Hillary Clinton hits town and has her private dining ritual with longtime friends

Phil Stefani provides the food, while former senator dishes out the laughs

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shown speaking at Roosevelt University in 2017, came through Chicago Monday to give a speech and to dine with old friends.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

There are evenings.

And then there was an evening last Monday on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private Chicago schedule.

Publicly, Hillary attended a reception at the home of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and wife, M.K. Pritzker before Hillary’s speech at the Riviera Theatre, where she branded Donald Trump “a cult leader.”

What went unreported? The decades-old private ritual of one of the most powerful women in the world conducted whenever she is in Chicago.

Clinton, 75, who came this/close to becoming our nation’s first female president, dined privately once again with her beloved Park Ridge primary and high school buddies.

Whenever Hillary is in town, it has always been thus.

And Sneed got a peek.

At 9:15 p.m. Monday, Hillary and eight of her schoolmates dined on “Far Cargo” pizza appetizers and “Cipriani’ tortellini pasta cooked up at the north suburban home of restaurateur Phil Stefani and his wife, Karen, close friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton since 1992.

Huma Abedin, Hillary’s top aide, and Illinois’ first lady M.K. Pritzker were also in tow.

So while Hillary and her classmates Bonnie Klehr, Ann Drake, Don Moel, Patsy Bowles, Ernie Ricketts, Tom Ebeling, Judy Osgood and Joel Platt yakked away at one of two tables at the private Stefani buffet dinner — the rest, which included bodyguards, joined in the fun at the second table.

“I laughed so hard I had to take a nap the next day,” said M.K. Pritzker, who describes Hillary as “a role model, an inspiration.”

“We were both born in the Midwest, and [Hillary] has a big western sensibility that I admire. She is amazing.”

Sneed has been told by several sources the fondness is mutual. Stay tuned.

“We all have so many old school stories to trade,” said schoolmate Bonnie Klehr. “Voices talking all at once, grateful to be together.

“We usually take a break from politics, just celebrate each other … and compare knees; a lifetime of shared memories; the days we did things together; catching up on family; celebrating our grandchildren now.

“Always trying to remember what year it was we did what we did in school,” she said.

“I guess you could say we’ve spent a lifetime meeting each other, keeping it personal and close,” Klehr said. “Where Hillary, who can be hysterically funny, can be herself. We were just grateful to be together, still there for each other.”

Several hours later, a tired Clinton toasted the Stefanis for their generosity and friendship, sadly noted how much she missed her forever best friend Betsy Ebeling, who died two years ago, and expressed sadness over the recent death of fellow classmate Hardye Moel.

Then, the Clinton entourage left with plans to meet again.

“It was wonderful,” Klehr said. “We all just feel very blessed to have found each other and been able to hang on to each other through thick and thin all these years.

“And I suppose it’s also a chance to return to that time when we were so young and everything was possible.”

Amen to that!

Dino story

Please don’t pooh-pooh poor Sue.

Sue is not going Boo Hoo!

Recent news that “Sue” the famous T. rex, “booted” from the Field Museum’s main hall years ago and soon being replaced by a predatory spinosaurus dino four feet longer, is not making her discoverer unhappy.

“It’s a good thing,” said paleontologist Sue Hendrickson, who found the iconic T. rex in the Dakotas years ago with Gypsy, her golden retriever.

“I’m delighted,” said Hendrickson, namesake of the world’s most intact tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, unveiled in 2000 at the museum.

“I believe that was the original plan years ago when Sue was finally moved to her own private museum space instead of dwarfed in the museum’s huge entry hall,” she told Sneed via phone Wednesday. “I was delighted with the move back then.

“The museum’s plan to unveil a cast of the huge spinosaurus, a fearsome beast to be hung from the museum’s entrance, is brilliant. Bravo.”

Sneedlings ...

Saturday birthdays. actor rapper Andre 3000, 48; actor Paul Bettany, 52, and statesman Henry Kissinger, 100. Sunday birthday. singer Kylie Minogue, 55; singer Gladys Knight, 79, basketball legend Jerry West, 85.

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