The Beauty Queen Who Helped Restart The Dipsea

Miss Marin posing with group with Dipsea trophies, 1946

Until this year the last time the Dipsea went so long between races World War II had ended but the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce had a “bombshell” ready to promote its return.

The Dipsea was not held from 1942-45 because of a military presence on Mt. Tamalpais following the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor, according to Dipsea historian, author, and finish line announcer Barry Spitz. However, evidently race organizers felt like they needed to make a big splash to reintroduce the Dipsea in 1946 and recruited a beauty queen named Jodeyn Cyr, who posed as Miss Marin for a series of photos framed with big, gleaming Dipsea race trophies and admiring males including Paul Chironi, a Dipsea champion from the 1937 race.

Jeff Westbook, one of Jodeyn’s four children, has the newspaper clippings to prove it.

“At various stages of her life, she was like Marilyn Monroe,” Jeff says.

Yet, says Jim Monroe, Jeff’s brother, “She was just mom to us.”

The photo shoot is a story in itself.

Jeff discovered that his mother was actually first runner-up for Miss Marin that year. He believes the original winner of the beauty pageant was a fix, chosen for the title based on some backroom dealings that involved some influential people with power, money and an agenda.

So, when the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce needed a centerpiece for its Dipsea promotional photo Jodeyn was chosen. For obvious reasons. She was apparently more photogenic.

“She was considered quite attractive and people who have seen her photographs when she was Miss Marin have commented on that,” Jim says. “She was a looker in those days.”

From stories told to him, Jeff says his mother aspired to be a model and/or actress. Jim says his grandmother, Meryl, Jodeyn’s mother, may have squashed her dreams.

“She told my mother that she needed to make a change in her life,” Jim says.

That change led to Jodeyn meeting her first husband, Jim Westbrook, when he was a bartender at The Office, a Mill Valley tavern on Throckmorton Avenue which eventually came to be known as the Sweetwater Saloon. Jim’s grandmother owned The Office and he remembers as a young kid helping clean up in the mornings and playing with the juke box.

Jim also remembers Dipsea runners coming into the bar after training. Not so much to drink, but to get the sweat and dirt off them.

“The reason for the arrangement is it had a full bathroom and shower in the basement and my grandmother made towels available,” says Jim, a retired clinical psychologist now living in Eugene, OR.

“We actually helped and facilitated the Dipsea Race,” Jeff quips.

The Dipsea since WWII had been held every year from 1946 until last year when the pandemic forced the Dipsea Race Committee to cancel the annual Dipsea for the first time in 79 years. Continuing public safety concerns and land permit issues caused the Dipsea Race Committee to move this year’s race – the 110th Dipsea – from June to Sunday, November 7.

The Dipsea, however, still harbors a love affair between a beauty queen and a race that now attracts 1,500 runners, instead of 42 who finished the 1946 season race that Jodeyn Cyr helped promote and resurrect.

Her post-Dipsea photo life was not as eye-catching. She worked at a one-hour dry cleaners on the Miracle Mile in San Rafael and later owned Kentfield Dry Cleaners. She was married twice and at one point was homeless. But Jodeyn’s claim to fame came in the form of newspaper clippings and family scrapbooks that eventually landed in Jeff’s hands. He posted photos of his mother, the beauty queen for the king of trail races, on Mother’s Day on his Facebook page.

“This was her shining moment. This was a great honor for all us,” says Jeff, a business professional in the technology industry, longtime musician, and owner of Nyla Studios in Santa Rosa. “She treasured that newspaper article about the Dipsea. Those photos were her achievement.”