Well, they really did it this time. My family and friends, that is. Pulled the wool completely over my unsuspecting eyes.

Why wouldn’t I have believed my friend Susan Tjarksen when she coerced me into escorting her to a black tie event saying her husband was in Greece visiting his family?

August 1999 PIC 1

“Who me?” was all I could say walking into the Ambassador East when I learned that Susan’s “occasion” was a surprise 40th birthday bash for moi!

August 1999 PIC 2

My mother, left, and Susan were overwhelmed with having “pulled off” the surprise. Co-host Bill Senne was proud of all their secret efforts.

August 1999 PIC 3

Most of the Wiltgen clan joined in the celebration.

August 1999 PIC 4

Though totally flabbergasted, I managed (somewhat emotionally) to give heartfelt thanks to all of the beautiful people who kept quiet. That was a huge deal.

August 1999 PIC 5

Susan Baldwin and her husband, Fredric Burian, were in on the fun.

August 1999 PIC 6

Vicky Kaminski, left, and Jeff Meyer flank me and are joined by Val McCune and Danny Campbell. Vicky and Val are sisters and both friends and clients of JRWD. Danny attended Arlington (Heights) High School with my family; he and my younger brother were in the same class.

August 1999 PIC 7

Alfredo and Leslie Capitanini offered a toast.

August 1999 PIC 8

Dean Kerasotes, Karen Crane, and publicist Hank Lienau had a good time.

August 1999 PIC 9

Only pretending to be out of town, Nikko Roussos enjoyed the party with his wife, Susan Tjarksen.

August 1999 PIC 10

The JRWD team was there.

August 1999 PIC 11

Not one but two glamorous guests; Val and her sister, Vicky, get a hug from my brother, Ray.

August 1999 PIC 12

My 40th birthday surprise really took the (Versace themed, of course) cake.

Thank you one and all for sharing this very special day.