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GECC crowns 'Queen of Hearts'

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan  Contestant Bunnie Nix, 93, is congratulated by the Master of Ceremonies Jay Dennard after being crowed Ms. GECC during the eleventh annual Ms. GECC Pageant, "Queen of Hearts" for seniors at the Gwinnett Extended Care Center in Lawrenceville on Thursday. (right) Contestant Elizabeth Dobbs, 85 and her escort Victor Storelli of the North Gwinnett High School ROTC. Five senior women were selected and participated in the nights activities involving questions, entertainment and refreshments. The women were pampered by hairstylists and makeup artists.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Contestant Bunnie Nix, 93, is congratulated by the Master of Ceremonies Jay Dennard after being crowed Ms. GECC during the eleventh annual Ms. GECC Pageant, "Queen of Hearts" for seniors at the Gwinnett Extended Care Center in Lawrenceville on Thursday. (right) Contestant Elizabeth Dobbs, 85 and her escort Victor Storelli of the North Gwinnett High School ROTC. Five senior women were selected and participated in the nights activities involving questions, entertainment and refreshments. The women were pampered by hairstylists and makeup artists.

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Bunnie Nix, 93, is questioned by the Master of Ceremonies Jay Dennard during the eleventh annual Ms. GECC Pageant, "Queen of Hearts" for seniors at the Gwinnett Extended Care Center in Lawrenceville on Thursday as her escort Joshua Couillou listens on.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- On a night when friends, family and hospital staff showed up for support at the Gwinnett Extended Care Center, five ladies put on a show that many will remember for a long time.

The 11th annual Ms. GECC Pageant had its share of memories, laughter and lessons learned from a combined 420 years of experience during an event with a theme of "Queen of Hearts."

"This is something special for the ladies," said Marla Atkinson, president of the Gwinnett Medical Center Auxillary, which plans and hosts the event. "They look forward to this all year."

For the lucky five ladies that participated, the day had a feel of being in one of the national or international pageants -- they woke up and were served breakfast in bed, got their hair, nails and makeup done, and were pampered knowing it would be a long day for them.

When it was showtime, they didn't disappoint.

After the introduction of the judges and the emcee of the event, Jay Dennard, chief operating officer of Gwinnett Medical Center, the fun began as cadets from the North Gwinnett High School JROTC wheeled the five contestants out from the back.

Katie Nickson, 98, who won the Most Zest for Life, told the crowd of her love of gardening and the outdoors. Dennard responded by asking her if she would come help in his yard to which she replied, "I'm disabled right now," getting a roar from the crowd.

Mary Catherine Johnson, 72, won Ms. Congeniality and told the crowd that she admired her mother the most, and that the hula hoop was one of the most remarkable things she saw in her life, even getting her granddaughter to give a demonstration for the crowd.

Elizabeth Dobbs, 85, won Ms. Personality remembered her father, who was in the first World War and how she never drank. "I never drank, my mother never drank, but daddy drank his share."

Ann Beck, 82, won first runner-up, and had the crowd laughing with a story she recalled when Dennard asked her about her experiences working on a Marine base.

"I was 16," she said. "I chased the Marines around. They still got away."

Bunnie Nix, 93, took home the title of Ms. GECC, with a lesson that never gets old -- "Be obedient, mind your parents and treat people like you want to be treated. That's the best advice I can give anyone."

And, if you ever meet Nix, make sure you know how many books there are in the Bible (66). More than likely, she'll ask you.

At the end of the night, however, it didn't matter who won which award or who had the best answers. The only thing that mattered was the five women were surrounded by family and friends with whom they love and adore.

"This is a real treat for them," Atkinson said. "This gives everyone who's involved so much joy to be a part of."