By CHUCK CISSEL
TV ANCHOR: Beth Rengel with her KOTV Channel 6 news team in the 1990s. From left are co-news anchor Clayton Vaughn, weatherman Jim Giles and sportscaster John Walls.
It’s rare to spend time with a public figure you knew from their past success and wished, one day, you’d have the chance to spend time talking with them. Recently, that became a reality for me when I had that opportunity to sit down with the lovely Beth Rengel. Our conversation centered on her new book, “Anchored In Illusion.” Just as I thought, I found Beth to be genuine, comfortable in her own skin and easy to talk to. It was a refreshingly candid interview.
With her natural beauty and talent, doors to her dreams opened, and she worked hard to put herself in a position to take advantage of opportunities and to reach for her goals. For years many of you will recall Ms. Rengel as a news anchorwoman on Channel 6, Channel 8 and Channel 2. She is also remembered for when she was crowned Miss Texas in 1972 and her third-place runner-up to Miss America in 1973. Beth was quite successful, as well, anchoring the news in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia. For a young woman with simple beginnings from Wichita Falls, Texas, Beth Rengel is an American success story.
Her narrative began when she was dropped off by her dad and mom in Houston, Texas, to enter the Miss Astros contest (Houston Astros). Beth walked into the pageant world unsure of what was to come, a bit scared and a novice. But she had heart, determination and a strong desire to learn the ropes of the pageant world. She put in the time and hard work, and soon became a force to be reckoned with among her contemporaries on the pageant circuit. Her goal was to win and man did she ever: Miss Astros, Miss Texas and almost Miss America. Though she was a bona fide winner, Beth shared that for many years, she hid behind the illusion of perfection in her career paths and in her personal relationships. Though Beth enjoyed the trappings of national success for many years, she finally came to terms with what was stirring deep within her soul. She struggled with insecurities, loneliness, failures, and had to outsmart and maneuver herself around the male-dominated broadcast journalism industry, which was no easy task. Beth said it took her a long time to wise up and realize that her life had been anchored in a façade. The false images that many of us often portray to the people around us – the masks we all wear. We lose ourselves in titles, labels, careers, our mates, driving a certain car, designer labels, living in the big house – “Anchored In Illusion.”
Looking back, she recalled when the light bulb came on:, “When I lost my identity – I had quite the career at Channel 6; a public resignation, I left my marriage, raised my daughter and sent her off to college, my mother was ill, and my sister had cancer. I woke up to the fact that I could not control everything any longer. I clearly understood I did not have the labels anymore (wife, TV anchor, mom). I also moved out of a three floor mansion in midtown Tulsa and went back to being a single lady. It was not an easy period in my life and there were many unanswered questions, thoughts of failure and disappointments, yet I searched to find the answers. I had to keep moving forward.”
Beth pondered her next steps and the direction for her life’s journey. She remembered the pearls of wisdom her family often imparted and how their input helped to change Beth’s outlook on life. Her grandmother would often tell her, “You don’t regret the things you do, but the things you don’t do.” Her dad said, “If you fail, it’s better than a kick in the rear,” and her mother told her, “You’ll never know unless you try.” As fate would have it, Beth met nationally-acclaimed author and motivational speaker Jim Stovall, who impressed her with his wisdom, kindness of heart and guidance. Mr. Stovall asked Beth, “What does Beth Rengel want to do for the rest of her life?” Beth did not know because she felt she’d lost her identity. Stovall then asked Beth to write down the 10 most pivotal moments that changed her life. After listening to Beth share her life journey, Stovall encouraged her to communicate her story in the form of a book. Beth said, “A book? You think I should write a book?” Mr. Stovall stated, “You have a story to tell that many will be able to relate to, women of all ages. You got knocked down; more importantly, you got back up. That’s powerful.”
The meeting with Mr. Stovall was a game changer and an empowering, life-affirming moment for Beth, so much so, it brought tears to her eyes. A new direction was on the horizon. Though it took eight years for Beth to complete “Anchored In Illusion,” she has written a very personal and inspirational memoir that both men and women can relate to and certainly one that will empower women of all ages. According to Beth’s bio, “She gives you a road map to examine your own illusions of perfection and to see behind the masks we all wear. Follow your dreams, wherever they take you, but don’t get caught up in the illusions of life.”
I admire women who succeed in this male-driven society. Too often women are not recognized for their intelligence, genius, creativity and strength. I tip my hat to Beth Rengel, because she is, indeed, a true champion and a phenomenal woman.
– You can catch an interview with Beth Rengel on Chicago’s Wednesday, June 21. You can meet Beth Rengel in person on Friday, June 16 at the Tulsa Press Club. Beth will sign her new book, “Anchored in Illusion,” 5 to 7 p.m.
If you would like to order her book, go to bethrengel.com
The author, Chuck Cissel, has performed on Broadway as an American singer, dancer, director, choreographer and producer. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, he is the former of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.