Hassinger named Fifty Fourth Royal Lady


March 9th, 2017 in Royal Ladies

Leavenworth native Cindy Hassinger has been named the Royal Lady of the Autumn Leaves for 2017. Being the Royal Lady never really crossed her mind. Her mother, Pauline Watson, was the Royal Lady in 1980. Her sister-in-law, Nancy Watson, was Royal Lady in 2011.

“I happened to be here from England when mom was selected for Royal Lady. I never thought about it because it was always somebody older. I don’t think that should be me, still. I’m not old enough to be Royal Lady,” Hassinger said, with a chuckle. “But I am way older than when she was Royal Lady. She was 55.”

Hassinger was born and raised in Leavenworth. She married Ron Hassinger, an Air Force man. They’ve lived all over the U.S. and Europe. They moved back to the area about 23 years ago.

She and her husband built the Alpenrose Inn. That was sold two years ago. Since then, she’s been basically retired. So the offer to become the Royal Lady did come as a surprise.

“We were out of the business world and stuff like that around town. We were just going to be laid back and retire, so it was a surprise,” Hassinger said. “It is about three emotions all at the same time. They are asking me. That is such an honor. The next emotion was, I can’t do that. I don’t know how to do that. Then, it was like, they asked, maybe I should do it. It is a way to give back. Then, I need to ask my husband because he will be very involved.”

She wanted to find out more about it, but because of the secrecy, she was limited.

“You kind of know what goes on, but not exactly. I asked if I could talk to them and get a packet. I wanted to know what I’m getting into and make sure I can do everything. It was a whole bunch of emotions,” Hassinger said. “I really only talked to the one person that asked me. Then, she asked who I wanted to have as my companion.”

Her companion is longtime friend, Pat Rutledge, the 2009 Royal Lady. Hassinger found out a lot about being Royal Lady from the packet, which is written up very well about the duties and different festivals.

She and Ron had planned to do some traveling this summer, so she figured to simply replace that with the Royal Lady schedule. After October, then they’ll go on vacation. After accepting, one of the first things she had to do was plan her dress.

“It was a hard job. It was way harder than I thought. I went to Seattle once. We went to tons of fabric stores. I couldn’t find anything I thought was appropriate,” Hassinger said. “The tones were turquoise and blue. I would rather have something in red. It was difficult for me to think and find what I thought was appropriate and that I liked and it was me.”

Mary Rose had long been the favored seamstress of the Royal Ladies over the years, but she was now retired. Hassinger asked her anyway.

“She hasn’t been doing them lately. I started out with who I was, who my mom was. I think that helped. Please help me out and do it. She agreed to do it. She was so familiar with all the different designs,” Hassinger said.

Interestingly, Rose did not create her mother’s dress. When Pauline Watson was having her dress made, the sleeves were not right. So she took the dress to Mary Rose to redo the sleeves.

“Mary Rose is like a fairy godmother to the Royal Ladies,” Rutledge said.

Initially, Hassinger showed Rose three different fabrics, but it was not right. Finally, they found one that worked. Ron and Cindy have two grown daughters, Debbie and Kristin, who live in the Seattle area.

Taking the secrecy very seriously, not even the daughters know.

“I’ve known since the end of October. That is a long time. I have not told anyone. I don’t know if I’ll tell my daughters ahead of time. I think I’m going to put it Facebook afterwards,” she said. “I probably could tell Lynn (Watson, brother). I have told my hairdresser. She kind of has to know, so I can make sure to get my hair done. I thought about not mentioning it to her, but if she wants to do something different with my hair, she would kill me if I didn’t tell her. She’s like a sister.”In terms of the Royal Lady Gala, Hassinger believes it will be fun.

“That will be the first part. Now, it is still the worrisome. Am I going to do it right? Will I do what is expected? Once that starts, everybody will know. Then, I can ask people advice. It will be fun. It is an honor,” Hassinger said.

Hassinger thinks will be fun to get back out there after being retired for a couple years. She thinks her announcement will come as a big surprise. “People are always guessing. Four years ago, Ed (Rutledge) came up and asked if I was the Royal Lady.

I’ve only had one other person ask me that. It was at a Christmas dinner event. I wasn’t sure if she already knew,” she said.