Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Miss Zephyrhills Throughout the Years

By , 28 December, 2009, 5 Comments

With Zephyrhills Founders Day approaching, the authors of ‘Countdown to Centennial,’ hope to capture a bit of the historical culture of the historical Zephyrhills Founder’s Day.

The Miss Zephyrhills Pageant was a very celebrated and festive happening for many years in the Zephyrhills High School history. The queen and her court were given a prominent place in a multiple-page spread in the ZHS Annual (now known as yearbook) and Miss Zephyrhills and her court were always on hand for christenings of new businesses, Chamber of Commerce events, fundraisers and of course, all parades. The year’s reign was quite festive and in the event that the queen moved or perhaps married, the runner-up proudly assumed the reins of the honor.

The pageant was in many ways a rite of passage for teens in the Zephyrhills community and is remembered fondly by many.  
The Zephyrhills Lion’s Club was the sponsor of the pageant for most of its years of operation.  The pageant was also a fashionable and well-attended occasion with often attendance of over 500 guests.  Participants often numbered 40 contestants or more and considering the school membership was 300 to 400 in the 50’s and 60’s, this was a significant number. Zephyrhills News Editor, Bernie Wickstrom, proudly displayed photos of the contestants, their sponsors and news coverage of the pageant and coronation line-up.

There have been 49 Miss Zephyrhills that we were able to document.  There may have been some additional ones unaccounted for, and we would welcome reader input on this.  The pageant has traditionally been a highlight of Zephyrhills Founder’s Day and with rare exception, always occurring as a culmination or opening highlight of Zephyrhills Founder’s Day.  Founder’s Day however, did occur at other times of the year and we found that it coincided with a type of school homecoming in the 20’s and 30’s. The modern Miss Zephyrhills contest as we know it today began in 1956.

The first documented Miss Zephyrhills was Lucile Ryals in 1927.  She was selected through a community vote. The Zephyrhills Colonist (Sept. 29, 1927) is filled with information about the contest, coronation and parade. The total number of votes polled for all candidates in the 1927 contest was 996,450 (obviously they did multiple voting).

There have been many noteworthy gals to have the title and several have held other titles such as Miss Pasco or even more prestigious titles. Nancy Wise (1974) held the title of Miss Florida Teen in 1975.  Some of the most recognizable names include: Lois Ann Wells (1970) who became a New York City Rockette in 1981. Anna Jo Davis in 1963, wife of recently retired city councilman and long-time educator, Clyde Bracknell, was splendid in one of the most spectacular gowns.

We had the occasion to chat with her recently about that beautiful cherry colored hoop-skirt formal gown that looked as though she could have stepped out of a Scarlet O’Hara role in Gone With the Wind. Joyce Ann Stover-Staats (1980) will be remembered for her unusual talent. She was a ventriloquist with her partner (dare we say, dummy), Wesley. Joyce Ann was called upon to introduce and entertain throughout her reign.  Another quirky fact of the historical Miss Z’s is the case of Kelly and Kimberly Bishop who are two of a threesome of identical triplets who held the title in the year’s 1986 and 1987. The two sisters wore the same lovely violet sequined gown that must have been quite a good luck charm.  The first and only African American Miss Zephyrhills was Laryssa Sherman (1996).

Another dedicated educator who wore the crown was Lynn Nichols in 1960, who held several other local titles.  Lynn was on hand with several other ZHS alumni for the ground-breaking ceremony of the USF campus in Tampa in 1958.  We have included a photo of Lynn with the high school basketball coaches’ young son who was enamored with her charm in 1960.  The photo captures the spirit of the Miss Z competition and the fondness given to this role in the community and school history.

LaWanda Wilson (1983) and Diane Kennedy (1978 ) assisted with the research about the pageant over time and continue to be involved in the coordination of the event today. Diane has served as the pageant director, a role that both she and her mother have held over the years and Lawanda served as the photographer for the event. In the 1990’s the interest in beauty pageants waned a bit and there were several years in which the pageant was not held. It was however reinstituted in 2007.

It has also changed to reflect more of a scholarship emphasis and a springboard for the Miss Florida event. Recently, the Miss Z pageant has been opened up to a more diverse participant base and does not always represent only ZHS students. The current Miss Z is Brittany Monbarren whose parents are ZHS grads.

A list of the queens over time includes:

1927- Lucile Ryals

1951-Barbara Sabin

1952-Joan Johnson

1956-Billie Jane K’Lapp

1957-LeNore Lincoln

1958-Alice Hutchinson

1959-Linda Cavin

1960- Lynn Nichols

1961- Deloris Jones

1962-Judy Goulding

1963-Anna Jo Davis

1964-Linda Sabo

1965-Sandra Clark

1966- Gloria Kinnard & Mary Stanley

1967-Sharon Lee Sabo

1968- Joy Ellen Reutimann

1969- Deborah H. Forbes

1970-Lois Ann Wells

1971-Mary Diane Tyre

1972-Syble Marie Ferguson

1973-Deborah Ann Woolfolk

1974-Nancy Diane Wise

1975-Jacqueline Marie Wallick

1976-Jackie Hood and Tina Martin

1977-Jamie Suzanne Walker

1978-Diane Kennedy

1979-Jennifer L. Wilson

1980-Joyce Anne Stover Staats

1981-Gwendolyn Irene Nance

1982-Holly Ann McLeod

1983-LaWanda Dee Wilson

1984-Janna Loraine McKell

1985-Kelly Regan

1986-Kelly Lyn Bishop

1987-Kimberly Kay Bishop

1988- Tammy Rene Swetland & Suzette Lynn Summers

1989-Scarlette Leigh Rogers

1990-Angela Shannon Krueger

1991-1992- Jennifer Anne Roys

1993-Brandi Renee Pattie

1994-Andrea Celeste Dimitri

1995- Terrie Leigh Smith

1996- Laryssa Sherman

1997-Leah Sandor

2007-Devin Brooks

2008-Brittany Monbarren

Miss Zephyrhills Throughout History

Miss Zephyrhills Throughout History

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on March 12, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

5 Responses {#}
  • Sandra Pricher

    I was chairman of the pageant committee for the Chamber of Commerce from 1989-1994. With the help of Kelly (Regan) Williams and Kelly Bishop directing, we had some wonderful pageants. They were really great performances with large crowds attending. I still have contact with a lot of the girls. Those were fun times.

  • Angela Krueger St. Clair

    Oh yes Sandy! I don’t know what I would have done without you, Kelly and Kelly. I know I wouldn’t have tried for Miss Zephyrhills again in 1990 if it hadn’t been for the two Kelly’s calling me and telling me to try one more time. They were right and it was such a wonderful experience for me. I am so thankful to have represented the community of Zephyrhills. Thank you all so much.

  • Kelly Reagan Williams

    Being Miss Zephyrhills was such a highlight for me. Thanks for the comments above. I absolutely loved directing the pageants and taking our queens to the Miss Florida pageant….very happy memories. And Sandy was amazing!

  • Ron Zifer

    Congratulations Joy Ellen Reutimann.
    We are so proud of you.

  • Nancy Wise Pye

    I had the honor of serving as Miss Zephyrhills in 1974. It was so much fun representing my home town on floats for parades in the Tampa Bay area, throwing out first pitch, bicycle campaign and much more. Zephyrhills will always hold such a special place in my heart and memories!

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