Heather French Henry, or Heather Renee French, or as I once knew her, just “Heather” the page designer. Or maybe the-one-who-would-not-go-out-with-us, as I would remind her.

Heather French Henry, right, and Joe Wessels

Heather and I have known each other since college, where she was the very kind, very capable DAAP fashion design major and, apparently, a beauty pageant contestant who happened to kill some time doing ad design and layout at the illustrious University of Cincinnati student newspaper, The News Record. That also happened to be the same student newspaper where I cut my teeth in journalism, was the assistant photo editor and one of the many admirers of From Cincinnati’s second guest.

We talk about this in the show, but she went on to do something kinda significant – just a few short news cycles after she and I would occasionally grab a pizza slice and drink together at The Rhine Room (a former Tangeman University Center establishment, for you youngins’ out there).

That “something” happened to be – while everyone waited for Donny and Marie Osmond to manufacture a little history – being crowned freakin’ Miss America 2000. And now I know why she would always diss us amid our repeated invitations to join us on college weekend nights just so she could compete in a beauty pageant. Turns out there was actually something to that (and it wasn’t just because we weren’t cool enough). Go figure?

Heather French Henry and Joe Wessels sit down inside the Holiday Inn in Bowling Green, Ky. during her campaign for Kentucky's Secretary of State to record an episode of From Cincinnati.
Heather and Joe record at the Holiday Inn in Bowling Green, Ky.

Heather is as nice and kind and smart and funny and forthcoming as she was back in the late 1990s. It was fun to catch up with her again while she was on the campaign trail this fall – running for Kentucky’s Secretary of State (a race she eventually lost). We met at, of all places, a Holiday Inn in Bowling Green, Ky.

It was great to catch up with her and hear her amazing story – from growing up in Augusta, Ky. horsing around with her old neighbor, George Clooney, to marrying the then-Lt. Gov. of the state of Kentucky – 21 years her senior – Steve Henry. They’re still married, have two kids, work hard and seem to have fun doing it.

Thank you for listening to From Cincinnati. Special thanks to Chris Collier, a Cincinnati musician, raw talent and a great person for allowing us to use her music in today’s episode. Thanks, Chris!

Heather French Henry: Miss America 2000, politician
From Cincinnati

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