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First Miss Pacifica dies' pageant entwined with the history of Pacifica

Pacifica Tribune
Posted: 08/16/2011 05:00:54 PM PDT

Jackie Willard, 71, crowned Miss Pacifica 1957, lost her battle with cancer Aug. 1 in Sacramento. In addition to her coronation as Miss Pacifica, Jackie, who then lived on Canada Avenue in Sharp Park, was student body President at Westmoor High School and went on to become the first Coastside representative for County Queen at the San Mateo County Floral Fiesta at Bay Meadows. See a full obituary on her life on Page 3S. Jackie was the first in a long line of talented women who received scholarship money and other prizes as a result of the efforts of many dedicated Pacificans. In fact, the pageant itself is entwined with the history of Pacifica.
Beginning before incorporation, the Miss Pacifica Pageant provided "the finest display of Pacifica can-do spirit, talent, and managerial skill ever brought together to accomplish a goal the entire community could be proud of," according to "The Reactor," Paul Azevedo, in 1991. On the first Saturday night in April 1957 nearly 400 "enthusiastic" people packed the Miramar Hotel to attend the event sponsored by the "City Committee."

That night, the Miss Pacifica Coronation Ball raised more than $400 needed to help pay incorporation costs for the soon to be formed city. Even then, a community protest arose and the "North Coastside Taxpayer's Group," E.L. Tong's secret political society, attempted to ruin ticket sales and picket the event. The protestors challenged the need for incorporation and demanded the "City Committee" reveal their finances. George Mason, chair of the City Committee, responded that all finances would be revealed when the petition drive was complete, "but we don't feel called upon to answer any 'challenges' from nameless men..."
Despite the controversy, Pacifica grew and the "can-do" spirit produced one of the finest, all-volunteer pageants in the State of California. In fact, Pacifica's pageant received first place in staging and management so often that it was one of the first named a "Hall of Fame Pageant" to give lesser pageants a chance. Former Mayor Aubrey Lumley managed the Pacifica pageant and went on to manage the Miss California Pageant. Top emcees like Fred La Cosse and Susan Anton came to town, but all was gone by 1980.
The recent loss of Jackie Willard, Miss Pacifica 1957, once again reminds us of what our incredible community can accomplish and how integral the Miss Pacifica Pageant has been in the history of our City. Later this fall, an episode of the Pacifica Historical Society's "Footprints of Pacifica" will be dedicated to the history of the Miss Pacifica Pageant.