The Senior Olympics had been cancelled. Gyms were closed as was most everything else, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boredom, frustration and a lack of motivation was taking over. Glynis (Hauser) Worthington, who would much rather be in a gym working out, found herself on the couch watching network talk shows, all while wondering, “What am I going to do now?” That was until her husband, Wayne, suggested one morning, with a chuckle, that she try out for the Mrs. Iowa contest.
Worthington, now 59 and the mother of four, who forty years earlier had won the title of the 1980 Centerville, Iowa Pancake Days Queen while a freshman at Iowa State, admitted the idea was appealing.
“I marched to the computer and googled it, then signed up shortly thereafter,” she said. “That’s how it started.”
Worthington, who graduated from Grinnell High School, has lived in the Cedar Valley area (Cedar Falls, Hudson and Waterloo) for the last 25-plus years. She and Wayne also owned a home at Holiday Lake near Brooklyn for 14 years.
Worthington gave herself the title of Mrs. Cedar Valley as there was no local Mrs. America competition. She started a Facebook page to promote the competition, saying that she entered mainly out of boredom and as a way to inspire others.
“I plan to use it to tell of my adventures this year,” she said of Facebook. “Also, I hope it inspires other women from our area to claim the position and compete. There are many talented and able “Mrs.” women here that would represent us well!”
Her inspiration to get off the couch and sign up for the pageant paid off. Worthington was crowned Mrs. Iowa on Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts in Pittsburg, Kan. Due to COVID and the Governors’ orders limiting gatherings, the Iowa competition, which has been canceled twice this year, was combined with Kansas and Missouri. Iowa had three contestants, Worthington, Mrs. Pella, who finished runner-up and Mrs. Alamakee County.
There were a total of 15 contestants from all three states who took part in interview, bathing suit and evening gown competitions similar to the Miss America format. Each of the three state’s titles were determined on that day.
The title of Mrs. Iowa earned Worthington free airfare and hotel stay for the National “Mrs.” America Pageant, Jan. 22-29, at the Westgate in Las Vegas. A swimsuit, luggage and make-up at no charge is also part of the package.
“Apparently, it will be on television as well,” noted Worthington. “Yikes!”
What’s amazing about it all, Worthington’s wardrobe for the competition was purchased at Goodwill. She spent a total of $56 for her evening gown, swimsuit, interview dress, shoes and accessories.
“I have shopped thrift since age 17 when I moved to Ames and discovered it,” said Worthington. “It’s been my primary (and nearly my only) source for shoes and clothing for more than 20 years!”
To share her thriftiness and inspire others to do the same, Worthington has started sharing outfits by posting the clothes she wears on Instagram at: Thrifty_Momma_G.
Worthington, whose parents were originally from Centerville, grew up in Grinnell. Her father, Dr. Hauser, DMV was a long-time veterinarian in Grinnell.
She spent her summers during high school as a lifeguard at the Grinnell Pool.
“I taught a lot of people in town (now adults) to swim,” Worthington said.
She also dove into her high school course work by keeping a concentrated schedule and skipping lunches to finish in three years, graduating in May 1979 at the end of her junior year.
Worthington said she and follow classmate, Martha Pinder, spent the next year as Rotary Exchange students.
“I lived with a family and went to Prepa (high school) in San Andres, Vera Cruz, Mexico,” said Worthington. “There I learned Spanish and lived as one of only three white people (me, a Rotary Exchange Student (male) from Knoxville, and a male missionary) in a town of more than 50,000 mestizos (80 percent) and Spaniards (20 percent).”
Worthington said the experience changed her life.
“I learned the value of knowing a person for their soul (what's inside), rather than the outside, as that is how I longed for people to see me, rather than focus on the difference of my appearance,” she said. “I hope I have taught my children the same.”
After returning to Iowa in November 1980, Worthington enrolled at Iowa State, which at the time was on quarter semesters. She was able to attend winter and spring semesters her freshman year. She spent the summer working at a floating restaurant at Lake Rathburn, where she met Henry Little, a customer of the eatery and the MC and manager of the Pancake Queen pageant.
