Apr 13, 2009

Oxford's Mildred Shegog wins top honors in state's Ms. Senior Pageant

It was a momentous occasion in Jackson Saturday night for Mildred Stapleton O'Brian Shegog.

The 82-year-old Oxford senior citizen walked off with the Ms. Senior Mississippi crown, the eighth winner from Yoknapatawpha County in the pageant's 30-year history.

The Ms. Senior Mississippi pageant is held every year to celebrate "the vigor and beauty of our state's greatest natural resource, the elderly."

This is the second year Shegog has entered the pageant. Escorted by an entourage from the Van Buren Book Club, Shegog traveled to Jackson with plenty of friendly support.

"Most of my family has passed," Shegog explained. "I have a son and a daughter, three granddaughters and a grandson, but they live so far away. My friends here in Oxford are good family to me."

Shegog moved to Oxford 15 years ago after the death of her husband, Walter O'Brian.

"We used to visit Oxford when we were young, and we absolutely loved it," Shegog said. "My relatives lived here as well, so there's always been a sense of home for me in Oxford."

Despite her lack of family nearby, Shegog has kept busy with various activities such as gardening, reading, sewing, cooking and volunteering at the public library. She also enjoys bicycling and walking at the Oxford Mall, where she has organized a club called the Golden-Heeled Mall Walkers.

"Instead of feeling lonely and sorry for myself, I decided to get out there and take hold of what life continues to offer me," Shegog said. "I feel almost as good as I did in the days when my husband and I used to travel the globe excavating archaeology sites."

The judges at the Ms. Senior Mississippi pageant were no doubt impressed by Shegog's active social life and go-get-em spirit.

"Mildred was easily the prettiest woman on stage that night," said Marjorie Nelson, a friend and supporter who made the trip to Jackson. "She had on the loveliest blue satin dress with white shoes and a heart-shaped ruby necklace that glistened like her eyes. I tell you, we all live for this kind of joy!"

Shegog said she received a phone call from Senator Thad Cochran, who congratulated her on her win.

"He's a sweet man," Shegog recalled. "To think, a busy fellow like that taking time out to call me. Life is just getting better every day."

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