By Jordan Houston
At 27, Patricia Person vowed to never compete in a beauty pageant again. The California native recalls the moment she was announced the winner of a local competition, only to have the title stripped from her seconds later.
“They called me as the winner, and as I was walking on the stage, happy with a big smile, they retracted it,” she recounts. Now, the 64-year-old finally got her moment of glory — and on a much larger stage.
In September, Person was crowned the 2022 Ms. Senior Arizona at the Cameo Foundation’s 32nd annual pageant at the Vista Center for the Performing Arts in Surprise. The nonprofit organization refrained from crowning 2020 and 2021 title holders due to COVID-19-related obstacles.
“This time, when they called my name, I was looking around like, ‘Let me wait, I don’t want this to be a repeat,’” Person said with a laugh. The mother of three also earned herself the Most Elegant recognition.
Open only to women 60 and above, Ms. Senior Arizona is more than just a “beauty contest.” The pageant honors the “Age of Elegance” by embodying the motivation and inspiration of senior women, grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
The nonprofit organization strives to offer older women a platform to showcase their achievements, talents and values, while reenforcing the importance of self-worth, inner beauty and charm.
“I am feeling proud, excited and happy,” says Person, an activity coordinator at MorningStar Assisted Living and Memory Care. “I wanted to win. I practiced to win, but I was still shocked.”
Contestants must live in Arizona for at least three months prior to the state contest and are judged on four categories: their philosophies of life, judges’ interviews, evening gown presentations and talent.
Person, who grew up in Los Angeles and frequently modeled in local fashion shows, says she adheres to her philosophy of life, “Live until you die,” every day.
“When I was in California, I was robbed at gunpoint,” recalls Person, who now lives in Mesa. “After I was robbed, I was afraid everywhere I went. I was scared, skittish, and when I went to the store, everybody looked suspicious.
“I just woke up one day and said, ‘I’m just going to live my life until I die and carry on and be cautious, but I can’t walk around and be scared of every single thing.’”
It’s safe to say that Person, an original “Soul Train” dancer and Zumba instructor, has embodied that promise to live her life to the fullest.
Person went on to work for Boeing in various capacities for almost 40 years. She simultaneously earned a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in marketing at the University of Phoenix.
Now, she balances her time at the Fountain Hills assisted living facility with operating her own hot dog catering business, LA Hot Dog Catering Service. Person is proud of not only her title of Arizona’s Ms. Senior queen but as a woman of color title holder as well.
For her talent, Person paid tribute to Bessie Coleman, the first African American and first Native American woman pilot, according to the National Women’s History Museum. The 64-year-old performed a dramatization of Coleman’s story from her “successes to her demise,” she explains.
“It made me feel great,” Person says. “It makes me feel like what she did wasn’t lost and I kind of brought her back around, in a way, to make me feel better and to let people know how courageous and brave she was. It was sort of full circle, if you will.”
A caregiver by nature, Person adds that she is looking forward to working with the Cameo Foundation, a national organization of previous pageant contenders.
The local nonprofit works to provide resources to arm its members with the needed expertise and self-confidence to maximize their potential. It also funnels fundraising proceeds to support survivors of domestic violence.
“I want to use my title to go around to different facilities and let them know I am part of the Cameo club and that we want to help those that have been hurt by domestic violence,” Person explains.
The Cameo Foundation showcases performances for nursing homes, veterans’ and children’s hospitals, schools, senior citizen centers, fairs, and other community and charitable organizations.
Person is also gearing up to compete in nationals next year.
The Ms. Senior America pageant, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to enriching not only “the lives of seniors” but also to encourage them to “tap their energy to enrich the lives of others,” is slated to take place in September in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
“I’m feeling very good,” Person says. “Me winning the title here has built my confidence, but I’m going against all of the winners. I like to say I’m competing with them because all of the ladies are so nice and friendly.”
Person will continue to work with her coach, Kim Anderson, to finetune her skills before the big day.
For more information about Ms. Senior Arizona, visit its website at
msseniorarizona.com. To learn more about the Cameo Foundation, head over to cameofoundation.org.