Melissa woman vying for Ms. Texas Senior
This year’s Ms. America may be living right here in Melissa. Next Saturday, Frances Richardson will compete against other contestants from across the state for the title of Ms. Texas Senior America. The winner of the July 24 contest will go on to the national pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey later this year.
The Ms. Texas Senior America pageant is a competition for women ages 60 and older. Richardson first heard about the event when she was 54 years old. She had never participated in a pageant but thought she might want to do it one day. It was a fleeting thought she didn’t think much about afterward until reading another article about the pageant years later. Now 74 years old, she decided to give it a shot in 2020. Of course, that competition was canceled due to the pandemic. Now at long last, she is excited to finally get her moment in the spotlight.
“It’s just like the regular Miss Texas Pageant. We just don’t do the bathing suit part,” she says. “Thank God for that.”
Contestants are ranked based on their interview with judges, philosophy of life and evening wear. There is also a talent competition. Richardson plans to recite the lyrics to the Richard Smallwood song “Faith.”
“I don’t sing, and I don’t dance- I have three left feet,” she jokes. “I’m a speaker.”
Many of the contestants have physical issues they must overcome. Richardson has glaucoma, which severely limits her peripheral vision. While she can no longer drive or read books, she is still able to cook and clean and do pretty much everything else she could do in her younger days.
By being in the pageant, she hopes to show other people that there is a place for senior women. Maybe someone else will be inspired to see what she can do and realize that they could also do that same thing. Her philosophy is that there is no “end” as long as you are living. Retirement doesn’t have to mean watching TV all day in a rocking chair.
“In the old days, you would see older women not do anything. They would sit at home and that was it,” she says. “That’s not me and that’s not a lot of other women.”
Richardson was born and raised in Dallas before moving around a bit when her husband was in the Air Force. The family eventually settled in Allen. She had a two-decade career working for cable companies before taking a position at Nordstrom. After 10 years there, she retired when her eyesight began to fail.
Seven years ago Richardson and her husband decided it was time to move again. Since their three children had grown up and moved out, there here was no need for their big two-story home. The Richardsons moved to Melissa where she quickly became involved in her neighborhood.
She’s part of a girlfriends group that includes women of all ages. She and her husband also love to travel. They’ve taken two trips to Europe and multiple cruises. The pandemic squashed their most recent vacation plans. However, they hope to resume their adventures once COVID-19 is more under control.
Richardson also remains active in New Mount Zion Baptist Church. She and her husband have been a part of the congregation for over 20 years, with him serving as an associate minister. Every year, the church hosts a Christmas celebration at the Dallas Doubletree Hotel. That just happens to be where the Ms. Texas Senior America Pageant will be held. Starting next week, Richardson will head to that familiar territory and begin preparations for her big event.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “I’m just like a little kid now ready for it to roll”