On the runway again
Brittiny Dunlap, Staff Writer
June 19, 2003
Jeanne Swanner Robertson, Miss North Carolina 1963, will be in the
limelight again this weekend as she accepts the 2003 Woman of Achievement
award at the state's pageant. Now a nationally-recognized humorist, who
won the "Miss Congeniality" designation in the 1963 Miss America Pageant,
she will also crown the new Miss North Carolina during Saturday's
In 1963, Jeanne Swanner strolled down the runway of the Miss North
Carolina pageant and brought the crown home to Graham. Now, 40 years
later, she returns to the same stage to receive the 2003 Woman of
The North Carolina Pageant Organization will present Jeanne Swanner
Robertson with the award on Saturday from the stage of Memorial Auditorium
in Raleigh at this year's Miss North Carolina state pageant.
Robertson will also be crowning the winner of this year's Miss North
Carolina pageant. Contest judges designated Robertson to fulfill the
duties due to the conflict over who is the reigning Miss North Carolina.
In honor of her achievement, the Graham Public Library Children's Division
will receive children's books given in Robertson's name by the 2003
contestants of the Miss North Carolina Pageant and by the 2003 Carolina
Princesses. Robertson will also be honored July 13 by the Graham
Historical Society with an exhibit in the town museum dedicated to her
year as Miss North Carolina.
At 6'2", Robertson was the tallest contestant to compete in the Miss
America Pageant and was named Miss Congeniality. "I begged them to let me
shoot hook shots for the talent part of the Miss America contest,"
Robertson said in a USA Today interview. "But they wouldn't let me.
Later I realized shy. Couldn't you just see the headlines if I was
chosen: ‘Hooker Wins!'"
July 27, 1963 was Jeanne Swanner Day in Graham and Mayor Myron Rhyne read
a proclamation on the Court House steps as Swanner, who had been crowned
Miss North Carolina, looked on. Swanner competed in the
pageant in Atlantic City, and was chosen as Miss Congeniality.
During her reign and Miss North Carolina, Robertson toured all over North
Carolina speaking on a daily basis at pageants, civic clubs and
corporation. When her reign was over, people were still calling Robertson
and asking her to speak.
Robertson grew up in Graham with her mother and father. Her
father chaired the local school board and later owned Green's Fuel
Gas Company. By the age of 13, Robertson had already reached
her 6'2" stature. She went on to play basketball at Graham
High School averaging 30 points a game her junior and senior years.
Robertson went on to receive a degree at Auburn University and
taught physical education in high school and college for nine years.
However, during those nine years requests for her to speak
continued. In 1976, Robertson stopped teaching and entered the
field of professional speaking.
Robertson's speeches specialize in humor based on her life
experiences. She has spoken to companies across the country.
Among Robertson's highest honors are: the Golden Gavel Award,
Auburn's Woman Entrepreneur of the year 2000, North Carolinian of
the Year from the North Carolina Press Association (2001) and she
was the first woman to receive the Cavett Award, the most
prestigious award in her profession.
In addition to speaking, Robertson has tried her hand at writing and
published three books: Humor: The Magic of Genie, Mayberry Humor Across
the USA, and Don't Let the Funny Stuff Get Away.
When not traveling 10 months out of the year, Robertson lives in
Burlington with her husband Jerry. They have one son, Beaver, who is
married to Dayna and two grandsons.
Reprinted with permission from The Alamance News