The 'Big Ten' - 42nd annual party adds luster to holiday season


– Photo by John Meiu

The “Big Ten Party” helped ring in the holiday season December 16. Pictured are (left to right) John Rogers, Jim Williams, Tom Ryan, Robert Badgley, Santa (a.k.a. Vince Welicka), Bob Kostin, Al Holtz, and Jose Fanego. Rogers, “who is 92 years young,” according to Ryan, is “one of the original Big Ten members.”

By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

The “Big Ten” has shrunk to nine, but that didn’t lessen the enthusiasm for one of the highlights of the holiday season for the Oakland County legal community.

The 42nd annual “Big Ten Party” took place December 16 at Gino’s Santia Hall in Keego Harbor, drawing scores of merry-makers to the festive event that ranks as a “wonderful tradition” for those with ties to the bench and bar, according to attorney Tom Ryan, one of the longtime organizers.

The party was the brainchild of attorneys Parvin Lee, John Rogers, and the late Jim Flynn, Ryan indicated.

“The purpose was to combine the efforts of 10 lawyers,” Ryan explained. “Instead of fighting to give gifts to the various judges and court clerks, the 10 lawyers pooled their resource to host a party for the judges, clerks, referees, and all the judicial staff in Oakland County to thank them for all their service. They also make our jobs as lawyers easier and make us look better before our clients.”

This year’s party, Ryan added, also served as a posthumous tribute to a founding member.

“This year there were only nine of us because Larry Russell, one of the last of the original members, passed away in September, so we kept his spot open in honor of his memory,” said Ryan, a past president of the State Bar of Michigan and a University of Detroit School of Law alum.

The remaining nine include Ryan, Robert Badgley, Kurt Schnelz, Kelly Allen, Albert Holtz, Donald McGinnis, Jose Fanego, James Williams, and Robert Kostin.

“We have gone to various locations over the past 42 years, but we have been at Gino’s Santia Hall for probably the past 15 years or so,” said Ryan. “They put on a great party for us. We provide drinks, food, and a band for the Oakland County community. A lot of lawyers attend . . . everybody is in good spirits, and it’s our way to say thanks to the staff and community, who help us and our clients.”