In the spring of 1986, Trudy Cross who worked for the Mott foundation in Flint, Michigan, met Al Mott, (no relationship), at a National Conference on Aging in Washington, DC. Al Mott was the founder of the Ms. Senior American Pageant. Al asked Trudy to start a pageant in Michigan, so at the Flint Conference on Aging, Trudy asked several senior leaders to help her establish a Ms. Senior Michigan Pageant. The leaders were Jackie Jolly-Kwiatek from Clinton Township Senior Center, Marilyn Hoover- Flint Senior Center, Sandy Middleton – Waterford Senior Center, Lee Lucas – Midland Senior Center, Vicky Yost – Southfield Senior Center, Marye Miller – Rochester Hills, Rochester and Oakland Township Senior Centers. Later, Sharon Briggs from Wyoming Senior Center, and Pat Smith, Flint Senior Center joined on the Ms. Senior Michigan Pageant Board.
Margie Montross was hired as the Pageant Director to bring the 19 senior ladies together to put on a pageant at the University of Michigan Flint Theater. She started all the ladies in an opening number, “The Sizzlers”, called the Senior Dance Troupe Extraordinaire. The pageant was hosted by Ted Johnson, Flint’s local radio personality.
The interview portion of the pageant took place before the show by five capable judges, Sharon Lee – Miss Livonia, Charles Anders – Elias Brothers, Gaye Lynch – Patricia Stevens Modeling and Finishing School, Tom Fallon – Bay City Times Editor and Mattie Majous – Channel 2 Reporter.
The 19 ladies performed the talent portion of the program with singers, dancers, instrumentalists, an artist and reading. Following the talent, the contestants expressed their Philosophy of Life and walked the stage in their elegant gowns. The winner of the pageant was a tap dancer, Lucille Pearson from Troy, a retired school teacher that could pound the stage with her tap shoes. Lucille went on to the Ms. American Pageant that fall and was the First Runner-up. The Interview, Talent, Philosophy of Life, and Evening Gown are each scored portions of the competition. The pageant was to depict the age of elegance, and that it did.
The first big sponsor was Elias Brothers Restaurants with Bill Morgan leading the charge.
Some of the Honorary Board of Directors are Martha W. Griffiths – Lieutenant Governor the State of Michigan, Daniel T. Murphy – Oakland County Executive Director, Nancy J. White – League of Woman Voters of Michigan and Sandy K. Reminga – Executive Director, Area Agency on Aging 1-B.
We went on to host the Ms. Senior Michigan Pageant at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township. In 2000, the pageant was hosted by the Port Huron MaCormic Theater. In 2006, the Older Persons’ Commission in Rochester began hosting the pageant in their facility.