|Graham's Jeanne Robertson to pass down Miss N.C.
Achievement award, exhibit at museum will honor humorist
by Charity Apple, Times-News
|RALEIGH - At first, humorist Jeanne Swanner Robertson thought it was a joke.
Robertson laughed, that jovial sound so many Alamance County audiences have come
to love, until she realized the voice on the other end of the line was serious.
It was an official at the Miss North Carolina scholarship pageant, calling to inform Robertson she would receive the 2003 Woman of Achievement Award. And for one of the first times in her life, the former Miss North Carolina was speechless.
|"I was blown away," Robertson said in a telephone interview from Raleigh.
But wait, there was more.
Since there is no reigning Miss North Carolina due to the court battle involving 2002 winner Rebekah Revels and Misty Clymer, Robertson was asked to present the crown during the 66th annual scholarship pageant, to be held Saturday at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. The 59-year-old Robertson, who won the title 40 years ago, is excited about the chance to crown Miss North Carolina 2003.
"I can't help but see all of the humor in this. I've been dieting," she said
with a laugh. "And I've put Vaseline on my teeth. If I could only remember where
I put them."
Like many former contestants, she was saddened by the bad publicity surrounding the 2002 pageant. Revels relinquished the 2002 crown following a topless photo scandal, and Clymer represented the state during the Miss America pageant.
"The pageant was hurt by it," she said. "Just like Sammy Sosa and baseball has been hurt by the corked bat incident. But they won't cancel baseball because of it and thankfully, they won't cancel the pageant. There's too many people doing things the right way."
The contestants, mostly college students, average a 3.85 grade point average. For young women like Andrea Cameron, a sophomore at Elon University and a pageant contestant who is Miss Raleigh, Robertson said this provides an "excellent chance to showcase talent and win scholarship monies." Cameron, a music theater major, and Robertson met for the first time Wednesday.
And for girls like her, Robertson shares
"During my reign as Miss North Carolina, I was able to make more than 500
public appearances," she said. "All at the age of 19. You can't buy that
kind of experience."
This year's pageant is recognizing all of the "good things" Robertson has done in the past 40 years by honoring Graham, her hometown. The pageant program has two pages of photos documenting Robertson's win. And the 27 contestants will be donating children's books to the Graham Public Library, as part of their community service projects, in Robertson's honor.
During the past two days Robertson and a
number of county library employees have been driving to Raleigh to collect
the books from contestants and their friends and families.
Each contestant, Robertson said, has also
been asked to describe why this book is meaningful to her. One contestant
forgot to bring a children's book, but her adult selection was accepted,