Former Miss America runner-up Kathy Manning dies from COVID-19 at age 59

Kathy Manning, who was named Miss Mississippi 1984 and went on to a career as a model and singer, died Dec. 23. She was 59.

Manning died from COVID-19 at a hospital in Collierville, Tenn., according to her obituary. She had been fighting the disease for several weeks.

In 1984, Manning won the Miss Mississippi pageant as a 22-year-old psychology student at the University of Mississippi. At the following Miss America pageant, she was second runner-up for the crown.

“During her high school, college and recent grad years, she was known as Mississippi’s Sweetheart,” her obituary reads. “And after moving to Memphis, many people viewed her as the heart of the city.”

Manning modeled for brands including Coppertone and Maybelline, and she went on tour internationally with the USO. She was also active in the community in many ways, including singing at Sunday services, baptisms and weddings.

Additionally, Manning worked as a weather reporter at Memphis Fox affiliate WHBQ.

“For the many people who knew her, she was someone who loved to connect with people from many different walks of life — and really get to know them for who they are and what brought them joy,” her obituary read.

More than 800,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19.