Inaugural Miss Vietnam runner-up Nguyen Thu Mai passes away

By Ha Thu   February 20, 2024 | 12:37 am PT
Nguyen Thu Mai, celebrated as the first runner-up in the initial Miss Vietnam contest, has died aged 54.
Miss Vietnam 1988 runner-up Nguyen Thu Mai. Photo courtesy of Miss Vietnam contest organizers

Miss Vietnam 1988 runner-up Nguyen Thu Mai. Photo courtesy of Miss Vietnam contest organizers

Artist Kim Tien, Mai’s classmate, disclosed that the beauty queen succumbed to kidney failure after battling a prolonged illness, passing away on a Monday morning. Her funeral will be held at a Hanoi funeral home, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday.

Mai is remembered for leading a serene and fulfilling life alongside her husband and daughter during her later years, imparting piano lessons to children at her residence.

Her acclaim stemmed from securing the runner-up position at the first-ever Miss Vietnam pageant in 1988, where she was distinguished as the sole runner-up.

Miss Vietnam 1988 winner Bui Bich Phuong, reminisced about Mai as a woman of considerable height with distinctive dimpled cheeks and snaggle teeth.

"Mai exuded kindness, amiability, cheerfulness, and was very accessible," Phuong remarked.

Despite their infrequent meetings over the years, Phuong shared that they cherished warm and fond recollections of each other.

Phuong nostalgically referred to her memories with Mai as a "film of radiant youth," characterized by their vivacity, innocence, and purity. She vowed to eternally remember Mai as an epitome of elegance, beauty, gentleness, and kindness, emblematic of a Hanoi woman.

"I will never forget her soulful eyes and gentle smile," Phuong added, extending her deepest sympathies to Mai’s husband Cong, their daughter, and the rest of her family, wishing for Mai’s peaceful repose.

Mai was an alumnus of the Military University of Culture and Arts, where she specialized in piano, and was the daughter of stage actress Meritorious Artist Thuy Chi.

The Miss Vietnam beauty pageant, launched by Tien Phong Newspaper in 1988, has since been a prestigious event. Media company Sen Vang Productions, taking charge of the pageant’s production since 2014, has also acquired the rights to delegate contest winners to participate in the Miss World competition.

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