1972 Dairy Festival Queen Gina Chancellor Reese.
1972 Dairy Festival Queen Gina Chancellor Reese, center, with her parents Suzy and Warren Chancellor.

The Golden Jubilee: 1972 Dairy Fest Queen's greatest gifts are growing up with an exceptional family, marrying a good man and having two amazing children

By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor

Oct. 5, 2008 - Gina Chancellor Reese, 1972 Hopkins County Dairy Festival Queen, lives life with a grateful heart.

"I can't talk about my involvement with the Dairy Festival without thanking my mom and dad for all of the support and encouragement they gave me during the pageant and throughout my life," Reese said. I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without their help and love."

Reese's parents, Warren and Suzy Chancellor, were active participants in her quest for the crown.

Her father owned Warren's Pharmacy on the square. Her mother was an elementary school teacher. Reese's grandparents were the late Ben Wood, Hopkins County clerk and county auditor, and Lois Wood, an elementary school teacher and the late Walter and Daisy Chancellor of Cooper.

Her mother was a member of the Junior Waverly Club, and along with her dad, the couple had worked on a lot of floats while she was growing up.

"I was fortunate to be chosen by the Junior Waverly Club to represent them," Reese said. "I have special memories of the different floats I 'helped' them build. I'll never forget making countless flowers out of crepe paper and napkins before ready-made 'petal paper' became the float-making material of choice."

When it came time for Reese to compete for the crown, her father designed her float, a scaled-down replica of the 1903 Wright brothers' Kitty Hawk aircraft.

"My dad created and designed my float," she explained. "My mom figured out how to make the design a reality."

Reese said her parents, along with Junior Waverly Club members, worked tirelessly to build the float.

"The Kitty Hawk was red with glitter over the entire airplane," she said. "It was pulled with long ropes by Brad Skidmore, Bill Harry, Danny Holder, David Black and David Bradley, who were dressed in white coveralls."

Scott Keys and Jeff April carried the Kitty Hawk banner.

Before the parade, an Army gunship helicopter landed in City Park. It was to be part of the festival's displays. As it landed, cotton decorations were blown off one float and, as Reese remembers, "the Kitty Hawk began to lift off and head in a westerly direction. That plane actually lifted!"

Reese is also grateful to others in the community who helped her during her reign.

"Lena Mae Rogers was a name synonymous with the pageant," said Reese. "As a little girl I watched in awe as she coordinated all things Dairy Festival - or so it seemed to me - each year. I felt honored to be able to participate in the tradition with her and appreciated her guidance during the 1972 and 1973 pageants."

Reese says she owes a debt to the Brody Koon family. At the 1972 pageant, Jana Koon was a contestant with Reese.

"My parents were not in the dairy business, but I was fortunate to have close friends who were," Reese explains. "The Brody Koon family was like a second family to me, and I learned a lot about the dairy industry from them."

The day after the pageant, Reese and Koon, who was runner-up and ticket sales winner, were excused from school so they could attend the Hopkins County Dairy Show together.

"Since Jana was the experienced veteran at the Dairy Show, she showed me the ropes, and we had so much fun together talking with the contestants and their families and presenting awards to the winners," she said.

Reese said that getting to know the Hopkins County dairy farmers might have been the reason she was selected FFA Sweetheart her senior year in high school.

Reese is also thankful for the "light blue Monte Carlo" that she drove around for a couple of weeks, courtesy of Gober-Merrill Chevrolet.

"It was fun to drive since I was driving my parents' old Impala at the time," Reese said.

For the talent portion of the competition, Reese performed a tap dance to "Georgy Girl" in front a Broadway-like marquee with her name "Gina" in lights. The marquee was made by her mom. She won the talent competition, despite a bad case of stage fright.

"I was probably the most nervous I have ever been to dance in a red sequined costume in front of all those people," she said.

The night of the coronation, which was held at the football field, Reese remembers the patriotic decorations.

"The field and stage were decorated in red, white and blue and U.S. flags for the theme 'Our American Heritage,'" she said. "That entire night, I felt like a little girl living out her princess dream. I was thrilled to be crowned by my life-long friend, Beth Ashcroft. The tears of happiness flowed from my eyes and the mascara ran down my cheeks."

During her reign, Reese represented Hopkins County at various festivals in the East Texas area.

"At age 17 and 18, I fell that these appearances gave me invaluable experience and opportunities," she said. "They gave me the confidence I needed to move from a small town to Austin and have a successful college career and beyond."

