Front Row L-R: Contestant, Teri Nehrenz; Contestant May Paliganoff; First Runner Up, Diana McKinney; 2019 Ms. Senior Mesquite, Ann Murphy; Second Runner Up and Ms. Congeniality, Julie Hoffman; Contestant, Linda Darling. Photo by Jim Lavendar
Back Row L-R: Clint Bostwick, Usher, Jack Laird, MC; Mark Guertin, MC; Charlie Hospadura, Usher; Maury Hardman, Usher. Photo by Jim Lavendar

The Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant took place on Saturday, April 27. Six women walked on to the stage already winners in their own rights but only one received the crown and title of Ms. Senior Mesquite, that one woman was Ann Murphy.

Murphy doesn’t need to wear a crown; anybody who meets her can instantly tell she is truly a queen. Murphy is everything that embodies the quintessence of Ms. Senior Mesquite.

Murphy is as warm, gracious and regal as any queen should and will be. She is active in her community, encouraging to others, volunteers with several local organizations, teaches yoga and at past 70 years of age, continues to educate herself on fitness.

Murphy grew up on a small rural farm in Wisconsin and can’t imagine life without dogs, horses and her beloved cat, Koko.  Murphy lived in Mesquite from 2000-2005 when she and her husband almost singlehandedly built their retirement dream home. Murphy’s husband passed away in 2006 and she returned to the Mesquite; she absolutely loves being a “Desert Rat.”

Upon entering the pageant, women are sometimes challenged to find their talent, with first runner up Dianna McKinney, her struggle was finding just one talent to highlight; there were too many to choose from but she finally settled on just three leaving the plethora of other talents in the dust. McKinney show cased her singing, choreography and acting talents. Her  musical talents include playing the clarinet and piano among other things.

McKinney currently plays the clarinet with the Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra and is vice president of the Virgin Valley Theater Group. Her new passion is playing with her “furever” friend Picao (Peek-a-Boo). If her little white “fur baby” isn’t under her arm or in the passenger seat, ask her for a picture, the cell phone is handy and has plenty.

Second runner up, Julie Hoffman also took the much-honored title of Ms. Congeniality; this vote and title comes directly from her fellow contestants and goes to the woman whom they regard as the most pleasant or kind among the competitors. Ms. Congeniality possesses impressive inner beauty and embodies other very admirable character traits; Hoffman was certainly all that and much more.

Having worked toward her dream job of being a kindergarten teacher, Hoffman took her teaching degree to the Wind River Indian Reservation where she taught for 23 years while also obtaining a master’s degree in education. During her time on the reservation, Hoffman learned the native language and used that for her talent. Speaking first in native Shoshone then in English and dressed in authentic buckskin attire, Hoffman told the history of Sacagawea who translated native languages and  led the Lewis and Clark Expedition across the west in search for a route to the Pacific Ocean.

All six contestants now look forward to the day their hard work pays off and the real win comes for the charity of their choosing.

Each year the Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant contestants sell advertising for their program as part of their contestant responsibilities. The money collected from the sale of the ads goes to charity; specifically, the non-profit organizations that exist in Mesquite. Each contestant can give their share of the money collected to the organization/organizations of their choosing.

As of the 2018 pageant the Ms. Senior Mesquite contestants have collectively raised and donated approximately $50,000 to local non-profit groups.

The Ms. Senior Mesquite organization believes that it takes all kinds of women, who play many roles in their community, to keep that community healthy and thriving.

Keeping with the definition of the word health – “being in the highest state of physical, mental, emotional and social well-being,” says it all. Each of the groups from We Care for Animals to the Mesquite Cancer Help Society has some extremely valuable benefits to the community.

Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant participants and the 2019 Queen, Ann Murphy, along with her court are grateful to all business and residents who help support them in keeping Mesquite a healthy community.

Ms. Senior Mesquite would also like to say, “Thank you,” to Clark County Printing & Mailing for the layout and printing of the program books and all the volunteers behind the scenes who make the pageant a success; there are too many to mention.