Mardi Gras royalty

Members of this year’s Paris-Henry County Heritage Center Mardi Gras royal court, as well as last year’s king and queen, talk and laugh Wednesday at the Heritage Center. This year’s celebration will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Paris Country Club. Pictured (from left) are Steve Dial, Dr. Louisa Conroy, last year’s queen Sherry Norman, last year’s king Andrew Norman, Kasey Muench, Ryan Muench, Dr. Stephanie Wardlaw and Mark Wardlaw.

The Paris-Henry County Heritage Center will host its annual Mardi Gras celebration beginning at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Paris Country Club.

The event will begin with a happy hour until 7 p.m., when a New Orleans-Cajun inspired dinner will be served. Dancing will begin at about 8 p.m. A silent auction will be ongoing throughout the evening.

Tickets are $45 until Saturday, then will be $50 until the event. They may be purchased at the Heritage Center, Lura Lee’s or Jack’s Java.

Suggested attire is fancy dress, with a creative or festive spin for the holiday.

Three local couples will be members of this year’s royalty, and voters may cast ballots for Mardi Gras king and queen. The couples are:

• Ryan and Kasey Muench.

Kasey Muench is the daughter of Lisa K. Fitzsimmons of Paris and the late Jimmy Fitzsimmons. She is the granddaughter of Allene Fitzsimmons and the late Fitz Fitzsimmons, and the late Jimmie and Bonnie Wiles, all of Paris.

She graduated in 2003 from Henry County High School and received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in graphic design in 2007 from the University of Memphis.

When she graduated, Muench received the Carson Circle award, which recognizes a select number of graduating seniors who exemplify Donald K. Carson’s ideals of making the university a better place through involvement and leadership on campus.

She was instrumental in organizing two local events: the Meet the Patriots Tailgate and the Miss Paris Volunteer Pageant.

She is employed as community relations director at the Paris-Henry County Chamber of Commerce.

Ryan Muench is the son of Doug and Tammy Muench and Tommy and Amy Foust, all of Paris. He is the grandson of the late Richard and Karen Bruno of Belleville, Ill., and of Bill Schreiber of New Athens, Ill., and the late Betty Schreiber.

He graduated in 2004 from HCHS and received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science in 2008 from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville.

He was an offensive lineman for the Golden Eagles football team from 2004-08.

He has coached high school football for the past 12 years and is employed as a driver’s education teacher and assistant football coach at HCHS.

He owns AGM Aerial Inspections, a preventative maintenance and storm assessment company.

The Muenches are members of First Christian Church in Paris.

They married in May 2011 and live in Paris. They have two children — Aubrey, 4, and Graham, 2.

• Louisa Conroy and Steve Dial.

Dr. Conroy and Dial recently moved to Paris from Hendersonville, N.C., to be close to family living in Henry County and Clarksville. The pair live next to the Heritage Center.

Conroy was raised in Clarksville and graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis. After nearly a decade, she pursued her dream of becoming a medical doctor.

She graduated from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center for medical school, the University of North Carolina for residency and the University of Arizona for a fellowship in integrative medicine.

After practicing as a hospitalist and a primary care physician in North Carolina, she joined the Griffey Clinic in the summer.

Dial was born and raised in rural Lincoln County, W.Va. He received a bachelor of arts from Marshall University before entering the Army.

He initially served as an Army Ranger, but spent the remainder of his career as an Army aviator. He worked in a variety of locales in his career, including the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Central America and the Caribbean.

Following his military service, he found a second career in construction and facilities that led to his position as logistics manager for Fort Campbell School.

After retiring, Dial moved to be with Conroy and work on restoring their 1925 bungalow in the West Historic District of Hendersonville.

While Conroy practices at the Griffey Clinic, Dial works on their new historic home on Poplar Street and spends much of his time shepherding their dogs and cats.

The couple enjoys many hobbies including exploring the outdoors and the natural beauty of the world, supporting national parks and attempting to establish a miniature prairie in their backyard.

• Stephanie and Mark Wardlaw.

Dr. Stephanie Wardlaw was raised in a “Little House on the Prairie,” according to her husband, in southern Minnesota.

She later traveled to the Twin Cities to be a veterinary student. She was chosen as president of her veterinary fraternity.

With a doctorate in veterinary medicine and a master’s degree in poultry medicine, she began working in a small animal practice.

She met Mark Wardlaw, from the Tennessee River region, when they stumbled across each other by chance, and had what he called a quick courtship.

After they moved to Paris, more than a decade later, the Wardlaws are now raising two children and own Lakeway Animal Clinic.

The couple say they still embrace the small town lifestyle with their family.

They hope to share and give back through the years as much as they have been given here in the Paris community.

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