Perhaps Dunwoody’s most visible expert on manners, etiquette and gallantry, Dolores Hopkins Lauderdale now has a new title.
The 63-year-old mother of four, grandmother and tireless Dunwoody volunteer was crowned Ms. Senior Georgia by the Georgia Classic Club last month at its 25th annual pageant. Nearly 45 members of her family and tennis team were there to cheer her on.
Open to women 60 or older throughout Georgia, the pageant’s mission is to promote a positive image of aging focusing on active, enthusiastic and dynamic seniors.
An active ALTA tennis player who works out with weights and cardio regularly and loves to snow ski, Lauderdale easily checks the active box. But she further wowed the judges with her engaging smile and elegant demeanor, her passion for grace and a song and tap dance routine to “Singing in the Rain.”
Held at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, judging for the four-day event included an interview with five judges, talent and evening gown competitions, statement of principle, platform and onstage question.
She’s not completely new to pageants. She competed in the Atlanta Junior Miss pageant and twice in the Miss DeKalb County competition in her teens and early 20s, and was named “Miss Congeniality” in each pageant.
“But it’s not about the pageantry for me. It’s my simplicity that I prefer to shine,” she said. “I’m excited at the opportunity to represent seniors as vibrant, productive, active and talented members of society.”
In Dunwoody, Lauderdale has served as the event and sales manager for the historic Cheek-Spruill Farmhouse and is the vice president of events for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust. She serves as an ambassador for the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce and an active volunteer at Marist and with the Women’s Build for Habitat for Humanity.
She’s also an independent consultant of corporate etiquette and protocol for businesses across the state and an instructor at the American School of Protocol where she teaches classes to children and to business men and women in everything from table manners to corporate dress and business protocol. In addition, she trains others to be etiquette consultants.
The past few weeks she has been busy teaching professionalism and manners to students at downtown Atlanta’s new Cristo Rey High School, a Jesuit-based high school fully supported by donations and open to low-income students. She also teaches professionalism workshops to the faculty and students at Marist.
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of others’ feelings,” said Lauderdale. “If you have good manners, it doesn’t matter what fork you use. Manners are simply based on kindness to one another.”
“We’ve got to get back to talking conversations,” she added, noting that conversations via texts and social media and best manners practices do not always go hand in hand.
Her biggest pet peeve? Rude people on cell phones in public places.
A fourth-generation Atlantan, Lauderdale was married to the late Douglas C. Lauderdale for 28 years before she was widowed in 2002. Their four children attended Marist School where they were both active volunteers.
The daughter of a surgeon — Dr. William A. Hopkins who performed the first heart surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital — Lauderdale grew up in Decatur and attended St. Thomas More and St. Pius X ;High School.
She was a flight attendant with Northwest following college. She was named “top flight attendant” by her peers and later served as the supervisor, base manager and flight attendant instructor for the airline.
On stage, Lauderdale was asked, “Who was the one person who most influenced your life?”
“Without question, my mother,” she answered. “She was a true southern lady.”
Indeed a true southern lady herself, Dolores Lauderdale has been committed to bringing manners back into vogue since I’ve known her. I’m more excited than ever to watch her do it in her new tiara.