Marilyn Mullins Bettes today. After a long career in education, Bettes retired in 2004. She and her husband, Dane, moved to Navasota, where Marilyn serves on the school board and the couple are involved in community affairs.
Courtesy Photo

The Golden Jubilee

Catching up with the ladies who shared the 1960 crown

By TERRY MATHEWS,News-Telegram Arts Editor

July 20, 2008 - In the early days of the Hopkins County Dairy Festival Pageant, the competition for the crown was based on ticket sales. In 1960, two young women sold the same number of tickets, resulting in a tie and the need for two crowns.

"Who would have thought the two of us would earn the distinction of being queens that second year?" asked Marilyn Mullins Bettes, who shared the title with Barbara Bell. "A fast trip was made to Dallas to pick up a second crown."

Both girls had deep roots in Hopkins County.

Marilyn Mullins Bettes today. After a long career in education, Bettes retired in 2004. She and her husband, Dane, moved to Navasota, where Marilyn serves on the school board and the couple are involved in community affairs.
Courtesy Photo
Barbara Bell Seymore today. She and her husband, Lesley, came back to East Texas after Lesley retired from the Air Force as a fighter pilot. The couple live at Lake Fork and stay busy fishing and training Labradors.
Staff Photo By Sarah Yosten

Bettes, who graduated from Sulphur Springs High School in 1961, is the daughter of the late Jesse and Margaret Burt Waits Mullins. Her grandparents were Burt and Lois Waits.

Seymore is the daughter of the late John S. and Muriel Bell. Seymore's father, along with his two brothers, Joe and Bertram, established Bell Concrete in 1946. Her grandparents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Frank Bell, owned and operated a meat market on Main Street in the 1930s.

Seymore, who graduated in 1960, said she was recruited to participate in the pageant.

"Being the pianist for the Kiwanis Club in 1959 and 1960, I attended their weekly meetings," Seymore said. "They asked me to be their representative for the Dairy Festival both years."

Bettes, who was 17 when she won the title, said she was sponsored by the Junior Waverly Club. Bettes credits her mother's cousin, Lena Maye Rogers, with being her inspiration to enter the competition.

"Sunell Rogers Comfort (the first Dairy Festival Queen) and I are cousins," Bettes explained. "I believe that provided me with an additional incentive to be her successor. Her mother, Lena Maye, had a great influence on me and encouraged me to work hard to become the queen. "

When asked how many tickets they sold to win the dual title, neither could recall the winning number. But when they were asked what they wore the night of the pageant, both women were quick to reply.

"My gown was pink chiffon tulle - with lots of miniature ruffles and a large pink taffeta bow in back with floor length taffeta streamers," remembers Bettes, who was 18 when she was crowned.

Pink must have been a popular color that year.

"I wore the same gown both years," Seymore said. "I was a white strapless with a long ruffled skirt. The second year it was adorned with a bustle of pink fabric that cascaded to the hem."

Seymore and Bettes believe they learned valuable lessons while preparing for the competition.

"Whether meeting strangers and asking them to buy tickets or enlisting the aid of others to sell tickets on my behalf, the experience taught me communication skills which have served me well throughout the years," Bettes explained.

"I remember practicing for the pageant in the hot gym behind the old Connally Street high school. We learned how to walk, sit and bow flat to the floor in our long full skirts - all with a continuous smile," Seymore said. "The Dairy Festival gave me self-confidence to participate in other areas of life."

After attending Austin College for two years, Seymore married her high school sweetheart, Lesley, three weeks after they both graduated from Texas Tech University. Lesley was a fighter pilot in the Air Force. Barbara taught business courses in trade schools. She owned and operated an income tax business for 19 years.

In 1991, she was licensed by the Internal Revenue Service as an enrolled agent.

The Seymores have two children, Craig Seymore and Alicia Seymore Day, and three grandsons.

In 2001, the Seymores retired to Lake Fork.

"We always planned to return to Sulphur Springs," Seymore said. "We stay busy fishing and training our Labradors."

The couple attend First Methodist Church in Sulphur Springs and enjoy being part of a Sunday School class with many of their high school classmates.

Bettes graduated from Texas Wesleyan College in 1965 and began a career in education. She received her master's degree from Texas Christian University in 1972. During her 39-year career she worked as a teacher, instructional coordinator and academic coordinator.

Bettes and her husband of 45 years, Dane, raised Morgan horses for many years.

The Bettes have one daughter, Michelle Bettes Allen and three grandsons, Drew, 14, and twins Clay and Kyle, 10.

"Both our daughter and my husband spent many hours in the saddle as they rode our horses to victory," Bettes said.

Bettes's husband retired in 2003. She retired in 2004. They currently live in near NavasotaPlantersville, where she serves as secretary on the Navasota School Board, as well as secretary for the Navasota/Grimes County Chamber of Commerce.

"Dane and I are members of the Navasota United Methodist Church," Bettes said. "We are also active in various community and civic activities, including several in the Bryan-College Station area."

Bettes and Seymore believe holding the title of Dairy Festival was an honor and look forward to participating in the pageant's golden jubilee.

"As Dairy Festival Queen, you represent more than yourself," Bettes said. "You represent the entire county and all of its residents. Carrying the title makes you a special person and an ambassador for Hopkins County."

"I had fun representing Hopkins County in festival parades and pageants in nearby cities," Seymore said. "I look forward to being a part of the 50th year celebration."

(Editor's Note: In June 2009, the Hopkins County Dairy Festival will celebrate its golden anniversary. Over the next 49 weeks, the News-Telegram plans to visit with former Dairy Festival queens to reminisce about the festival, the pageant and what it meant to wear the crown.)

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