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Little Rock events planner remembered as 'special person'

His work was one-of-a-kind, classy, perfection, friends say

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Photographs by Democrat-Gazette file photo

Delaney “Todd” Bagwell is shown in this file photo.

As a sophomore in high school, Delaney "Todd" Bagwell -- who died Wednesday at age 51 of complications from cancer surgery -- already dressed to impress.

A collared shirt, tucked into his ironed jeans. A belt, clean shoes. At least, that's the image his friend Anne Bowlin calls up of when she first met him. He sat alone at a table in the cafeteria and had his lunch lined up with his glass to one side and his napkin on his lap.

"I want to know who that is," Bowlin said, recalling what she told a friend then. "From that, I fully believe we created a monster."

By the time the Louisiana native got to Ouachita Baptist University, he was a socialite. He took Rita Reed Harris to her first social outing at the university, Harris said. He met her after hollering across the lawn during an event: "Rita Reed, I've heard so much about you!"

How had he heard about her?

"There is no telling," she said. "It's because ... I was a transfer to the campus, and I was going to be living with the Chi Delta president. Of course, he needed to know" all about it.

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Harris, who was later a part of the Chi Delta sorority, said Bagwell helped the group organize events as he worked to earn an accounting degree. After getting his degree, he went into banking for a few years, but it didn't stick.

"I was like: 'B-o-r-i-n-g. Desk job. Desk job. Desk job,'" he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2011.

After a few years -- and many planned cocktail parties later -- Bagwell started wedding and event-planning on the weekends for David Garner of the Marlsgate plantation in Scott. In 1996, he moved to New York City after being hired by Helen Benton of Vera Wang.

He also worked with bridal designer Ulla Maija before starting his own event-planning company -- T. Bagwell and Associates -- in New York City. The company has run events for national groups, including Conde Nast and Vera Wang.

"Crazily enough, he was kind of an entity on his own," Bowlin said. "He didn't have a big company of people working under him. He probably did 75 to 80 percent of the work completely by himself."

He opened an office in New Orleans three years later and then consolidated both offices into one in Little Rock in 2010.

In Little Rock, Bagwell was known for work, ranging from planning weddings to nonprofit fundraisers. Lately, he also had taken to interior designing, Harris said.

"He was a very generationally special person in the Little Rock community," Bowlin said. "He would start with brides and do weddings, and later in life, he would end up throwing their baby showers."

His events were meticulous. Some would even call them perfection. They were always one-of-a-kind.

Bagwell was behind the CHI St. Vincent Foundation's IV Party and the Arkansas Arts Center's Tabriz.

The IV Party was the St. Vincent Foundation's first signature event, said Wendy Saer, a board member of the foundation. He came in with several plans: one for the first party, and several others, and how one party could turn into another, she said.

"He would have a vision for the look of it, a vision for the colors," Saer said. "By the time we got to the one we were doing, he was already on the next year. Any new trend coming, he wanted us on it. The hospital was doing a lot of cutting-edge medical stuff, so he wanted the parties to be cutting-edge, too."

He upped his game for other nonprofit events in Little Rock, she said, adding that people started attending the fundraising parties just to see what he would do.

"With style, class and taste, Todd made every occasion, event and celebration fun," Harris, Bowlin and Nita Kay Freeman said in a prepared statement. "He will be sorely missed by all."

Metro on 09/14/2017

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