Former Miss America (the first Mormon to win) left legacy of family, faith

by | Apr. 06, 2010

Mormons We Know

Colleen Kay Hutchins Vandeweghe used to tell her four athletic children before games that they weren't competing alone — Heavenly Father was right there beside them.

This is one of Heather Vandeweghe Shannon's favorite memories of her mother, the 1947 BYU homecoming queen and University of Utah graduate who became Miss America in 1952 and attracted so much attention for her LDS faith that some have called her the first American Mormon media superstar.

Vandeweghe, 83, died March 24 at her home in Newport Beach, Calif., after battling intestinal issues on and off for 17 years.

"She was incredibly devoted to her children and her husband," Shannon said. "She would do anything for us."

Shannon remembers her mother coming to her tennis practices and sitting up in the stands just watching her. Other parents would come with a book in hand, but not her mom. After watching, her mother would tell her, "You looked very beautiful out there today."

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