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Evelyn Ay was raised in Ephrata Pennsylvania, and graduated from Ephrata High School. She attended The University of Pennsylvania where she met and became engaged to Carl Sempier. Evelyn represented the state of Pennsylvania in the Miss America Pageant and became Miss America 1954. Upon her crowning, her father announced, "This could happen only in America!" She remains the last Pennsylvanian to hold the title. Evelyn endeared herself to many audiences as she travelled and made speeches nationwide. She was known as an enchanting and captivating speaker.
In 1954, during the Golden Era of television, the Miss America Pageant was broadcast live for the very first time. That broadcast broke viewership records of the day with 39 percent of the television audience (27 million viewers) viewing the Miss America telecast.
After her reign, Evelyn remained active in the pageant community, judging at the local, state and national level, advocating for the pageant as the country's leading source of scholarship for young women. Evelyn's experiences and her flare for communicating and telling stories, captivated diverse audiences throughout the community. From Brownie troops, to Business Associations and Christian Associations, Evelyn shared her message of learning to laugh at life's experiences, living life gracefully and allowing your faith in God to guide you. Throughout her life, Evelyn lived out her faith as a Bible study and devotional leader at her church and in local nursing homes. In addition she supported various local non-profit organizations. Her retirement years found her an active volunteer in the Paoli Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, holding Board positions, chairing annual fundraisers, and volunteering with her friends at The Palm Tree Thrift Shop.
Evelyn's most treasured past time was to spend the day at her home in her garden. Blooming flowers and gardening brought her the joy and satisfaction of being close to the land and to nature. She was always joined in her garden by the "Big Dogs" in her life as the Great Danes stood guard nearby. While her Miss America role may have been her most widely recognized one, she was always the most proud of her roles as Mother, Wife and Nana. Evelyn's greatest love was of her daughters, Carlyn and Stacy and her joy was in her grandchildren Charlotte and Drew.
At the age of 75, Evelyn passed away at her home in Malvern, Pennsylvania on Saturday October 18, 2008. Evelyn was the wife of the late Carl G. Sempier and is remembered as "Our Own" Miss America 1954.