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Crowning Moment Honors Women Who Have Made a Difference
Bob MacLeod, who told how early Blaine County had the state’s first nudist camp, assists Betty Grant as Kelli Young prepares to crown her.
Tuesday, June 14, 2022


The stretch limousine that had been scheduled to take the queens-to-be to their coronation ceremony never showed up.

But the show went on as four new Ladies were added to the Blaine County Heritage Court.

Larraine Davis, Mary Ann Flaherty, Betty Grant and Nancy Kennette were crowned with sparkling tiaras Sunday afternoon in a celebration at the Wood River High School Performing Arts Theater in the Community Campus.

Betty Grant and Larraine Davis are tickled to see a bar of chocolate in their gift bag.

The Hailey Mint stretch limousine had been scheduled to pick them up at the Ellsworth Inn where they had been posing for their official portraits. But it failed to start in the downpour that happened to be enveloping the Wood River Valley at the time.

And, so, the ladies thumbed rides with those who had presented them with gifts of candles, chocolate bar, washcloths and more, while toasting them with lemonade.

“We’re all flabbergasted when asked to join the court. We just lived our life and to be honored feels surreal,” said Pamela Rayborn, who was inducted into the court in 2019. “I especially loved the parades—after all those years of sitting on the sidelines it felt surreal to be riding in the parade and having people yell my name.”

Sue Rowland, who was inducted into the Heritage Court in 2017, concurred.

Retired Fire Chief Ron Taylor was among those congratulating Mary Ann Flaherty.

“I loved being part of it,” she said. “I’ve met many fine ladies in the valley I would not have known had it not been for the Heritage Court.”

This was the 19th annual Blaine County Heritage Court Coronation Ceremony, noted the museum’s board president Bob MacLeod.

“The Heritage Court was started by two women—Laura Hall and Teddie Dayley—who thought that it was men who had mostly been honored in our community and that it was time to honor the ladies,” he said.

Those associated with the Blaine County Historical Museum quickly became involved, he added, because, if you know the history of your area, you’re more likely to be proud of where you live and be a better citizen.

Nancy Kennette, who serves on the NAMI-WRV board and volunteers with The Hunger Coalition, is all smiles as she revels in the moment.

Even as they celebrated the addition of four new Ladies, the audience lamented the passing of two others.

Lady Esther Boyd of Bellevue passed away at her daughter’s home on May 31 just days after celebrating her 102nd birthday.

“I think she hung on just long enough to celebrate that birthday. Then she said: That’s it. I’m done,” said her granddaughter Tiffany Lamonica. “She had a long, wonderful life.”

Indeed, she was born in Carey where her grandparents had settled in 1904, after traveling there by horse and wagon to open the town’s first sawmill at Iron Mine on Fish Creek. As an adult, she helped found a food bank and served as a caregiver and companion for various senior citizens in the Wood River Valley.

Ava Knowles was among those who performed at the ceremony.

Lady Ora Lee Disbennett, who was inducted into the Heritage Court in 2007, also died in 2022 at the age of 91. She had skated to Bellevue on canals that froze over in winter. And in summer she’d ridden her horse into town from the family farm that sat just over a mile south of Bellevue. Her great grandparents had owned a dairy farm near the site of what is now St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. Disbennett herself worked as a nurse at Blaine Manor for 15 years.

Jazz vocalist and Wood River Valley native Cate Cox sang “Over the Rainbow” for the Ladies, accompanied by her father on piano. It was not only her favorite song but a song she sings every night to her 3-year-old son and soon-to-be second son, she said, patting her stomach.

Other performers included Ava Knowles and Audrey Hernandez, who performed ballet numbers from “Cinderella, and Lynne Heidel and Elaine Phillips, who performed a classical music number on violin and piano. Seven members of Colla Voce, performed “Embraceable You,” and Cody Gibbs, who is married to the granddaughter of Mary Ann Flaherty, sang the country western number “Long Black Veil.”

The ladies will ride in the Hailey Days of the Old West Fourth of July Parade, Ketchum’s Wagon Days Parade and Bellevue’s Labor Day Parade. They also will be honored with lunch at the Senior Connection and a tea at a vintage home in Bellevue.

To learn more about the four new members of the Blaine County Heritage Court, see Eye on Sun Valley’s Saturday, June 11, story: “Blaine County Heritage Court will Crown Four Women on Sunday.”

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