Miss Fort Worth is crowned the 75th Miss Texas

ARLINGTON -- Miss Fort Worth Ashley Melnick was crowned the 75th Miss Texas late Friday after a nostalgic pageant that featured dozens of former titleholders.

The first runner-up was Miss Irving, Jordan Johanssen. She and Melnick were roommates at TCU.

The other finalists were Miss Arlington, Cristie Kibler; Miss Frisco, DaNae Couch; and Miss White Settlement, Kendall Morris

Madison Fuller of Frisco was named Miss Teen Texas.

During the pageant at Texas Hall at the University of Texas at Arlington, past Miss Texases re-created snippets of their title-winning talent performances in the show that led up to the naming of the finalists.

Miss Texas 1993, Bo Chandler Boyd, was decked out in the sparkling, fully fringed cocktail dress she wore 17 years ago. She said she wasn't the only one squeezing into a gown from the past.

Almost all the participants wore items from their competition wardrobe, she said.

"How many girdles, how many pulls on a zipper, how much duct tape. ... We've sworn each other to secrecy," Boyd said.

This will be an extra-special year for the 2010 Miss Texas.

"It's always special every year," she said. "But this year, she is being welcomed into the sisterhood with more than half of our sisters present."

It was also a special night for Jean Magness, the pageant's chairwoman, CEO and executive director, who is retiring.

"This is it," Magness said.

She would have retired last year but waited for the 75th anniversary, she said. "It just seemed like perfect timing," she said.

Magness succeed her late husband, B. Don Magness, at the helm of the state pageant. The next pageant will be the first since the 1960s without the leadership of one of the Magnesses. B. Don Magness died in 2008.

Marvin Blum, 55, a Fort Worth lawyer, is taking over as chairman.

Magness said that during a normal pageant year, Friday's event would have not been the end of her work for the year.

"I would be getting paperwork together first thing in the morning and meeting deadlines for national teen [competition] in August," she said.

Instead, Magness said, she has no idea what she will do today.

"As soon as the awards are complete onstage, I'm going home, putting on some comfy clothes and shoes, and finding whatever is the new reality in my life," she said.

"After 38 years, having everything in my life revolve around the pageant in one way or another, I don't have a clue what I'll do."

Magness said the week has been busy and emotional.

"We've laughed until we've cried ... and cried until we've laughed," she said.

Rebecca Robinson, Miss Texas 2008, described the anniversary celebration as "icing on the cake."

Judy Mallett, Miss Texas 1973, said she is grateful for the scholarships, which have grown to about $45 million this year.

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the educational aspects," Mallett said. "I was the ugly duckling in high school. I was tall, gawky and played the violin. I was terrified to stand up in front of a group."

Mary Lou Butler Blaylock, Miss Texas 1965, said she enjoyed visiting with friends this week and watching the younger women as they start their journey.

The pageant has become much more polished, but its purpose has remained strong, she said.

"One thing it still hasn't lost sight of is the scholarships," Blaylock said.

"It's more about what you can truly do with your life."