“Henry encouraged my boss to sponsor me in the event,” recalled Worthington. “My boss said he would give me my last paycheck for the season when I came back to be in the Pancake Queen contest, so I did. The best part I think was that I did it mostly for the paycheck and didn't "sweat" the contest. The approach was a lot less nerve-wracking.”
What was unique about it all, Worthington said, was that her Mrs. Iowa win came almost 40 years to the day of when she won the Pancake Queen title in 1980.
Worthington graduated from ISU with a BA in Marketing with honors. She went on to earn an MBA in Strategic Planning, Marketing Recognition from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Worthington and Wayne were married on Sept. 16, 1983. The couple are the parents of four children, Wayne (Buster), Kate, Jack and Edie, all who are serving in the military.
When the couple’s two oldest children were young, the couple held MBA jobs and traveled the country. Worthington has spent the last 20 years as a stay-at-home mom.
“By being at home, I was able to do a lot with the kids,” said Worthington. “We nearly did it all: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, wrestling, football, dance, 4-H. The kids also did community service projects when they were in high school to gain leadership and citizenship experience.”
The couple’s oldest son, Wayne Jr., is a 2010 graduate of Waterloo West. He attended the United States Naval Academy, where he studied Naval Architecture. He is cross-commissioned to the United States Marines and was a Captain in the Infantry with two deployments to the Mediterranean/Middle East and Puerto Rico.
Daughter Kate, a 2011 graduate of Waterloo West, attended and graduated from Coe College in 2012 with a nursing degree. She participated in the Air Force ROTC at the University of Iowa while at Coe, and is currently a Captain in nursing for the United States Air Force. She earned her master’s in Medical Informatics from Liberty University in May 2020. Medical Informatics is the use of Information Technology in the field of medicine. She is currently serving in Saudi Arabia.
“Her husband, William Pugh, is also an Air Force Captain and a USAFA graduate,” noted Worthington. “He is a Cyber Instructor. His strategic expertise and service require him to remain stateside.”
Son Jack, who attended BGM during his freshman and sophomore years, went to Chile for most of his junior year. After graduating from Hudson High School in 2015, he attended West Point and is currently completing his undergrad and master’s in mechanical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York. He also manages his ministry, Faith Comes from Hearing, where he shares the gospel in Kenya and New York. He has also ministered in Kashmir, India.
Daughter Edie, a 2017 graduate of BGM High School, is a junior at the Air Force Academy where she is studying Civil Engineering and serves on the staff for the USAFA football team. At BGM, Edie built Bear Creek Range by the Poweshiek County Transfer Station. She and her mother also established the annual BGM Trap Dinner.
Worthington is currently pursuing a doctoral degree as a full time student at the University of Northern Iowa. Her interest is in developing and understanding the impact of community-based competitive sports programs in the lives of adults over age 50.
She started working out 10 years ago at The Gym in Cedar Falls at the urging of her then teenage children.
“I have worked with the same trainer, Travis Hansen, approximately three days a week for 30 minutes,” she said.
Worthington became active in Senior Olympics in 2012 and currently holds a state record for the standing long jump with a jump of seven-foot, two-inches.
“I remember I was in a hot spot with that jump, because if I didn’t get it together it looked like I was going to get second place,” recalled Worthington. “I remember telling myself to focus, and do better. It must have worked, because second place jumped nearly a foot less!”
At the pageant, Worthington expected to treat herself to professional hair and makeup but ran into a roadblock. She forgot to make reservations for the service. Thankfully, she had packed a Ziploc baggie of “spare” makeup from home.
“Fortunately, a sister of one of the contestants helped me with eye shadows, so that I would have “pageant eyes” like the other contestants,” she said.
Worthington said she heard that the first “cut” at the Mrs. America pageant reduces the 50 contestants to 15.
“I’m not sure I’m of the caliber to make the cut,” she said. “I have a lot to learn when it comes to stage work if I want to be competitive. If anything, I’ll be glad simply to be there.” “Of course, if it happens (or doesn’t) is not guaranteed,” added Worthington. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
For more information on the Mrs. America Pageant, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._America_(contest)