Directors of the Miss Virginia pageant hope to locate them soon so they can be included in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Miss Virginia Scholarship Organization.
"I've actually been able to find quite a few," says Nancy Lucy, a Richmond resident and volunteer with the organization. She won the Miss Virginia title in 1993. Volunteers searching the Internet and phone books located many of the 25 whose whereabouts were at first unknown. Now, "we've located all but one in the last 50 years since we've been in Roanoke," says Steve Musselwhite, co-executive director of the pageant. That one is Paige Brown, a runner-up who became Miss Virginia in 1978 to take the place of Kylene Barker, who won the Miss America title.
Twenty remain missing as of last week, however. "It was a very grassroots organization at that time," says Lucy, and many records from the early days have been lost. Of course, it's likely that some may have died, she says. "You kind of cross your fingers."
Organizers want to include as many titleholders as possible in an hour-long "Miss Virginia Revue" to precede the broadcast of the competition in June. The show will feature former Miss Virginias displaying the talents that helped win their titles or simply sharing stories of pageants past.
Musselwhite would like to arrange for them all to come to the Hotel Roanoke, where the pageant takes place each year, to sign autographs and be recognized. But, he says, he'll understand if "some of them may not be so happy about standing next to a picture from 30 years ago."
Beverly Young, who was Miss Virginia 1982 and is now the principal of Cool Spring Elementary School in Mechanicsville, has no such qualms. She'll be there in Roanoke with the rest, she says, and plans to sing in the revue. People still recognize her sometimes even 21 years after her victory, Young says. "I think it follows you forever."
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