A Publication of WTVP

As the holiday season creeps up on us yet again, end-of-the-year get-togethers will soon fill our schedules. We’ll be spending time with friends and co-workers, reuniting with family, and soon, toasting a new year. But if you could spend one evening with just three other people—anyone in history—who would you choose?

“You’re hosting a cocktail party for four people. Which three people (dead or alive) do you invite to join you?” We asked this year’s class of 40 Leaders Under Forty who they would invite to such a soiree. Their answers were fun and entertaining—and all over the map.

Many were personal—wives, husbands, children and other family members were popular answers. Brian Lewallen has a simple wish—to see his parents and brother, as he rarely gets to spend time with them in person. Holly Mosack would invite her late mother and her two boys. “It wouldn’t matter what the occasion was, I would just love to see my boys meet their Nana!” Jay Walton wants to reconnect with his late grandfathers, but would first bring his wife—he admits that he couldn’t pull off this hosting effort by himself! Christina VanDeVelde would like to spend some time with her mother and great-aunt, and learn the secrets of her great-grandmother’s long, happy life. “It would be so much fun to all be together again.”

Others invited leaders from throughout history to join them for drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a few hours of heady conversation. Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa topped many of the guest lists. Accompanying Mother Teresa to Stacy Borho’s cocktail party are Joan of Arc and Cleopatra—“all women who went above and beyond the call of duty and never gave up on people”—while Sara Dillefeld and her daughter, Brooklyn, will be joined by Anne Frank and Marie Antoinette.

President Lincoln, Dr. King and legendary basketball player Magic Johnson would clink glasses at Richard Pillman’s party. Later, Honest Abe would head over to Stephen Morris’ gathering, along with Jesus and Elvis, before capping off the night with Walt Disney, Christopher Columbus…and Nick Stafford.

Sprinkled among the family members and historical figures is a diverse group of pop culture icons, famous singers, comedians, professional athletes, journalists, politicians and writers. Rush Limbaugh would rub shoulders with Lincoln—who is quite the man about town!—and Barbara Walters at Renee Charles’ party. Ronald Reagan, Barbara Bush and Bill Clinton would bring a spirit of bipartisanship to Kelly Jo Kennedy’s. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, comedienne Chelsea Handler and media mogul Oprah Winfrey would no doubt engage in lively conversation with Suzie Hagemann, while financial wizard Warren Buffett, the inventor Benjamin Franklin, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are the distinguished names on Brad Kahler’s guest list.

William F. Buckley, Jr., Ben Stein and Dennis Miller would bring their political commentary and quick wit to Msgr. Jason Gray’s cocktail party. Serious conversations would ensue at Dr. Keith Knepp’s (Nelson Mandela, Brian McLaren, Malcolm Gladwell) and Chris Crawford’s (Daniel Burnham, Juan Williams, Newt Gingrich). Mandy Ellis would invite her husband, Brett—“who I would always want at my side”—to join University of Iowa mascot Herky the Hawkeye—“who can liven any crowd”—and Jim Parsons, the actor who plays Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory—“for his unique sense of humor.”

Other guests of honor included: John Wooden, Phil Jackson, Stan Musial and George Steinbrenner from the sports world; authors Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis and Maya Angelou; musicians Jimmy Buffett, Faith Hill, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Michael Jackson; and actors Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, John Cusack and Sandra Bullock. General Patton, Princess Diana, Colin Powell, Nelson Mandela, Rev. Desmond Tutu, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Peoria’s own Richard Pryor round out a diverse group of selections.

With a list of guests ranging across the board, this year’s 40 Leaders Under Forty are quite the party planners. Whether educating, entertaining, emotional, or all of the above, their cocktail parties are sure to feature conversations as diverse as their guest lists. iBi