A Look at the Extraordinary Life of the Gun-Toting 1944 Miss America From KY
Did I ever tell you about the time I got to ask Miss America is she'd tried a mutton sandwich? No? Well, yeah, one time, at the BBQ Festival, I got to speak with Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000.
She was accompanying her husband and Daviess County native, Steve Henry, who was Kentucky's lieutenant governor at the time. Oh, and by the way, Heather was--and presumably IS--no fan of mutton. That's fine. I don't hold that against anyone not from Daviess County; that's a fairly common reaction from non-natives.
But she was a blast to interview and remains the only Miss America I have ever met. Honestly, if they don't represent Kentucky, I'm not sure HOW I'd meet them. And Heather French Henry remains the only Miss Kentucky to win the national crown. However, she is not the ONLY winner from the Commonwealth.
A Miss America from Kentucky Who Didn't REPRESENT Kentucky
That would be Venus Ramey, who was born in Ashland KY in 1924 and would later be crowned Miss America 1944. She passed away in 2017 and is buried in Pulaski County KY.
But Venus Ramey was never Miss Kentucky, and that's because of World War II.
Miss America 1944 Venus Ramey's Service to America
When she was just a teen (presumably, because she was 19 when she became Miss America), Ramey moved to Washington DC to contribute to the war effort. As part of the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, she was profiled by the project's senior reference specialist, Megan Harris, who explains Ramey's hard work during the war:
During World War II, Ramey sold over $5 million in war bonds, entertained the troops with musical performances, and visited veterans hospitals, where her interactions with wounded men profoundly influenced her views on war and politics, and led to her own attempt at a political career after World War II.
A pin-up girl after winning the Miss America crown while representing the District of Columbia, Venus was immortalized on a B-17 bomber. In fact, the entire crew's survival was credited to her "presence."
But she wasn't finished making headlines.
A Former Miss America Foils a Burglary
After unsuccessful political runs in the early 1950s and the 1970s, Ramey was back in the news in 2007 for a most unlikely reason.
It looks like four guys picked the wrong barn to pilfer 16 years ago, doesn't it?
I would have loved to have met Venus Ramey; she seemed like a real pistol...pun intended and kind of unavoidable.
Venus Ramey's Appearance for the Veterans History Project
One of the reasons I've come to that conclusion is this casual is this appearance for the Veterans History Project several years ago. It's a lengthy interview which really gets going at the 3:48 mark:
Venus Ramey's was truly a life well-lived, filled with service, fun, excitement, humor, and one unforgettable day in 2007.