Karen Potts, a former member of a theater group, won the 2013 Ms. Senior Golden Years crown Saturday in front of a capacity crowd at the Saddle West Hotel and Casino.
Potts, an Illinois native who lived in San Diego before moving to Pahrump in January, was in the theater for 28 years with the Rhythmaire Players and sang for the National Basketball Association team the San Diego Rockets in 1968.
She won the talent competition, riveting the crowd in her operatic voice singing the song “Memories” from the musical “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“It feels absolutely fabulous but I was so shocked, I don’t know what to say,” Potts said after her coronation. “I was so nervous when I came out tonight I thought ‘I can’t remember past the first two words.’”
Potts pledged in her platform to serve Pahrump residents in their final days as a volunteer for Nathan Adelson Hospice.
Her role as Ms. Senior Golden Years already includes visits to senior centers and nursing homes, the governor’s ball in Carson City and of course, the ribbon cuttings, as a representative of senior citizens who attempts to instill senior pride.
“During my recent experience as a caretaker for seven years and with hospice with a loved one, I know there is a beginning and there is an end,” Potts said.
“Life is about living but death is not the final end, without taking care of the patients and hospice is absolutely wonderful in that aspect. I’m hoping that through volunteering to be a Golden Monarch, I can make a difference with the seniors here in Pahrump,” Potts said during the evening gown competition in which contestants recite their platforms.
The first runner-up was Karen Thomas, a former AT&T cable splicer, installer repairman and field dispatcher in Illinois who was a co-founder of Secret Sisters Boutique with Sharon Tate and Autumn Cole in 2006 after moving to Pahrump. She won the interview competition.
Elizabeth Wilson was the second runner-up, who was voted Miss Congeniality by the other six contestants.
Margarita Sheldon won the bathing suit competition, in which contestants modeled antique bathing suits complete with bloomers. Sheldon wore her grandmother’s red suit dating back to the 1920s, along with a bathing cap.
Donna Herrick won for best platform, a two-part program.
“The first part of my platform will be to bring entertainment to all the elderly facilities in Pahrump,” Herrick said. “The second part of my platform is the school-age children who go home on a regular basis with nothing to eat here in Pahrump. It really breaks your heart there are so many. My plan is to join forces with the schools. There is a plan already in effect. But I’ll be collecting non-perishable items and make sure they’re distributed to these children so that when they go home on the weekend or weekday they’ll have something to eat.”
Dawn Dona won for best evening gown. She performed her talent competition to “Every Baby Needs a Dad Dad Daddy,” in a full length, high slit black dress.
A different performer, Dondino replaced the familiar crooner Al Rios, who retired. He has performed in numerous charity events: the MDA Telethon, Variety, the Children’s Charity of Iowa, Special Olympics, Nite of the Stars at Caesar’s Palace, St. Jude’s Ranch for Children and the National AIDS Concert in Palm Springs as well as his own Read To Me Foundation.
Other guest entertainment included singer Rhonda Van Winkle, a teenage girl group The Unicorns and Tom Saitta, a local car dealer and musician.
In her parting statement, Earlene Caldon, Ms. Senior Golden Years 2012, said it was a wonderful experience and a blessing. She thanked the pageant organizers, the queen’s court, board of directors, the Nevada Silver Tappers and the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce who supported their goodwill ambassador missions.
“Through our combined efforts we gave meaningful impacts in our community reaching out to patients at Desert View Hospital, the Beehive (Assisted Living Center) and Evergreen Rehabilitation Center especially during the holiday seasons; representing Pahrump at parades and going to the governor’s mansion, just to mention a few. I cannot forget the families with children whom we gave hope and goodwill every week with food. I am truly humbled by the citizens of Pahrump.”