Ms. Shelby Ridge second in state

Miss Shelby Ridge Rehab Select reacts as judges announce her name as the first runner-up in the Miss Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. Shelby Ridge Rehab Select is near Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The representative from Alabaster’s Shelby Ridge Nursing Home and Rehab Select beat out 73 other contestants July 25 to take second place at the statewide Miss Alabama Nursing Home Pageant at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover.

Bessie Smitherman, 90, who was crowned Miss Shelby Ridge Rehab Select in May, gasped and smiled as the judges announced she was the first runner-up in the statewide competition.

“I think it’s just wonderful,” Smitherman said, still smiling and laughing after the pageant. “I had no idea I would get this far, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

The pageant featured representatives from 75 nursing homes from throughout Alabama. Felma Schrimshire, the 100-year-old representative from Andalusia Manor, was crowned the 2011 Miss Alabama Nursing Home, and will serve as a spokeswoman for the Alabama Nursing Home Association and speak at several events throughout the next year.

After representatives were chosen for each of the 75 nursing homes, the contestants sent in applications and videos to the Nursing Home Association. Over the past month, judges reviewed the applications and videos before choosing the top 10 contestants.

Those who were not in the top 10 attended the pageant as the event’s honor court, and cheered and applauded their fellow contestants.

For at least the third consecutive year, Miss Shelby Ridge Rehab Select earned a spot in the top 10 before going on to be crowned fourth runner-up or higher. In 2009, Miss Shelby Ridge Patricia Bradberry was crowned first runner-up, and in 2010, Miss Shelby Ridge Janet Ratliff was named fourth runner-up.

During the pageant, the judges asked each of the top 10 contestants an on-stage question related to their lives, their nursing homes or current world events.

A judge asked Smitherman “If you could relive one moment, what would it be and why?”

“I would be married again. I met the love of my life. He was my dance partner,” Smitherman responded. “I stayed with him, or rather he stayed with me, for 50 years.

“I still like to dance, but I can’t find anyone up there to dance with me,” Smitherman added, drawing applause from the audience of several hundred.

Smitherman has two sons, two daughters, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. She said she enjoys taking shopping and restaurant trips with her friends at Shelby Ridge, and attending birthday parties.

“I’ve been on a journey, and everyone has been so nice,” Smitherman said after the pageant. “I’m so glad for everything they do for me (at Shelby Ridge).”