By Katie Morris


Originally published in the Gwinnett Daily Post on March 28, 2015. Reprinted with permission.



Spring may have sprung outside, but Life Care Center of Gwinnett [in Lawrenceville, Georgia] was a winter wonderland Friday afternoon.


The dining room glittered and glowed with silver streamers and blue twinkling lights as nine lovely ladies made their way to the front of the room to compete in the 10th Annual Ms. LCCG Pageant.


Dan Deffenall, activities director, served as master of ceremonies, along with co-host Stefin Corley, assistant activities director.


“Welcome to the Ms. Life Care 2015 Pageant ‘Frozen in Time.’ We have nine ladies that are excited to show you what they’ve got to prove: You don’t have to be young to be beautiful,” Daffenall said.


The contestants – Catherine Shearon, Amelia Camp, Jane Blackman, Maggie Watkins, Sheila Elgart, Dorothy Walden, Edwanna Byfus, Marilyn Lev and Gloria Broome – wore outfits they’d picked out during a shopping trip to Dress Barn and had their hair fixed and nails done for the pageant.


Ms. LCCG 2013, Nettie Hicks, and Ms. LCCG 2014, Cecillia Laniewicz, both had a front seat for the ceremony, and the ladies were joined by special guests: the reigning Miss Teen Gwinnett, Faith Chamlee, and (in spirit with the pageant’s theme) Princess Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen.”

Each contestant was interviewed, and many chose to share something special with the audience instead of answering a standard question. Some read touching poems, while others shared fond memories of their families and spouses.


After a short deliberation, the judges – Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson, Erin Coles of Dress Barn and Rochelle Yasine of Share Co. – awarded the title of Ms. LCCG to Lev, 86, who is now eligible to represent Life Care Center of Gwinnett at the Ms. Georgia Nursing Home Pageant in May.


It was easy to see Lev’s acting background as she smiled brightly and posed for pictures with ease. Before she was crowned, Lev offered a few words of wisdom for the younger generation: “When people ask your age, lie,” she said. “If you’re having a bad hair day, wear a hat.”