Margaret Jayne Huntley Main, the oldest living Tournament of Roses queen, has died. She was 102.

Main died of what appear to be natural causes Friday in an assisted-living facility in Auburn, her family confirmed.

“We’re sad that we’ve lost her. She lived a long life,” said her son, Martin Main.

For Main, the dream of one day being crowned queen took root at an early age. She watched her first Rose Parade at a young age, drawing inspiration from Fay Lanphier — the 1926 queen who was also named Miss America.

“I saw my first tournament exactly when I was 5½. I remember watching the queen go down the street, and my daddy took my face and said, ‘Margaret Jayne, there’s more to the parade than the queen. Look down here,’” she recalled in an interview with CBS Los Angeles in 2021. “But he was wrong.”

Main’s dream was fulfilled when she was named the 1940 Rose Queen.

Then a student at Pasadena City College, Main fondly remembered her experience riding the float, which nearly brought her to tears.

“The float came around the corner, and there’s a little hill there, Pasadena, a million people,” she told CBS. “And the wave of love overcame me.”

Main lived to be the “Vintage Queen” — the oldest living titleholder in Tournament of Roses history. She met nearly every other Rose Queen during her lifetime, from Hallie Woods, the first to preside over the Rose Parade in 1905, to Camille Kennedy in 2020.

Her final correspondence congratulated 2024 Rose Queen Naomi Stillitano following her coronation on Oct. 27.

“Rose Queen Margaret Jayne Huntley Main, a timeless symbol of grace, will forever adorn the history of the Rose Parade,” the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Assn. said in a statement. “As the revered longest-living Rose Queen, her legacy shines as a testament to the Rose Court tradition and her unwavering dedication to the Tournament of Roses.”

Born in Los Angeles on June 1, 1921, Main told The Times that her family lost everything in the Great Depression, forcing them to move from a large Pasadena home to a nearby “shack.”

“We were very, very poor,” she said in a 1994 interview. “I can still remember my mom crying.”

Main earned a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and master’s degrees in early childhood, ethnic studies and speech and drama from Sacramento State. She went on to work as kindergarten teacher in Orangevale, northeast of Sacramento, from 1960 to 1982, and authored “From Me to We,” a six-book early childhood multicultural curriculum later adopted by the state of California.

Her life almost took a decidedly different turn, however. Following her reign, Howard Hughes offered her the lead female role in his 1943 western film “The Outlaw” — and visited her Pasadena home several times to try to persuade her to accept.

Main told the Ahwatukee Foothills News that Hughes approached her, took her by the hand and exclaimed, “Your skin is absolutely flawless!” She said Hughes told her she and her family would never want for anything if she would agree to star in the movie.

But Main declined, saying she had no interest in going to Hollywood. The part eventually went to Jane Russell and became her breakthrough role.

At the time, Main was secretly engaged to her future husband, Robert. She said Hughes gifted the couple a pair of silver candlesticks as a wedding present.

Main was 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, Main authored “A Rose Queen Is Forever: The Story of Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses and Its Queens.”

Main was preceded in death by Robert, her husband of 68 years, and their daughter, Linda Main Hack. She is survived by three children — John, Martin and Sandra — seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and her sister, Alyce Main Levy.



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