She’s smart, she’s funny and she just represented Arizona in the National Ms. Senior America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.
Pat Thielen-Warren, crowned Ms. Senior Arizona last March, didn’t bring home the national title, but she reports she had a terrific time meeting the 50 other contestants who are 60 years of age and older.
“It was a good experience, Thielen-Warren said.
“I was completely flabbergasted to even win the state pageant. But to know that I was representing the Arizona senior community at a national pageant, I was so puffed up with pride, you wouldn’t believe it. That was good enough for me.”
Thielen-Warren works as general manager of the Twin Palms Hotel in Tempe. It’s a job she’s loved for the past 16 years.
Right now she is preparing to welcome the Broadway cast of The Adams Family to Twin Palms. The hotel sits across from Grady Gammage Auditorium on Apache Boulevard and draws cast members from many of the shows.
“It’s such fun,” Theilen-Warren said. “The show people stay here and I think that’s what keeps me young, being around all these young people. I also have a lot of students from ASU who work for me and we have some fun.”
A few of Thielen-Warren’s favorite guests include Jo Anne Worley from the ‘60s show Laugh-In and Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers singing group.
In addition to her job, Theilen-Warren is well known in Tempe for her tireless volunteer work. She is on the Tempe Tourism board of directors, Tempe Leadership board and the Fiesta Bowl Committee. She is also a retired Chamber of Commerce board member.
Theilen-Warren said she approaches all these activities with what she considers her God-given talent: a sense of humor.
“You can do a good job and be professional and still enjoy your work,” Theilen-Warren said.
“My father was a barber. I don’t know if he was a very good barber, but he stayed busy all the time because he told jokes the whole time he was cutting hair.
“His philosophy of life was, ‘Always look for humor in every situation. There’s no situation that can’t be fixed with a good attitude and a really big hammer.’”
Theilen-Warren grew up in the South and was sent to finishing school in Memphis. She worked as a model in the ‘60s, appearing in hair-styling ads for Vidal Sassoon and others. She gained much experience with make-up, modeling, manners and public speaking, which she says helped her in the Ms. Senior Arizona Pageant.
She said she’d like to find a way to pass on her knowledge, so she’s starting a finishing school for seniors who are interested in entering the pageant.
“Someone told me, I love the way you walk,” Theilen-Warren said.
“I said, that walk cost my daddy $20,000. Everyone didn’t have the opportunity I had to go to finishing school and learn social graces.”
Theilen-Warren said she has no plans to slow down or retire.
“I don’t know what I would do with myself,” she said. “I’m one of those terrible Type A personalities. I will continue to volunteer and be part of the community.”
Theilen-Warren notes that she’s seen many changes in Tempe over the past 20 years.
“The thing that has changed Tempe the most is Tempe Town Lake,” Theilen-Warren said.
“Being on the Tempe Tourism Board, tourism is close to my heart. Tempe needs a convention center. As big as we are now, as much as we’ve grown, we have so many national events now that come to Tempe—we could get more of them if we had a place to house them.”
She said that with as much as Tempe has grown, it still has that small-town community feel.
“Everybody knows everybody and everybody pitches in,” said Theilen-Warren, who can be seen driving her 1920s Mercedes roadster in city parades.
“So many people volunteer, it’s just amazing. People who live here really care about the city and they do everything they can to make sure it stays a rich, vibrant city.”
The organization that sponsors the Ms. Senior Arizona Pageant is the Cameo Club. Members do volunteer work for various local charities. To obtain tickets to the Cameo Ball on Jan. 26, call 602-788-9556. For more information on Theilen-Warren’s Finishing School for over-60s, email Pat at email@example.com.