had our beloved Kelly Gale Amen’s birthday. This year, the anniversary was celebrated in the company of incredible people, hosted by one of Amen’s most beloved clients and friends. One of the most notable pieces of the evening, however, was Chef Dennis Starks and the mastership with which he delighted the attendees. A longtime friend of KGA Design, Chef Starks amazed both the eyes and the taste buds with the most wonderful courses, and we felt the need to express our gratitude both to him and to the guests for attending and making this birthday feel ever so special.
Consequently, we did what we know best: we created a Scrapbook that we invite you to explore.
Another interesting and notable element is that guests were in charge of reviewing the evening via text. You will find snippets of the reviews in the book, but we chose to publish one of the most interesting (and, dare we say, emotional) reviews here on this page. As such, one of the guests writes as follows:
Everyone came because of the big effect Kelly has had on them. In most cases, I suspect, he added beauty to their lives—or created it from apparently nothing. Kelly always talks about “magic.” Isn’t that magic, creating something from nothing? Or revealing what was invisible, except to the magician? Again and again, Kelly has done that for us. Not purchased beauty from outside and brought it in, but added to or revealed beauty there. He not only talked to us before acting but actually listened to us first, to learn what we considered beautiful. Then he built on that.
When Hurricane Harvey struck in 2015, it destroyed our home since 1978. The home was not just unique, lovely, and ours for 37 years, but was built fourteen years before we moved there by my parents. I was in college already and not raised there, but it was the repository of my memories, the place we raised our children, the place I remembered my parents, the place I expected to die. The backyard oaks that blocked the sky—I saw thin wood stakes hold them up. The front yard magnolia that in 2015 blocked sight of the western half of the sprawling home was, in 1983, barely able to provide shade for three people, me and the first couple whose marriage I performed. This year they celebrated their 39th anniversary. When my daughter’s third-grade teacher instructed her to draw a picture of her home from the street, she could not, because she had never seen her home from the street, only the plants in front of it. She had no idea what the home looked like. My parents planted all that on a bald prairie lot.
Meryl was shocked by our loss, but I was devastated. Kelly saved us, particularly me. He took complete control of negotiations with the insurer, secured a good settlement, let no barrier stand, and restored us to our home in 89 days. Years later, our neighbors who had education, experience, insurance, and means equal or superior to us but did not have Kelly, were still out of their homes, waiting for insurance money, waiting for building permits, or waiting to make up their minds. Kelly did all that for us. He got the money, made up our minds, and completed the job. Notice I did not mention permits. He didn’t get any. As in The Treasure of Sierra Madre, when the bandit leader declares, “We don’t need no steenking badges,” Kelly don’t need no steenking permits! And the home was more beautiful than ever by far. We exclaimed about that every day of the 21 months we lived there, before we were flooded out for good.
Then Kelly made our rent house beautiful. And then our current home, all in ways we couldn’t have imagined. And he’s not through yet.
Saturday morning I presented a eulogy about a mentor of mine, and I said that when he did or said something, I liked it, and when he did or said nothing, I liked that, too. I said I was closed-minded on the subject of him, and not interested in hearing opposing views. That’s sort of how I feel about Kelly. Though it’s hard to imagine him saying or doing nothing, there are days he says and does nothing for us. I like that, too. It’s enough to know he’s able, ready, and happy to rescue us, even on days we don’t need it.
Further I sayeth not.