Miss America Pageant Historian Ric Ferentz died on November 30 in New York City. Ric had an encyclopedic knowledge of the pageant's rich history and became a mentor and friend to many Miss America contestants.
Ric, who had a lively wit and a huge heart, was also a close friend of mine. I met him in the mid-1990s when we both worked at the Chelsea Pines Inn, a gay bed and breakfast in New York City.
I don't think I've ever known anyone like him.
Ric liked to refer to himself as a “tough broad” who loved “real men.” The love of his life, Frankie, died just before I met Ric, but he was always devoted to him.
Ric was quick with a one-liner and reminded me of both Mae West and Gena Rowlands' gun-toting Gloria Swenson in the film Gloria — one of Ric's favorite actresses and movie characters. Like Gloria, he was tough as nails, but also very sensitive to the plight of any kind of misfit.
Without going too deeply into details, Ric was given an extremely tough situation to deal with when he was younger because he was gay and effeminate. But he rose out of that with a college education, his important work as a historian for the Miss America Pageant, and a job as a manager at the Chelsea Pines Inn.
A book was based on Ric's life, but he would never give me the title or the name of the author — he made a promise to the writer that he wouldn't reveal that information. Ric was big on keeping promises.
When we worked at the Chelsea Pines Inn together, Ric and I often discussed life, love, movies, and art. The most important things he taught me were to have fun, keep moving forward in life, and to stand up for, and take care of, the so-called misfits of society.
Rest in peace, Ric. We will all miss you.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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