VICKSBURG FACTS: Vicksburg’s first Miss Mississippi

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 9, 2023

Do you know who the first Miss Mississippi was from Vicksburg?

Judy Simono, a Vicksburg native, won the title of Miss Mississippi in 1964. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Simono and was a graduate of H.V. Cooper High in 1962.

Before winning the state title, Simono acquired many accomplishments in high school and college. She maintained honors in high school and in college. While in high school she was the Governor of Girl’s State, President Pro Tem of the Senate in Girl’s Nation and second place winner in a national competition conducted by the Elks according to the Clarion-Ledger on Aug. 7, 1964. 

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She attended Southwestern College in Memphis for her freshman and sophomore years, now known as Rhodes College. Simono was elected to be an Honor Council representative, a cheerleader for Southwestern’s football team in the fall of her junior year, student government and helped organize the debate team.

She entered the state competition as Miss Vicksburg and succeed in becoming the new Miss Mississippi. Right after the competition, Simono trained for the Miss America competition in Atlantic City, N.J. It was often reported that Simono was predicted to do well in the national pageant since she was a natural public speaker.

She would practice three hours a day for her en pointe routine, which was an adaptation of Tchaikowsky’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Her dance teacher Willi Hoffman aided Simono during her rehearsals and would coach her pageant skill since Hoffman was Miss Louisiana and runner-up to Miss America in the 1940s according to the Clarion-Ledger on July 1, 1964. As she prepared for Miss America, Simono did continue going to college and transferred to Millisaps College to continue her studies in political science. 

Simono would also spend many afternoons penning thank-you notes to over 200 well-wishing messages received after her crowning. 

Before leaving for Atlantic City, Simono had a send-off party. At this event, she had an autographing party, a presentation of an evening gown with a fur wrap and white kid gloves for the parade and a reception and banquet in her honor according to the Clarion-Ledger Aug. 30, 1964.

It was emceed by Vicksburg’s mayor Johnny Holland at the Old Southern Tea Room. There she was presented with a diamond necklace and a telegram message from the Governor of Mississippi, Paul Johnson, according to the Clarion-Ledger on Aug. 30, 1964.

Then, it was time for Mississippi’s living example of its ideal girl to compete for the title of Miss America.