The seventh annual Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Roast will honor none other than Ms. Gisela Houseman, owner of Tony Houseman Homes and Houseman Companies. The roast will be held on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Bridge City Community Center.

Chairwoman Adrienne Coletti said “We’ve never had a female roaster before. I just decided it was time to have professional business woman.”

The roast, held every two years, will not only provide an evening of laughs but also provides funding to the Chamber, which “helps benefit all of our local businesses,” Coletti said.

“So far we’ve raised over $10,000 and that’s not even including the silent auction we will be hosting,” Coletti said. “We have been in contact with an auction house and we have autographed pictures, signed Willie Nelson album and lots of stuff from our local businesses.”

This year’s roasters include: Dr. Jimmy Simmons, president of Lamar University in Beaumont; Evelyn Lord, former mayor of Beaumont; Betty Harmon, retired executive director of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce; and Debbie Means, Houseman’s oldest daughter.

“Gisela and I are best friends,” Betty Harmon said. “We travel together and really enjoy each other’s company. I’m going to be proud to roast her.”

Harmon and Houseman have been close friends ever since Houseman moved to Orange, over 20 years ago.

Harmon explained she has to be careful what she says during the roast because turn about is fair play.

“I was so honored that [Gisela] asked me to this, I had all my preparations made as to what I was going to say and she cleverly comes back and says ‘remember, I have the last word.’ She holds the upper hand.”

Houseman is well known throughout the community not only for her and her late husband’s business, but also for her philanthropic work in Southeast Texas.

Born in Hamburg, Germany Houseman became a U.S. resident in 1956. Before moving to Southeast Texas in 1987, she was an insurance professional for 25 year with a background in accounting and finance. She married Orange County developer, the late Tony Houseman and they have four children.

She is a graduate of Leadership Texas, Leadership America and went to China to help establish an international leadership program.

Houseman is one of the founding members of Leadership Southeast Texas over 19 years ago.
She has received numerous awards throughout her life including the most recent “South East Texan of the Year,” the Athena Award of Orange County, J.C. Penny Golden Rule Award, and the Lone Star Proud for Kids Award for her work with CASA. She was inducted into the Women’s Conference of Southeast Texas Hall of Fame in 1991 for business and finance and was awarded the Frances Monk Award for Leadership.

She is active on numerous charity boards and foundations, including the Salvation Army and CASA. She serves on the board of the Better Business Bureau, LIT Foundation and Lamar State College – Orange Foundation.

“We thought it was great time to have Mrs. Houseman,” Coletti said. “I think she was a little nervous at first but once she decided to do it, she became really excited.”

While some might not want to be roasted, Houseman is ready to be part of such a wonderful night.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Houseman said. “They came to me four or five months ago and asked if I would be willing to be roasted. I said ‘sure, if I can help I’d be willing to make a fool of myself, or let others make a fool of me.’”

While anyone would be nervous about their closest family and friends telling humorous stories in public, Houseman is ready for the action.

“I don’t know what they’re going to tell,” Houseman said. “I don’t think I have any major skeletons in my closet. I think they will poke a lot of fun but then I get to turn around and poke fun at them.”

Coletti said there are some tables and seats left for those interested in attending the roast. For prices, reservations or more information, please contact Coletti at 409-792-5021 or 409-988-8020.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers