Queen’s Reign was 54 Years in the Making

By Barbara Carmen

The beauty queen smears petroleum jelly on her teeth.

“Helps the smile,” she said, a hint of Kentucky girlhood lingering in her voice.  Her lips never stick to her teeth. 

And she heats her eyelash curler with a blow-dryer.  “A little trick Oprah taught me before a show, but you’ve got to be careful or you’ll burn.”

Donna Hazle Glanzman’s got the makeup:  tubes of goop fill a tackle box.  She’s got the wardrobe:  beaded gowns pack a closet in her Northwest side home. 

She’s got the walk and the talk—and gets the gawk.  But this blue-eyed, size-4 blonde is no routine queen.

Not that promoting world peace isn’t important, but Glanzman stands for inner peace.

Any woman who ever scrubbed a kitchen floor at midnight, muttering “Hey, Cinderella, when’s the fairy tale begin?” can identify.

She once was divorced, out of work and a single mom of three.  But guess who’s got the tiara now?

“I won!” she said, rejoicing as she left a voice mail about “a new trend in pageants”.

“I’m 54,” she explained.  “I am the first Ms. Ohio Senior Queen.”

She won the crown in Akron on May 18.

Indeed, senior pageants are becoming hot.  Akron’s pageant joins at least three others, held in Biloxi, Miss.; Fall River, Mass.; and Dubuque, Iowa.

One online seniors magazine featured a contestant from Texas—sponsored by the Abilene Office on Aging—who cited an interest in floral arrangements and listed her grandchildren among her accomplishments.

Other senior queens have dazzled judges with talent.  From Betty Boop impersonators to back-flipping grannies, these ladies prove that self-esteem doesn’t wane with estrogen levels.

Contests have gotten an ugly rap since women’s lib and, more recently, JonBenet Ramsey.  But a swimsuit stroll for college money seems a better-than-fair trade.  And no one screams “sexist” when guys with oiled muscles strut at bodybuilding contests.

Glanzman, for the record, doesn’t strut. She holds a master’s degree in English and secondary education.  And she didn’t have to wear a swimsuit.

Of course, Glanzman doesn’t look 54 any more than the woman she beat for the crown looked 71.

For Glanzman, the competitions are about pushing herself to be her best.  They’re also about spoiling herself—a little, at last.

Now remarried to a successful entrepreneur—Gary Glanzman, who runs a plumbing-supplies business—she lives in a beautiful home and enjoys their grown children and little grandchildren.

“I had years where I was living for other people, working, raising my daughters,” she said.

This is her time.  She’s having a blast.  In 2001 and 2002, she won runner-up titles in the Mrs. Ohio America pageant and the Mrs. Ohio United States competitions.

“But I kept losing to 25-year-olds,” she said.

So she trained harder.

The public-relations specialist—she has landed bosses on Oprah and network news shows--approached the pageants professionally, beginning with research.

She found out where national winners buy their gowns and drove to that Canton shop.  She hired a trainer and whittled off two dress sizes. And she consulted a pageant specialist to learn how to swivel and smile. 

Then, to prepare for judges’ questions, she looked deep within herself, asking what she’s accomplished in life.

The introspection, the physical conditioning and the chance to make new friends were the best prizes, she said.

“When I finally won Ms. Senior, a guy who’s been to all the pageants came up to me afterward and said, ‘Well, you can stop now’”.

Glanzman told him, “I have gained so much, whether I won or not.”

She may be done with contests, but there’s no stopping her now.

From: The Columbus Dispatch, May 27, 2003