Oldest Tournament of Roses queen, Margaret Jayne Huntley Main, dies at 102

Oldest Living Tournament of Roses Queen, Margaret Jayne Huntley Main, Passes Away at 102

Margaret Jayne Huntley Main, the oldest living Tournament of Roses queen, has passed away at the age of 102. Main, who died of what appears to be natural causes, passed away on Friday in an assisted-living facility in Auburn, according to her family.

Main’s dream of becoming queen began at a young age when she watched her first Rose Parade and drew inspiration from Fay Lanphier, the 1926 queen who was also named Miss America. She fulfilled her dream when she was named the 1940 Rose Queen while studying at Pasadena City College. Main fondly remembered her experience riding the float, which brought her to tears.

As the “Vintage Queen,” Main held the title of the oldest living Tournament of Roses queen in history. Throughout her lifetime, she had the opportunity to meet almost every other Rose Queen, from Hallie Woods in 1905 to Camille Kennedy in 2020. Her final correspondence was with the 2024 Rose Queen, Naomi Stillitano, congratulating her on her coronation.

Born on June 1, 1921, in Los Angeles, Main grew up in poverty during the Great Depression. Her family lost everything and had to move from a large Pasadena home to a small shack. Despite the challenges, Main persevered and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and multiple master’s degrees. She worked as a kindergarten teacher in Orangevale for over 20 years and authored a six-book early childhood multicultural curriculum that was adopted by the state of California.

Main’s life could have taken a different turn when Howard Hughes offered her the lead role in his 1943 western film, “The Outlaw.” However, Main declined the offer to pursue a different path. She was secretly engaged to her future husband, Robert, at the time, and her disinterest in Hollywood led to Jane Russell landing the role.

Main remained a mainstay of the parade, appearing annually on the float built for past queens and attending coronations until she retired from travel in 2019. In 1989, she authored a book titled “A Rose Queen Is Forever: The Story of Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses and Its Queens.”

Main is survived by her three children, John, Martin, and Sandra, as well as seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and her sister, Alyce Main Levy. Her legacy as the longest-living Rose Queen will forever shine as a testament to her dedication to the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Court tradition.

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