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An Elegant Sisterhood

On July 9th, 2017, the Florissant Civic Center played host to eight contestants, Missouri Pageant Alumnae, family, and a variety of onlookers attending the Ms. Senior America Pageant. The pageant, celebrating its 28th year, seeks to recognize women that have reached the “age of elegance,” which Missouri Pageant Alumni Club President Sharon Houston defines as “age 60 or older.” Each contestant must perform in four categories: evening gown competition, talent portion, an interview with the judges prior to the Pageant’s beginning, and a recitation of the contestant’s personal life philosophy in 35 seconds or less. The contestants this year were:

Jackie Johnson, Suzette Allinger, Karin Krakover, Virginia Leitner, Sandi Wright, Linda Stewart, and Ann Wallace. Among the many talented and elegant ladies competing, there was one that stood out for her adventurous spirit and wealth of life experience. At 102-years-old, Virginia Leitner did not shy away from any of the Pageant’s responsibilities or competition categories. Her reliable driver could be counted on to take her to and from the necessary events and activities, as Leitner desires to be actively involved on a regular basis. A self-proclaimed painter, Leitner presented some of her paintings to the judges in the competitions’ talent portion and openly shared each painting’s story.

Virginia Leitner left an impression on the minds and hearts of those who she came in contact with. Missouri Pageant Alumni Club President Sharon Houston marveled over her courage to compete and how involved she is at the age of 102.  Although Virginia did not ultimately take home the title of Ms. Missouri Senior America, her crowning glory continues to be her long life and energetic lifestyle. However, this year, the crown, trophy, and title of Ms. Missouri Senior America was awarded to Judy Davis, with first runner up Sandi Wright of St. Louis and second runner up Suzette Allinger of Creve Coeur.

Davis, like those before her, will serve a one-year term during which time she will perform in various showcases, parades, and other charitable functions. Davis will go on to compete in the Ms. Senior America Pageant held in Atlantic City in October. Only one contestant will take home the crown, however all contestants will be eligible to join the Missouri Pageant Alumni Club (Missouri Cameo Club).

The Club was established in 1989 as a non-profit organization born out of Senior America Inc. of New Jersey. According to Dr. Al Mott, Senior America Inc. was formed to create pageants that “motivate seniors to lead active, productive lives, and provide the opportunity for them to use their wisdom and talents to enrich the lives of others.”

After five successful pageants in Missouri, the Missouri Pageant Alumni Club (Missouri Cameo Club) was born. Any woman who participates in the state Pageant is invited to join the club. The club proudly boasts 80 “elegant” members who meet on the first Thursday of every month. The MPAC members continue to utilize their gifts and talents long after their Pageant participation. Within this group, the members perform in various showcases for nursing homes, retirement communities, community events and more. Funds received from the showcases go toward showcase costs and charitable donations.

President Sharon Houston is not shy about her passion for this organization or its members. Houston’s explanation of club meetings more closely resembles a family reunion. “It’s really more of a sisterhood,” she shares, “it’s a gathering of all incredibly talented women from all walks of life.”  For more information regarding the sisterhood of Ms. Missouri Senior America or to participate as one who has reached the “age of elegance,” you may contact Pageant Directors Susan Pellegrino 314-640-5789 or Helene Siegfried 314-997-1716.

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