Former Miss America Vandeweghe left legacy of family, faith
Vandeweghe appeared on the cover of the June 1952 Improvement Era, a magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Inside the issue, the director of the Miss America Pageant was quoted saying that Vandeweghe was the "busiest and most popular of all Miss Americas."
The article also said as a member of the LDS Church, Vandeweghe enjoyed standing up for her beliefs. Many news reports referred to her Mormon faith, leading the authors of the Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History to describe her as "perhaps the first Latter-day Saint media 'superstar.' "
Vandeweghe remained an active Mormon and attended church services when physically able, one of her daughters said.
She met her husband, Ernie Vandeweghe, while he was a player for the New York Knicks. Three days before her death, he was baptized a member of the LDS Church. He had decided to join the church in December and wanted his wife to be at the baptism, but he postponed it to wait until all of his children could be there.
When it didn't appear they could all gather until the middle of April, it looked like he would have to pick between being baptized in front of his wife or his children.
But the Sunday before Vandeweghe died, son Kiki Vandeweghe called to say he was on his way, and everything else fell into place. Ernie Vandeweghe and the couple's 8-year-old grandson were baptized the same day.
"Heavenly Father created a miracle," Shannon said. "Our little miracle."
Sara Lenz reported on this story from Provo, Utah
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