Where did the baby name Lencola come from in 1980?

Lencola Sullivan, Miss Arkansas 1980
Lencola Sullivan

In 1980, the baby name Lencola popped up in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time:

  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: 10 baby girls named Lencola [debut]
  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted


Because of beauty queen Lencola Sullivan.

Lencola was born Orean Lencola Sullivan in Morrilton, Arkansas, in 1957.

She was the first African American to win four different pageants: Miss Morrilton (1977), Miss University of Central Arkansas (1978), Miss White River (1979), and Miss Arkansas (1980).

She was crowned Miss Arkansas on her third attempt, in August of 1980. For the talent portion of the competition, she sang “Saint Louis Blues” by W. C. Handy.

She sang the song again one month later, while competing in the 1981 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. Though she didn’t win the preliminary talent competition (or the preliminary evening gown competition), she did win the preliminary swimsuit competition.

She ended up placing fourth runner-up overall in the pageant — “the highest placement achieved by an African-American contestant up to that time.”

What are your thoughts on the name Lencola?

P.S. These days, Lencola Sullivan is living in the Netherlands and working “as a diversity and inclusion trainer and tax office manager” for Royal Dutch Shell. If you’d like to say hello, she’s @lencola on Twitter.

Sources: Up Close with Lencola Sullivan ’79 – UCA Magazine, Orean Lencola Sullivan – Encyclopedia of Arkansas, SSA
Image: Screenshot of the 1981 Miss America competition [vid]

[Latest update: 6/2023]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.