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From Ellsworth to the Mrs. America pageant: Gray finishes second runner-up

Ruth, with husband Jon and two-year-old son Nash during the Mrs. America pageant last month in Tucson, Arizona.

Ruth Gray didn’t think pageants would ever be part of her future until a friend planted the seed.

The friend, Gray explained, convinced her as a stay-at-home mom this would give her a chance to reconnect with the adult world after having a baby, which Gray had two years ago.

The 1996 Ellsworth High School graduate decided to give it a go and rode it all the way to the national Mrs. America pageant where she was named second runner-up last month in Tucson, Arizona.

“This was a once-in-lifetime experience,” Gray said. “I’m one and done.”


Gray has called Las Vegas home for the last 11 years.

“I was tired of the weather,” she said, which spearheaded the move out west. She said she when made the move she guessed California, Arizona and Texas would be other places to live besides Las Vegas.

Plans changed when she married Jon, a Vice President for Caesars Entertainment, four years ago. Two years ago they became parents when Nash was born.

Ruth joked Nash has two mommies as her twin sister Ryan also lives in Las Vegas.

“Ryan and I are identical, and look so much alike Nash sometimes called Ryan “Mommy,” she said.

Ruth was named Mrs. Nevada back in February, which qualified her for the Mrs. America pageant.

The Mrs. America pageant doesn’t have a talent competition, which is one of the big differences from the Miss America pageant.

The interview portion, she explained, was 50 percent of the national competition, with the rest split up being swimsuit/evening gown and costume. Ruth added the costume had to be representative of your state. So, thanks to Ryan’s help, the dress was designed with a Vegas theme, with cards and a royal flush.

“It was pretty cool,” Ruth said.

Ruth admitted nerves were not an issue until the final three were announced with her, Mrs. Texas and Mrs. Idaho.      

“At that point I was trying not to embarrass myself,” she said. She took comfort in her second runner-up finish after hearing Mrs. Texas (the winner) and Mrs. Idaho (first runner-up) had been in multiple pageants prior to this one. It’s the highest a Mrs. Nevada has ever placed in the pageant’s history.  

What’s next

Ruth’s platform revolved around health and fitness, two topics important to her. She competed in track and field in high school, which enabled her to get a scholarship to St. Cloud State University. She later finished her elementary education degree from UW-River Falls.

“Continuing with my competitive edge, I am proud to say I have completed seven marathons: one being the Boston Marathon in three hours and 15 minutes,” she said.

She is proud to be in the process of implementing Let’s Get Moving, a program inspiring youth to be active and strong along with being involved in Special Olympics and Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas.

“It’s truly been an honor to work with Special Olympics,” she said. “Being with these wonderful athletes has taught me the importance of not taking anything for granted and to be grateful for everything I have been blessed with.”    

Ruth still has relatives in the Ellsworth area, including her parents, a sister and aunts and uncles.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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