Newly crowned Ms. Havasu Senior Sue Marchbank, 70, has ties to Lake Havasu stretching back 60 years into her youth. Beginning when she was 8 years old, she’d travel with her family from Southern California to Havasu’s shores.
“I was born and raised in Victorville, Calif.,” Marchbank said Wednesday. “We’d come to Lake Havasu for spring breaks and every summer. My dad had a cabin-cruiser. It was pretty snazzy for its day.”
The school breaks and summers spent always left her and her family with a deep tan but things were much different back then. There was the Lake, but not much else.
“It’s not like it is now,” she said. “Site Six was here, and it already was the happening spot.”
The Southern California beauty recently returned to live in Lake Havasu City only six weeks ago after living many years in Brady, Texas. It was within the framework of the Ms. Havasu Senior pageant that she’d hoped to make a few new friends.
“I’m brand new here,” Marchbank said. “I was hoping to meet some gals my age. To expand my social circle and reinvent it, I sat there like a clam.”
The eight other contestants have become just that – new friends.
“What great gals, every one of them a queen,” she said. “They’re so friendly.”
Marchbank’s talent at the pageant this past Sunday was signing sign language to Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless America.” The talent coincides with her work as a special education teacher and working with deaf children for 17 years.
“I’ve always taught special education but the deaf and blind kids were truly special,” she said.
It was the philosophy portion of the pageant that was Marchbank’s favorite.
“I enjoyed hearing everyone else’s philosophies,” she said.
Her own philosophy question centered on what she believed mankind’s greatest invention to have been in her lifetime.
“There have been some great inventions and discoveries,” Marchbank said while recapping the philosophy for River Scene. “Cell phones, computers, space travel, and the ’57 Chevy. All of these things came about from somebody’s wildest imagination but in a country that not only allowed it but encouraged it … my philosophy was that the greatest accomplishment was the development and nurturing of the greatest country on the face of the Earth.”
The third segment of competition among the contestants was the evening gown competition, which had Marchbank choosing between three gowns. She said her biggest challenge in preparing for the pageant was how foreign the whole experience felt to her.
“What I was most impressed with, besides my escort Kendrick, he was so handsome, was the gals were so incredibly helpful, like (organizer) Gina, they were congenial and they made us all feel very comfortable.”
In the end, she still has the gowns and anticipates wearing them with her crown during appearances at some of Havasu’s upcoming events. For now, she is looking forward to her appearance with pageant runner-up Ann Archer during the London Bridge Days Parade, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. Oct. 29 on McCulloch Boulevard.
Marchbank was married to her late-husband Terry for 40 years. She was widowed 12 years ago. She has two daughters, one resides in Havasu and the other lives in New Mexico. She also has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. And, Marchbank has her trusted companion Max, a German Shepherd who loves daily outings to the dog park and to the Lake to go swimming.
“I almost want to cry,” Marchbank said. “This is so beautiful here, and I’ve been in some gorgeous parts of the world. I like this the best.”
With Marchbank settling in to stay, she said she hopes to work out climate challenges when it comes to her horticulture and gardening hobbies.
“Where I lived, it was green, lush and humid,” she said. “I had a rose garden to die for.”
Havasu Community Health’s 10th annual Ms. Havasu Senior Pageant is a fundraising event for ongoing efforts to provide women’s health programs to the community.
Her title carried a $1,000 donation grand prize, which she chose to have awarded to Disabled American Veterans. It is a charity that the Marchbanks continuously contributed to throughout their marriage, she said.
Other pageant contestants included Jeanie Morgan, Phyllis Barton, Pamela Freitas, Karen Fresh, Monika Heise, Donna Jones, Kathleen Lichtenberg, and Maria Rhodes. The pageant was at London Bridge Resort Convention Center.