Inspired by many women and young ladies and to serve as an inspiration to others, Washington resident Kat Shaw, 60, hopes to participate in this year’s Ms. Missouri Senior pageant.
Shaw was invited by one of the directors to try out for the competition being held in February 2013. If she makes it through the audition, she would participate in the July competition. Ultimately, Shaw could have the opportunity to represent Missouri in the national competition, which will be held in October.
Shaw said one of her inspirations are the ladies of Red Hat Mamas, a group of senior women which she has been involved with for several years.
“I’ve gotten to know so many incredibly gifted, intelligent women, so pretty, who do so much with the community,” she said.
Shaw described the “Queen Bee” Nancy Bruder, as “stunningly beautiful.”
Another inspiration is Jackie Miller, who, like Shaw, is a piano teacher and involved with the Federation of Republican Women.
She also named Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy.
“Do you think there is a prettier mayor anywhere?,” she asked. “No, Sandy is it. She has beauty, brains and charm.”
Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door also inspires Shaw.
“If I could have a sister, she would be it,” Shaw said, adding that she is doing the competition in honor of those women.
“Last, but not least, would be a 10-year-old,” she said, “who is my sunshine and from whom I expect great things. . . Caroline Miller.”
Miller takes piano lessons from Shaw.
“Some day she’ll wear a crown, I know it,” Shaw said. “She is one of the most intelligent kids I’ve ever met.”
Shaw also mentioned the Washington Fair queens.
“Year after year look at the beautiful young women we have in Washington,” she said. “How could you not be inspired by that?”
Shaw said she has known about the Ms. Missouri Senior competition for at least 10 years.
“To compete is a real honor,” she said, “and not so easy.”
Last year, only 14 made the final cut. The queen continues to the national competition representing Missouri.
The Senior Ms. USA competition is held in Atlantic City, N.J.
Competitors have to be at least 60 years old, a Missouri resident and have a talent to perform.
Shaw said she was apprehensive about competing until she moved to Washington, where she met so many beautiful senior women.
Shaw said she’s always loved beautiful things and has never found it difficult to compliment things she thinks are pretty.
“I’ve never been an envious person,” she said, noting that often, those who are pretty are also beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.
“I just don’t think God makes ugly,” she said.
Shaw said she is most looking forward to the opportunity to participate in the competition and to meet such gifted women, even if she doesn’t win.
“What an exciting experience,” she said.
Though she’s never participated in a pageant, Shaw said she’s not nervous.
“That’s one of the best parts of being older. A lot of things that made you fearful when you were younger don’t anymore,” she said. “I think all women, in a sense, wear crowns. I think we have learned we can’t always win, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying.”
Shaw admitted that she struggled with turning 60 years old. She visited the Senior Miss Missouri website and commented on how beautiful the ladies were, which is when she was invited to participate in the pageant. Those who participate have to be invited.
“Forty wasn’t so bad, 50 was a little more difficult. Then you’re 60. It’s a little scary,” she said.
But after meeting many women in Washington and making friends, she said her attitude changed.
“I thought, ‘Yes! I can do 60!,’ ” she said.
Ms. Missouri co-state director summed up characteristics of the women who participate in the pageant.
“These are pretty impressive women,” Dehart said. “They are very bright, talented and intelligent women.”
Dehart said the competition reminds senior women that they still have something to contribute.
“(Senior women are) a force to be reckoned with,” she said, “now that the baby boomers (are becoming seniors).”
After auditions, those selected begin rehearsals. The contest features an interview on the contestant’s personal philosophy, an evening gown competition and a talent, that is about 2 ½ minutes long.
“The best thing, is there is no bathing suit contest!” Shaw said.
Shaw, who has been playing piano since she was about 5 years old, plans to showcase her musical talent and has two songs chosen.
The first was nominated for an academy award in 1962 and is the theme song for a movie based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “Tender Is the Night.” The other song, written in 1927, was made famous by Bugs Bunny, “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover.” The bunny sang the song in “Operation Rabbit” in about 1952. Shaw said her parents used to sing the song to her when she was little.
Shaw also has a gown chosen. The gown is the same one she wore in the Caribbean in 2000 when she was chosen “Miss Volendam,” for the Holland America Cruise Line.
That contest was an impromptu event held aboard the ship, and the only contest similar to the one she plans to participate in.
“It was fun. It was a hoot,” she said, noting that the winner was chosen by those aboard the ship.
The show focuses on “The Age of Elegance.”
“You can be attractive at any age,” she said, “with your personality, attitude and outlook on life.”
Shaw said one of the greatest things about the Missouri pageant is that there is something called the Cameo Club.
After the competition, the ladies are invited to be a part of the elite club. Throughout the year, the Cameo club performs shows at nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities.
Shaw is married to Richard Burbott but uses her maiden name because the French name Burbott is difficult to pronounce (Bur-bow). She has been married for nearly 30 years and has one son, Robert.
Shaw grew up in South St. Louis, in Germantown, the daughter of “Babe” and Milburn “Mel” Shaw.
Love of Learning
Shaw said she has a love of learning. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and Italian. She lived in China on and off for more than three years.
She also enjoys card games, needlepoint and Tai Chi, which she learned in China.
Shaw is a retired chef and is a member of St. Francis Borgia Parish.
Also a writer, Shaw wrote a course called “Podium Power” about political speaking. The course was taught at the Missouri ABC (All About Campaigning) School through the Missouri Federation of Republican Women.
It’s no surprise that Shaw loves gardening, as a distant descendent of the late Henry Shaw, founder the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
Shaw is the past president of the St. Louis County Republican Women’s Club and former public relations chairman for the National Federation of Republican Women Midwest Division.
She also has traveled all over the world and earned a Ph.D. in Mandarin Chinese from Cheng Du Institute in China.
Shaw said finding people’s inner beauty is about finding the Lord in them.
“I think that is beautiful. If you can’t find it, keep looking,” she said. “You might be surprised.”
Offering advice, Shaw said to be thankful for the present.
“It’s called the present for a reason — it is,” she said. “Be grateful for every day and count every one of your blessings.”
Shaw said it’s important to nourish your mental, physical and spiritual sides and added that she is competing solely for those who have inspired her in her new home in Washington.
“I love living in Washington. I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” she said.
For more information on the pageant, people may visit www.msmissourisenior.org.
Christine Dehart, co-state director, said contestants must be invited to audition. Those interested can use the website to contact Dehart.
The competition is split up as follows:
• 30 percent interview
• 30 percent talent
• 20 percent grace, elegance and poise
• 20 percent “philosophy of life”
Five judges will decide the pageant winner.