"Inner-Beauty" Queen

Payson mom competes for title of Mrs. Arizona International

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How she was chosen, Bonnie Dorris isn't sure.

After all, she has no prescription for world peace.

She refuses to pose in a bathing suit.

And she's never heard of Bert Parks, who turned the words "Heeeere she comes, Missss Amerrrricaaaaa" into a national mantra.

But even so, Dorris has been named Mrs. Payson International 2000, and is now preparing to represent Payson at the "Mrs. Arizona International 2001" competition which will unfold in Mesa next March.

For anyone who's ever wondered about the long, hard climb to the top of the beauty-pageant ladder, the climb as it turns out is not so long. Or hard.

"Actually, there was an advertisement in the Roundup," Dorris said by way of explanation. "My husband said I should respond, since I was the best Mrs. there could ever be, So I sent in the little application, and then they sent me a letter telling me I had been named Mrs. Payson International 2001."

The Mrs. International Pageant is not your typical beauty pageant. It's an "inner beauty" contest which recognizes women for their commitment to marriage, family and community stewardship. "Our focus," says the selection notice Dorris received, "is on dedicated and intelligent women who possess inner beauty."

In her application, Dorris was asked to complete a sentence beginning with, "To me 'family' means ..."

She answered thusly: "To me 'family' means the nucleus that holds all society together. It consists of one man and one woman committing to each other and dedicating themselves to the responsibility of guiding their offspring to become contributing members of society."

Dorris' first task as Mrs. Payson International 2000 is to seek sponsorship support in the form of purchasing advertising space in the pageant program as she prepares to represent Payson at the "Mrs. Arizona International 2001 competition which will unfold in Mesa next March.

"From this point forward, I make myself known throughout the town as a representative of Payson," said Dorris of her duties as an inner-beauty queen. "I will spread the encouragement of marriage and family. I'll need some sort of platform to talk about, but I'm not real sure what that will be. I know it has to be something related to marriage."

A native of Wisconsin, Dorris, 48, came to Arizona as a missionary teacher for an Indian reservation near Tucson. She's lived in Payson for the last 25 years, though, and for the last 10, she's been married to her current husband, Paul, "who has long called me Mrs. America around the house." Dorris has four children from a previous marriage: Matt, 21, Misty, 19, Mindy, 16, and Martin, 12.

Today, of course, she is Mrs. Payson International, representing the town to folks and fellow contestants all over Arizona. And Dorris knows just what she's going to tell them about her home town.

"That it is awesomely wonderful," Dorris said, flashing a beauty queen smile. "Wonderful people, wonderful country. We that live here are so blessed. The little skirmishes we have amongst ourselves are nothing in the overall pleasure of just being able to enjoy this community."

One more question. How many local women, exactly, applied to become Mrs. Payson International?

"Probably only myself," Dorris said with a laugh.

To sponsor Mrs. Payson International 2000, Bonnie Dorris, at next spring's Mrs. Arizona International competition, call her at 474-2322.

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