A Santa Barbara Birthday and a Louisville Wedding

L to R Betty Oliver, Dr. Kurt Oliver, Janice, Steven Humphrey, Gary Lawrence, Karen Lawrence and Pat Howerton attending the birthday party.

By Janice Carter Levitch

Photos by Monica Montigny

Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable.”

–Mahatma Gandhi

Photo by J. Edward Brown.

Let me tell you about my recent trip to Santa Barbara, California, to celebrate Steven Humphrey’s birthday with some dear friends from Louisville, who also made the journey to this glorious little town. Snuggled along the west coast, Santa Barbara is alluring and picturesque and has definitely captured my heart (I’m still swooning over the experience thanks to a little help from cupid’s bow).


My heart swelled when Steven began greeting guests, which included Gary and Karen Lawrence (yes, Jennifer’s parents) who are as gracious as the day is long. Karen commented, “It was a happy coincidence that we happened to be in Los Angeles so we could be at Steven’s birthday party. We loved celebrating with him and his Santa Barbara family!” Other guests included Dr. Kurt Oliver, a veterinarian from Louisville, his wife Betty and their dear friend Pat Howerton. Liz Gastiger, a professional chef in Louisville and Santa Barbara, prepared the menu for the evening and attended with her husband Kevin Frantz.

The Santa Barbara home of Steven Humphrey,

Champagne flowed and so did the bourbon cocktails – after all, this was a group from Louisville. The party was buzzing with laughter and when the three candles (representing past, present and future) on the cake were lit, everyone sang happy birthday and cheered Steven on to open his gifts. One of the gifts was a saber (a large sword) used to open a bottle of champagne with a technique called sabrage. The saber and art of sabrage is something one has to carefully master, especially since the blade is dull (I would love to have a physicist explain this oddity to me sometime).

Left: Steven Humphrey opening the birthday saber.


View of the harbor in Santa Barbara, California.

 While in Santa Barbara, I took the opportunity to peruse the town and explore some of its most notable destinations. The Spanish Colonial Revival-style courthouse situated in the center of Santa Barbara is breathtaking. Built in 1929 by William Mooser III, I can only imagine the shenanigans that have taken place within the stucco walls of the courtroom. I was lucky enough to meet Judge Brian Hill in his chambers and discuss the goings-on of the local community. It seems the jail is across the street from the courthouse so the perpetrators in custody are escorted across the scenic downtown streets of Santa Barbara. I thought about the occasional tour bus unloading sightseers nearby, giving them the impression this is part of the tour. It’s a delightful thought, but orange is not the new black.

The courtroom of the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

 Speaking of delightful thoughts, another jaw-dropping experience I had took place at Bellosguardo, the estate of the late copper heiress Huguette Clark. Located on a bluff overlooking Santa Barbara’s East Beach, the house and gardens conjure up images of a golden era of days gone by. The interior is untouched by time with most of the original furnishings and artwork remaining intact. Though not open to the public, I was given a private tour of the magnificent gardens (even in the rain, it was perfect) and the interior, including the most private quarters.


With Valentine’s Day coming up, I can think of no better way to celebrate love than with a wedding (no, not mine). Dr. Seth Summers and Mrs. Ashley Summers recently had a spectacular wedding and reception at The Brown Hotel that included hundreds of delighted guests. The mother of the bride, Cindy Carcione, reminisced with me about Seth and Ashley’s love story, which began on a Valentine’s Day.

Dr. Seth Summers and Mrs. Ashley Summers at their wedding. Photos by Sarah Katherine Davis.

 “When Ashley told me of her first date with Seth, I knew in my heart she had finally found someone befitting of her kindness, love, and romance,” Cindy said. “Their first date was dinner on Valentine’s Day, and it had gone very well. Then, Seth said he had to go to the car and when he returned he had a box of roses, and he said he thought every girl should get flowers on Valentine’s Day. Ashley had been waiting for a very long time to find someone with this degree of thoughtfulness and ability to show love. He was the one.”

Love is intoxicating and I’m reminded of the lyrics from the song “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by the band Guns N’ Roses. The lyrics are gentle and intense at the same time, much like relationships. We need a little patience to balance the blend of gentleness and intensity, but when it’s right, there is nothing on earth sweeter than love. V