Dr. Linda Ledbetter, 61, was crowned during the annual pageant recently conducted at the Roswell Cultural Center. During the next year, she will appear in parades and shows across Georgia promoting senior activity.
"We have got plenty to do if we choose to do it," she said of seniors.
She was discovered as a potential pageant candidate while performing at Senior Follies in Forsyth County. Some women who saw the show approached her and told her the Ms. Georgia Senior pageant was something she should be in.
"I looked into it and thought that it would be fun," she said about the pageant, which is open to all women in the state age 60 or older.
It was not the first time she had participated in a pageant. She was selected as Miss Cherokee in 1966 and was the sponsor of the Miss Forsyth pageant for many years.
For four days before the pageant, Ms. Ledbetter practiced for the event. She said there were some butterflies, but nothing she could not easily overcome.
"I'm a ham. I love to sing anywhere," she said about performing. "It might be hard for a person who is shy."
Ms. Senior Georgia participants are judged on talent, evening dress, an onstage question and their platform. For her talent, she sang "Someone to Watch Over Me."
Her platform was the importance of young people participating in government and to accept diversity and learn about every culture that they can. She picked that platform based on her years of teaching American government.
"I was shocked," she said winning. "The competition was very stiff. There were 14 women in it, and they were all very good."
She won $1,000, a trophy, roses and an assortment of gifts including picture frames, jewelry and clothes.
Ms. Ledbetter grew up east of Free Home near the Cherokee-Forsyth county line. She attended Cherokee High School.
"I loved it," she said about growing up in Cherokee County. "I got a good education."
She now lives in Cumming, and has three children and three grandchildren.
Ms. Ledbetter taught high school in Forsyth County for 26 years. She served as a county commissioner from 2004 to 2008. She resigned from teaching two years into her commissioner term to focus on politics.
"We had so much growth and so many problems," she said, noting she intended to go back to teaching, but her new position is keeping her too busy. She still plans to return to teaching after her reign as Ms. Georgia Senior is over.
"I got a lot of time invested in it," she said of teaching. "I like teaching school."