As a continuation of our ‘Founder’s Day’ theme coverage of school news, we would like to share some additional recollections of this event. Founder’s Day has encompassed the Miss Zephyrhills pageant throughout most of its 99 year history. It was a privilege for all 49 of the gals who held the title. We contacted as many as we could locate to ask them to share the year’s experiences and here are some of the reflections that we received:
Diana Kennedy, Miss Zephyrhills of 1978: “Zephyrhills- the place where I grew up…I will always love Zephyrhills and the community environment. I was very proud to represent Zephyrhills and I know the experience made me feel like Miss America. I remember being involved in the community throwing out the first baseball and attending parades. Of all the titles I held, representing my hometown was the most rewarding. I started competing at the age of 11 or 12 and stopped at age 17. My pageant wardrobe was not expensive…we borrowed dresses and my mother sewed many of my outfits. Some were from Goodwill…my mother would go to the store and buy an old dress, do her magic with beads and sequins and ‘Voila, my new dress!’ At first I was embarrassed because so many of the girls had fancy expensive party dresses and mine were homemade, but later I realized it did not matter where the dress came from!
My mother was a majorette so I wanted to be one too! Some of my cherished memories at ZHS was Friday night football games and marching with the band. I played the saxophone and was a majorette. C. Paul Steuart was the ZHS Band Director; we were awesome! My mother was the director of the Miss Zephyrhills pageant for five years and I directed it in 2008 and 2009.”
Note that Diane had a modeling career with the Dott Burns Modeling Agency and did several print ads for department stores, TV commercials and a role in a training film for the U.S. Army.
Diane added, “I kept all the trophies for many years in the attic at my father’s house. Recently my sister and I went through them, laughed about our experiences and the dilapidated condition of our once prized trophies and then we took them to the dump!”
Lynn Nichols, Miss Zephyrhills of 1960: Here are my memories of the pageant night … “Since the contest was a bathing suit contest, I had NO desire to be a participant, being very shy and parading in front of a crowd in a bathing suit did not seem like a good idea to me! Some community organizer of the event, tried to convince me to run. Originally I said no, but I was a USF student at the time and my roommate encouraged me to be a contestant, telling me what a great experience it would be and she offered me her beautiful white and black bathing suit. With that offer, I couldn’t resist. After my walk across the stage, I shook for at least 5 minutes. ZHS Coach Wilson and his little son were at the event. His son and I were “buddies”, so after I was crowned and left the stage, he ran to me and someone snapped the photo. I was shocked that I had won, but it was a great night! I was sorry that I never took advantage of the prize of a modeling course that went to the first place winner. I was too busy studying!”
A couple of historical columns…many veteran Zephillians will enjoy the many businesses of year’s past…
Nineteen to Compete for Miss Zephyrhills, Zephyrhills News, March 1961
Nineteen girls will compete for the title of Miss Zephyrhills in the beauty contest to be held during the 1961 Founders’ Day festival. Included are: Miss Margaret Ann Johnson, sponsored by Kaylor Hardware; Miss Bonnie Rannald, Neukom’s Drug Store; Miss Sandra White, Pasco Oil Company; Miss Delores Braxton, Scotty’s City Drug Store; Miss Barbara Higginson, Zephyrhills Garden Club; Miss Melissa Lippincott, Zephyrhills Junior Women’s Club; Miss Dena Shannon, Siesta Motel; Miss Delores Jones, Hotel Zephyr; Miss Susan Nichols, Bank of Zephyrhills; Miss Vera Griffin, Cunningham’s Furniture Store; Miss Carolyn Maddux, Thriftway; Miss Brenda Daughtery, Griffin’s 66 Service Station; Miss Ann Fazio, VFW Auxiliary; Miss Susan Gill, Zephyrhills Home Demonstration Club; Miss Bobbie June Chambless, Rainbow Girls; Nell Odom, Sibley Lumber Company; Oleta Price, Zephyrhills Freezette; Linda Loysch, Reutimann Chevrolet; Mary Ann Bialik, Florida Trailer Estates. Mrs. Robert Ahrens is chairman of the beauty queen contest.
Founder’s Day Leaders Named to Crown Queen, Zephyrhills News, March 1956
P.H. Murphy, Jr. is chairman of the Founder’s Day celebration. Founder’s Davis is sponsored by the Zephyrhills Lions Club. An innovation at the Founder’s Day will be a beauty contest, at which “Miss Zephyrhills” will be selected and crowned. Serving in various capacities included: Charles A. Moore as master of ceremonies, F.H. Gupsolus as parade marshal and Vincent Peel, finance. The winners were Queen: Lenore Lincoln and two princesses, Virginia Edgeman and Wanda Hazelwood with ladies in waiting being named as Elizabeth Cutshall, Mary Ann Hodges, Delilah Johnson and Shirley Potter.
One final note about royalty…
There have been several ZHS students, who have held the crown of ‘Miss Pasco’, many of whom were first Miss Zephyrhills. We want to make sure and trace this historical lineage as well and would not want to exclude these terrific ZHS alumni. Notably, ZHS students, Debby Bacon and Lorna Riopelle, who held several titles, come to mind. Debby is quite well known for her musical recordings in the Tampa Bay area, and Lorna directed pageants and served as a pageant coach for many years. Here is our list of historical ‘Miss Pasco.’ .
1950-Lula Mae Nix
1953-Mary Louise Gasque
1954-Kathryn Louise Seltzer
1955-Mary Jane Cheek
1965-Jo Ann Roberts
1971-Terri Ann Rickard
1972- Bonnie Sue Sabo
1974-Karen Marie Milton
1975-Janice Mary Notaro
1976-Paige M. Brown
1977- Susan Eldridge
1978- Debby Bacon
1979-Leigh Ann Edwards
1982-Leslie Diane Herrmann
1983-Angela Ann Helm
1985 & 1988- Dallas Wheeler
1986- Julie Greenless
1987- Lorna Riopelle
1990- Darlene Johnson
1991-Leslie Michelle Nikolai
1992-Aleda Kruse Henry
1993- Tammy Myers & Tawnya Booker
1997 & 2001-Jennifer Feeney
1999-Kristeen Tiffanee Hendricks
2000-Jennifer Feeney & Shannon Schambeau
We would, again, welcome recollections and additions to our history. Enjoy the memories!
All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise