Miss. woman crowned Ms. Senior America in Las Vegas

Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A retired psychometrist from Mississippi was crowned Ms. Senior America on Saturday after a winning performance of classical piano.

Suzanne Shelley, 60, of Hattiesburg, was chosen from 33 contestants judged in four categories: interview, philosophy of life, evening gown and talent. The winner best exemplifies dignity in the “age of elegance” and volunteerism, organizers said.

Mary Richard, Ms. Senior Nevada, was named first runner-up. The 61-year-old Henderson woman danced the salsa for the judges.

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Ms. Senior California Patricia Starr, 69, of Santa Barbara, came in third with a piano medley of 1940’s hits.

Contestants must be at least 60 years old to compete in the pageant, which began in 1971 to combat negative images of the elderly in the media.

This year’s competition was held at the Imperial Palace casino-hotel in Las Vegas.

Shelley, who scored psychological tests before she retired, will receive a Valentine glass vase known as the “Elegant Queen” and travel during her reign on behalf of pageant sponsors.