Dorothy Newell Rice crowned 2019 Lady Liberty 

From left to right are Mary Ellen Jones, Dorothy Newell Rice, Wanda Raines and Edith Davis. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Ten of the loveliest ladies in Cullman County competed lasts week at Westminster Assisted Living for the title of Lady Liberty 2019. This is the first year for the pageant, and although the ladies admitted to being a bit nervous, all were exquisite as they competed in their beautiful gowns. 

Dorothy Newell Rice was selected by the judges as Lady Liberty. Edith Davis and Mary Ellen Jones tied for first runner-up. All the pageant contestants had a wonderful time and especially enjoyed and appreciated the cheers from the standing room-only crowd as they worked to impress the judges. The ladies were escorted to the stage by Delbert Freeman, Ronnie Jean, Royce Jean, Brad Smith and Louis Price. 

The contestants included:

Joyce Sparks- Her interests include country music, collecting dolls and Christmas lights.

Barbara Flack- a gospel singer, talented pianist, and dancer who enjoys Elvis, Johnny Cash and The Beach Boys

Della Starkey- With a master’s degree in English, she worked as an editor on Redstone Arsenal and brags about the time John F. Kennedy and Neil Armstrong kissed her cheek. 

Wynelle Duke- A retired teacher from Holly Pond, she loves being outside, enjoying the birds and clouds. She also enjoys yawning during her daily exercises.

Edith Davis- She loves gospel music, her family, trips to the beauty shop and outdoor strolls. Her favorite phrase is “You ain’t right!”

Viva Johnson- Her talents include cooking and imitating bird whistles. She also loves her family, music and dancing. 

Juanita Hunt- A member of Mt. Vernon Primitive Baptist Church, she is proud of her family and enjoys playing Scrabble with her niece. 

Landalean Jean- A Holly Pond native and gifted pianist, she is able to play by ear and enjoys entertaining her Westminster neighbors. She also enjoys gardening and sewing. 

Dorothy Newell Rice- She met the love of her life in 1947, she is a Cullman native and a retired cosmetologist. She is often described as the “life of the party.”

Mildred Terrell- She is a retired school teacher who taught for more than 40 years in Cullman County. She loves playing dominoes, sewing and embroidery. She has been a member of First Baptist Church in Cullman since 1964.

Mary Ellen Jones- A graduate of the University of Alabama, she is a retired English teacher and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Even though she is 88, she said, “I feel like a spring chicken.”

After the show, family and friends posed for pictures with the participants. The Tribune caught up with the new Ms. Lady Liberty as she posed for pictures with her beautiful flowers and sparkling tiara.

Said Rice, “I had a great time. We all did.” 

Westminster Executive Director Wanda Raines hopes to have Rice in this year’s Cullman County Fair Parade. Upon hearing that, Rice joked about practicing her “parade wave.” Raines was pleased with the success of the pageant and said she hopes it becomes a yearly tradition. 

The pageant was coordinated by Ashley Uptagrafft and Anita Whitlock. All the contestants spent the morning being pampered and having hair and makeup done by the glam team of Jeanette Speegle and Charity Knight. Some of the beauties wore their own gowns and others wore gowns provided to them by The Better Store of Hanceville and Better Than Before. 

Hunt loved the dress chosen for her, saying, “We had the option to buy the dresses so I did. I plan on wearing it to church on Sunday.”

The pageant was emceed by the 2019 West Point Fair Queen Miriam Oldacre and Miss Sweet Elite Minnie Perry. Judging the pageant were Bethony Sterling, Teresa Cook, Nancy Graves and Kim Allred. 

Uptagrafft said, “We had so many vendors that provided us with everything we needed. I thank everyone for making this so successful.”

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Christy Perry