After high school, Reese attended college at the University of Texas at Austin, something of a family tradition in the Chancellor family.

"My dad, my brother Warren, my sister-in-law Vaughn, my husband Don, my children Alison and Matt, are all proud graduates of the university," she said. "Most of our leisure time is spent at university events, including football, basketball and baseball games."

She married Don Reese on July 31, 1975 at First Methodist Church in Sulphur Springs. They have two children. Daughter Alison Chancellor Reese Spurlock, 26, and her husband, Matt, live in Austin and are expecting their first child in January. Their son, Andrew Ryan Reese, 22, lives and works in Austin.

Reese earned a marketing degree in 1976. She worked at the University of Texas until 1982, when Alison was born.

"I was fortunate to be able to be a full time mom, homemaker and community volunteer," Reese said. "I have held countless committee and leadership positions over the years, and I continue to be a 'professional volunteer' in Austin. I feel blessed to be able to give back by giving my time to help others."

Reese's husband became a CPA and then graduated from UT Law School in 1979.

"He practiced law in Austin, then became a founding partner in a commercial real estate company," she said. "His success allowed me to devote my time to family, community and philanthropic activities and enabled us to start our family foundation, through which we coordinate our charitable efforts."

Reese is grateful for many things, including her father's design skills and her mother's ability to make the designs a reality.

"My dad and mom decorated my silver and blue Queen's float that was made to match my dress," Reese said. "That actual float has been used every year since, I'm told. That's a legacy."

Reese is also grateful for the opportunity to serve as 1972 Dairy Festival Queen.

"I would encourage any girl in Hopkins County to participate in the pageant," Reese said. "It is a wonderful experience for personal growth in so many ways. The whole experience was priceless, and I enjoyed every second of the events with the other girls."

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Information from 1972 Hopkins County Dairy Festival Program

"Our American Heritage"

Narrators - Jim Paul, Mrs. Verdon Graves

Music - Vickie and Grady King

Court Entertainment - Blue Blazes and Sulphur Springs High School Band

Presentation of Colors - United States Navy

Duchesses

Lisa LeMole - Commerce

Cindy Clark - Gilmer

Carolyn Price - Yantis

Elaine Wilson - Plano

Cathy Carlisle - Mineola

Susan Klee - Quitman

Mary Berthiaume - Winnsboro

Lana Burnside - Wills Point

Judy Glover - Mount Vernon

Jackie Hurlburt - Daingerfield

Elizabeth Ellis - Pittsburg

Princesses

Jamie Holcolm - Representing Sulphur Bluff High School - Sponsored by Rockwell Mfg. Co.

Libby Scott - Representing Business and Professional Woman's Club - Foxworth-Gilbreath Lumber Co.

Sheila Bearden - Representing Miller Grove High School - Sponsored by Dairyman's Discount Supply

Sherri Sanderson - Representing Waverly Club - Sponsored by City National Bank

Jana Koon - Representing Mother's Culture Club - Sponsored by Peoples National Bank

Nita Jane Clifton - Representing Cumby High School - Sponsored by Ardis-Linington Motor Co.

Gina Chancellor - Representing Jr. Waverly Club - Sponsored by American Milk Producers, Inc.

Luanne Preuss - Representing Rotary Club - Sponsored by Sulphur Springs State Bank

Vickie McFadden - Representing Alpha Alpha Alpha Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi - Sulphur Springs Farm Store

1972 Hopkins County Dairy Festival

President - Billy Sam Elliott

Pageant Coordinator - Mrs. F.G. Rogers

Secretary-Treasurer - Mrs. Ed. I. Palmer III

Committees

Decoration - Mrs. Billy Sam Elliott, Mrs. R. C. Cates

Stage Construction - Billy Sam Elliott, James Jones

Talent and Beauty Show - Mrs. Bill Hager, Mrs. B.B. McCool, Mrs. Gene Watson, Mrs. Lewis Helm, Mrs. Larry Gamblin, Mrs. James Moore

Tickets - Mrs. Joseph Longino, Mrs. Pete Long

Parade Marshal - Hoyt Gideon

Float Arrangements - Leo St. Clair

Arrangements for Duchesses - Mrs. Walter Helm

Lighting and Sound - John Sharber, Charles Thompson

Court Assistants

Bentley Beers

Byrd Bonner

Lee Hammond

Steve Morgan

Richard Morgan

Matt Coffey

(Editor's Note: In June 2009, the Hopkins County Dairy Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In the weeks leading up to the festival, the News-Telegram will 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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