Joni Lynn McMechan
Joni Lynn McMechan was born on May 5, 1967, and was welcomed home by her parents, James Arthur McMechan and Charla Joy Major McMechan, and her brother James Michael McMechan. Joni resided at the McMechan farmstead near Cottage Grove in Union County, Indiana, for sixteen years.
Active in 4-H, Joni especially enjoyed the flower, foods, cats and swine projects. In fact, she exhibited the Reserve Grand Champion Yorkshire Barrow at the Indiana State Fair two years in a row.
At the Dixon Dance Studio in Liberty, Joni studied ballet and gymnastics. Vocal lessons were taken under the tutelage of Lucy Bendson, Dr. Alan Montgomery, and Linda Brinkerhoff.
Mike Fisher cast Joni in Union County High School’s productions of “The Sound of Music” and “H.M.S. Pinafore.” Even as a young teen, Joni appeared in summer stock theater plays with the Nettlecreek Players, a company that attracted musical theater performers from colleges all over the United States. Years later she was invited to play the lead role of Maid Marion in the world’s premier production of “Robin Hood.” Also Joni performed with the Richmond Civic Theater, The Whitewater Opera Company, and was cast in the lead role of “Heidi,” the musical production, with the Junior Players.
After attending the renowned Interlochen Music Camp, Joni was selected t o enroll at the Interlochen Arts Academy as a junior and senior high school student. Majoring in vocal performance and business management, Joni graduated from Northwest University in Evanston, Illinois. At college, the music department encouraged Joni to enter the Northwestern University Scholarship Pageant where she was crowned Miss Northwestern University by the reigning Miss America. Representing Northwestern University, she competed in the Miss Illinois Pageant where she was named the first runner-up to Miss Illinois.
Preferring to represent her home state, Joni returned to Indiana in 1987 to vie for a local pageant title at Vincennes University where she was named Miss Central Indiana. Joni extended endless energy, effort and enthusiasm to prepare for the Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant competition practicing interview skills, modeling techniques, and her vocal performance. In Michigan City, Joni won the preliminaries in the talent and swim suit categories and confidently faced the interview judges. With numerous friends in attendance, Joni was crowned Miss Indiana 1988 at the Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant.
Joni signed a contract as Miss Indiana and appeared at festivals, fairs, parades, workshops, and store openings throughout Indiana. Joni McMechan Day was declared at the Indiana Statehouse where Joni met Governor Bayh. In Atlantic City, Joni competed in the ten day Miss America Pageant. Presented with a sizable college scholarship, Joni was invited to sing at Miss America’s Homecoming Part and to head up a USO tour to Southeast Asia.
While living in Chicago, Joni served as Assistant Director of Admissions at Northwestern University, as Assistant Director of Annual Giving for Northwestern University School of Law as a business manager with the Ravinia Festival Association with an office in Grant Park and as Assistant Director of Public Relations at Steppenwolf Theater.
Desiring to continue her education, she studied interior design at the noted Harrington School of Design in Chicago. Joni was employed a marketing coordinator of an interior design firm in Chicago. In Ontario, California, she held an interior designer position with a large architectural company where she designed interior space for commercial buildings, hotels, and interstate rest stops. Now located in St. Louis, Joni has her own interior design business.
On May 29, 1993, Joni and Dr. Paul Checchia were united in marriage in a lovely ceremony at Northwestern’s University Chapel. A son, Andrew Michael Checchia was born in Redlands, California, on November 9, 2000. Currently Joni volunteers at Andrew’s school, entertains friends and staff of Washington University’s Children Hospital, manages her interior design business, and enjoys vacations with her family- especially in Europe and back at the Indiana farmstead.
September 10, 2008
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