Van Meter, who also has two grandsons, has lived in 11 states and five foreign countries.
After raising her children, she earned her undergraduate degree while in her 40s, joined the Peace Corps, secured her graduate degree while in her 50s and stepped onto a dance floor for the first time while in her 60s.
Noting that she always places primary emphasis on fun, she recently participated in the Mid-Carolina Senior Games at age 70 for the first time.
Runners up were: first, Ida White of the Virgin Islands; second, Toya Andrew of the Virgin Islands; third, Frances Christian of Texas, and fourth, Ruth Gibson of Florida.
Sixty-one-year-old Irene Lim came all the way from Singapore, her first visit to the United States.
Special awards went to two other contestants.
Donna Donlin, 82, of Minnesota, was presented the Eldest Stateslady Award. The Flaming Glow Award went to Britta Shaw of Oklahoma.
Assisting in announcing the contestants for the gown presentation was the pageant's first queen, in 1978, 91-year-old Anita Raposa.
Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. sang, "Young at Heart," to the contestants.
He said he was "very proud that the pageant has become such a tradition in Fall River."
The pageant began 28 years ago as a Lions Club fund-raiser.
The home-grown event, founded by Kaplan, went national 10 years ago and international two years ago. Contestants must be age 58 or older.