Five Columbia County women have been nominated for the 2017 My Fair Lady pageant. The annual pageant takes place during the Columbia County Fair & Rodeo and features a handful of seniors from across the county who have served their communities through volunteer work and involvement.
This year's court is made up of princesses Margaret Brady of Rainier, Ruth Donaldson of Clatskanie, Claudia Eagle of St. Helens, Alta Lynch of Scappoose and Penny Dean, a longtime Vernonia resident who died after accepting the My Fair Lady nomination, prior to being able to take part in court activities.
The My Fair Lady pageant is sponsored by Columbia River People's Utility District, along with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, to recognize "outstanding service" of senior volunteers in the community.
This year's pageant takes place at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, at the Columbia County Fairgrounds in St. Helens.
Margaret Brady (Rainier)
Margaret was born and raised in Devils Lake, North Dakota. She attended school in Webster and Fargo, North Dakota, before moving to Columbia County in 1976.
Brady later worked as a bus driver in Rainier from 1977 to 1987, according to the Columbia River PUD, and also worked at the Trojan Nuclear Plant from 1985 to 2004. Brady is married and has five sons and four daughters, along with 18 grandchildren.
She has volunteered with Beaver Homes Grange, the St. Helens Moose Club and the Red Cross, along with helping organize the Ralph Painter Dinner and helping with her community sewing club.
Penny Dean (Vernonia)
Penny Dean was born and raised in Vernonia and was a lifelong Oregon resident.
Dean was widowed and had two children, a daughter and son, and three grandchildren.
She worked for the Vernonia School District for more than 30 years, retiring in 2000.
Dean cited growing up in Vernonia and watching the community change over the years as her most treasured memories.
Prior to her passing, Dean volunteered for the Vernonia Cares Food Bank from 1996 to 2017. She also worked in production for View-Master. When asked about her most treasured memory, Dean's daughter, Tina Brewington, recalled her mother's laugh and smile.
Ruth Donaldson (Clatskanie)
Donaldson was born in Longview, Wash., and raised in Clatskanie, where she has spent most of her life. She graduated from Clatskanie High School and later worked as a dairy farmer, owned a restaurant, a vintage shop and served as a center manager for Head Start.
Donaldson and her husband have four sons, 16 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She's volunteered her time with Clatskanie Baptist Church as a Sunday school teacher, Bible study leader and women's ministry host. She was a foster parent to more than 75 foster children throughout her life and volunteered with Head Start as a state and regional representative, in addition to volunteer stints with Clatskanie Little League, Babe Ruth Baseball and the Boosters, along with the Clatskanie Senior Center.
Alta Lynch (Scappoose)
Lynch moved to Columbia County in the 1980s and she's never looked back. She moved to Oregon at age 11 and later graduated from Redmond High School. Lynch says growing up she wanted to be a truck driver — a taboo field for women at the time. With encouragement from her father, she started in the trucking industry in 1977 and eventually owned and operated her own trucking company up until 2016.
Lynch also held stints training reindeer for Operation Santa Claus. For the past decade she's made veterans and their families a priority, volunteering at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, the St. Helens Elks Lodge and the Elks Veterans Bunker. Lynch received the Elks National Veterans Volunteer of the Year Award for 2014-15 and, in 2016, was awarded with the South Columbia Chamber of Commerce Community Impact Award.
Claudia Eagle (St. Helens)
Claudia was born in Seattle and raised in northeastern Washington. She later moved to Columbia County in 1967 after she married her husband. She and her husband, Bill, have two children and three grandchildren.
Eagle graduated from Warrenton High School and continued on at Willamette University, Pacific University, Portland State University and Oregon Health Sciences University.
She enjoyed teaching and was one of the first elementary school counselors in Oregon.
She's been a lifelong church volunteer and also dedicated her time to Kiwanis, serving as chair of the Pacific Northwest Kiwanis District's Young
Children Priority from 2009 to 2013.
Eagle has also volunteered with the Columbia County Transit Citizens Advisory Committee.