At 80 years old, Harriet Leverett excitedly shared the spotlight Dec. 5 with girls about one-quarter her age.
The reigning 2009 Ms. Senior Georgia-Carolina, a title she earned in September, was featured in the Grovetown city parade when she rode in the back of a convertible.
"I'm going to have all that (crown and sash), waving and blowing kisses," Mrs. Leverett said prior to the parade.
But her ride in the parade was the cap on a hectic and exciting few weeks in the Leveretts' Grovetown home.
Mrs. Leverett's 80th birthday was Thanksgiving Day, and she and her husband, Douglas, combined that with the celebration surrounding the renewal of their wedding vows the following day at Thankful Baptist Church in Augusta.
"It has been a good year for us," Mr. Leverett, 80, said. "Her birthday (was) on Thanksgiving. Mine came on Easter Sunday. I got a hole in one two weeks ago. Everything is going good."
About 80 people gathered at the church for the celebration.
"It was just marvelous," Mrs. Leverett said. "It turned out to be really nice. We had a big, big crowd."
There is no trick or secret to a long, happy union, said the Leveretts, who have been married for 60 years. It is all about being committed to facing the world as a team.
"You took a vow to God," Mrs. Leverett said. "I'm spiritual about what I do. ... If things don't go right, you turn to him."
There is one key ingredient to a happy, lifelong marriage, Mrs. Leverett said.
"True love," she said. "You've got to love a person enough to put up with some of the things they do."
The couple started dating in 1947 and married in 1949 in Augusta. Because of Mr. Leverett's service in the U.S. Air Force and subsequent jobs, the couple spent about 50 years traveling the country and the world. They've lived in five countries, including France, Turkey and Iran.
During their travels, they continually supported each other's ventures.
Mrs. Leverett said when she heard about the Ms. Senior Georgia-Carolina pageant she immediately knew she wanted to be a part of it. She competed in 2008 and again this year, when she won the tiara.
The pageant promotes "positive aging" by exemplifying elegance, grace, maturity and dignity. Contestants showcase themselves as active, energetic, dynamic women who encourage others to stay active and dispel fears associated with aging.
In the pageant, Mrs. Leverett earned all of the event's highest honors -- evening gown, her singing performance of I Believe as well as the queen's crown.
Though her husband was getting tired from the hectic rehearsal schedule, she wouldn't leave the pageant until it concluded.
"I didn't want to leave just because I didn't win, because he's tired," Mrs. Leverett said. "I won, so now I feel good about it."
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