Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beauty Knows No Age

By Mary Wilson
From runway, to Mary Kay, to beauty queen, Helen Hunter, a resident of Life Care Center of Grandview, participated in Missouri Health Care Association District One’s Ms. Missouri Nursing Home Pageant. Held at the First Baptist Church of Raytown on June 28, Hunter was first runner up in a pageant of twelve elderly women.
Hunter was chosen to represent Life Care Center of Grandview in the pageant, though she humbly said that it probably had nothing to do with her outer beauty.
“They picked me and I felt so honored,” said Hunter. “For goodness sakes, they picked me out of all the clients in the whole place to represent them.”
The annual event honors women across the state that are living in nursing homes. Each contestant is asked a series of questions, and the event is taken very seriously by those involved. Hunter even promoted the cosmetics that became her career at the pageant.
“I’m 84 years old and they just raved about me being 84,” said Hunter. “I said, well, Mary Kay does her job.”
She joined Mary Kay Cosmetics as a beauty consultant and set her sights on being the first black Senior Director, a position she held for 23 of her 32 years with the company. During her time with Mary Kay, she received four of the highest honors the company offers for achievement: two pink Cadillacs, a Buick Regal and a Pontiac Grand Am.
Prior to that, Hunter came from humble beginnings during the aftermath of World War II, and was born in Campbell, Ohio, on April 17, 1929. She graduated from grade school in Buffalo, NY, and went on to high school but fell in love, got married and quickly had three children. After relocating to Detroit, Hunter finished her education and graduated from Commerce High School and became a fashion model.
After a rocky marriage that ended in divorce, she set her sights on finding a career that would keep her family in the lifestyle they had grown accustomed to. Hunter then took classes in Pharmacology and became an LPN, working two jobs to send her children to private school. After each graduated, she turned her goals in a different direction: Mary Kay.
Health issues later made it difficult for her to continue with Mary Kay, so she retired from the company. Hunter has been at Life Care Center of Grandview for eighteen months. Along with her three children, she has 27 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren, who light up her eyes when she talks about them. She was married for forty years to the love of her life. Though moving to a nursing home can be scary, she said that she has been more than pleased.
“Everybody is like buddies,” she said. “They come in and talk to me and I hear ‘Miss Helen’ all the time. I have enjoyed my stay here. I can’t find anything that I can say negative about this place. From the top all the way down to the people that sweep the floors, it’s just 100% like a family.”
Life Care Center is located at 6301 E 125th Street in Grandview. They can be found online at

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