From left to right: Third runner-up, Phyllis Chickett from MN. First runner-up, Ruth Gibson from ME. 2009 Queen - Toya Andrew from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Second runner-up, Connie Gabriel from MN. 4th runner-up and winner of the Flaming Glow award, Lynnette Schlager from Pahrump, Nevada.
The winners' court at this year's Senior Sweethearts pageant is shown above. From left to right are first runner-up Frances Christian, second runner-up Lynette Schlager, Marty Tuohy and his wife, Miss Senior Sweetheart winner Carol Tuohy, fourth runner-up Divina Alora-Jacome, and third runner-up Sharon Maloney.
Steve Aguiar, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ms Senior Sweetheart Pageants of American Inc, with 2005-2006 queen Virginia Freeman and Anita Raposa, 1st Queen of the Ms Senior Sweetheart Pageants in 1978
RIVER -- The art of aging gracefully was displayed on the B.M.C.
Durfee High School stage Sunday as the seventh annual national Ms.
Senior Sweetheart Pageant burst into
Twenty-three pageant contestants broke into song, dance and
merriment, displaying their talent and thrilling the
For the patriotic routine,
where all were dressed in red, white and blue, the stage was
decorated with a large flag, patriotic balloons, and was complete
with saluting police officers and firefighters. By the end of the
ladies' leg-kicking dance, not a dry eye was left.
finalists performed their talent routines, which ranged from
Vaudeville to jazz, and from a Grecian veil dance to country line
Their costumes were superb, many of the woman decked
out in sequins and bright colors.
The audience cheered for
the beautiful singing voice of Gladys Perkins of Somerset, who has
suffered for 45 years with multiple sclerosis. She sang "Anyone Can
Move a Mountain" from her wheelchair surrounded by three of her oil
Rose Singleton of Louisville, Ky. delighted the
crowd with a funny story-song about moving in with one of her five
sons -- and paying them back for years of jumping on beds, writing
on walls and drinking from milk cartons.
There was a
"Boogie-Woogie Bugleboy" dance by Marion Gagnon of Fall River, who
dressed in shining silver and black sequins, moving her feet
expertly to the tunes.
It was hard for judges to choose
winners from all the performances they watched.
When the gown
walks began, everyone commented on the colors and beading of the
dresses sparkling under the lights, as each woman made her way
across the stage, smiling to the audience and judges.
came time to hear the winners' names, pageant President Len Kaplan
first danced briefly with each "sweetheart" exchanging a few unheard
words, and a kiss on the cheek or forehead.
the women for having the courage to participate in the pageant. He
said there were 31 contestants originally, but since Sept. 11, a few
had dropped out of the race.
The first award, similar to a
"Miss Congeniality" for the over-59 crowd, was called the "Flaming
Glow" award. The contestants on Friday evening voted for their Miss
Congeniality, who was named as Marion Gagnon of Fall
Theresa Pereira of Tiverton, at age 84, was awarded as
the Elder State's Lady, being the eldest of the group.
runner-up was Tamara Swihart of Jackson, Mich. For her talent
portion, she performed a "clogging" to the song "Lord of the Dance,"
wearing a red sequined outfit.
Fourth runner-up was D'Juana
Oxford of Pasadena, Texas. She sings, dances and makes her own
jewelry, and has been active in her community for more than 50
Third runner-up was Gladys Perkins of Somerset, who
won the audience by singing in her wheelchair and inspiring the
crowd that anything is possible.
The second runner-up was
Virginia Freeman of Fredericksburg, Va. At age 81, she has four
children, 10 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
first runner-up was Allie McCullough of Kennesaw, Ga. A gospel
secular singer, she has been a broadcaster and professional
performer, appearing on television as well with the Billy Graham
With great anticipation, Kaplan announced the
winner of the 2001 Ms. Senior Sweetheart pageant. Teresita "Tess" P.
Smith of Las Vegas, Nev. was crowed as sweetheart.
the Philippines, Smith performed a "Tribute to Love," dressed in a
floor-length gown of exotic flowers, with blooms on the head and a
flowered lei around her neck. She served 21 years in the U.S. Army
and received numerous commendations and medals. She was honored as
Clark County mother of the year in 1999.
Kaplan has hopes of
eventually having women from all 50 states compete for the
Deborah Allard-Bernardi may be reached at