Boulevardier Bunky Cushing


Bunky Cushing has been the social arbiter of the Windy City for the past 20 years. What does this entail? “Keeping the harmony in the social chorus, and bringing the right people together,” he says.

Over dinner, Mr. Cushing told me about three events closest to his heart, which he organizes on an annual basis: an ‘invite-only’ Valentine’s Day Tea at RItz-Carlton Chicago, to thank those who support his charitable events; the Early Birds and Bookworms Breakfast at RL Restaurant, benefitting Jane Addams Senior Caucus; and Handbags & Halos at The Palmer House Hilton, benefitting Howard Brown Health Center.

At Mr. Cushing’s annual tea party, guests are asked to wear red, pink or fuchsia. How did this idea come about? Years ago, Grand Dame Hazel Barr suggested ‘please wear red, ladies’ be added to the invite. 2013 was the first year the invitation read, ‘please wear fuchsia, pink or red.’

“When I look back at all of the women I’ve invited to my parties, they epitomize everything I aspire to be – a trusting friend and exceptional host/philanthropist,” says Mr. Cushing.

New women have come into his life, but he’s still friends with the same women he met 20 years ago. “Bunky is the ultimate party planner – outstanding and capable in every way possible,” shares philanthropist Mamie Walton. “On top of that, he always has a smile on his face, large enough to brighten a room.” He’s a host, similar to Jay Gatsby, who sits back and watches as his guests socialize and have fun.

Philanthropist Myra Reilly, a constant friend for more than 20 years, says, “Bunky is dedicated to making a difference in Chicago; not only does he make a difference, he does it with great style and refinement.”

Kasia Jarosz Photographs Rosemary Fanti Illustration

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About Cindy Burns

Cindy Burns is an author, researcher and freelance writer. She has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and The Women's Auxillary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She’s also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital and writes as TCW's "Woman About Town," covering Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, interviews with women who are making a difference, and more around Chicago