Marguerite Ronchetto, of Lee’s Summit, competed this week in the statewide Ms. Nursing Home Pageant at Branson.
Ronchetto, who’ll be 99 in November, said she enjoyed the trip Aug. 25 even if she didn’t win the pageant sponsored by the Missouri Health Care Association.
“We shopped, went out to restaurants and had a good time,” she said.
The contest consists of an interview by judges who consider personality, activities, attitude and other criteria. She won the Kansas City-area pageant in June where there were 12 contestants. The state competition was for winners of the association’s seven districts.
Ronchetto has been a resident at Wilshire at Lakewood for about 18 months. She’s originally from Macon, Mo.
Cathy Wolverton, activities director for the facility, said Ronchetto was chosen as their nominee because of her wit, life story and age.
She lost to a 100-year-old woman who had gone on a balloon ride.
Ronchetto is the daughter of immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island in 1910 and traveled to Missouri for job opportunities. Her father was a coal miner and her mother a homemaker.
Born in 1915, Ronchetto graduated from 8th grade, fluent in Italian, but otherwise was self taught.
Ronchetto told judges about her 75-year marriage to Tony Ronchetto, a coal miner who worked their 375-acre farm after his day job and on weekends.
She said the secret for a lasting marriage is kindness and cooking good meals.
She cooked Italian cuisine, baked bread, oversaw farmhands and fed them, grew vegetables and canned. They also raised chickens and Black Angus cattle.
She loves watching “The Big Bang Theory” on television. Sheldon, her favorite character, is “humorous and good looking,” she said. She keeps a picture of her with a cutout of Sheldon on her wall.
She said she also enjoys attending Catholic Mass, playing bingo and shopping. She’s an avid Cardinals fan.
A medical technician at Wilshire nicknamed her the “Mayor of Macon” because she always asks people she meets if they’ve been to the town and explains that’s where she’s from.
“The staff just loves her,” Wolverton said. “She has a quick wit and is always happy.”
Ronchetto has four children. Two of her three daughters live in Lee’s Summit, and the other in Liberty. Her son lives in Texas.
She has seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.