Mattie Juanita Smith

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mattie Juanita Smith was born the ninth of 10 children to the late Asberry and Willie Mae Wilson in Hattiesburg on April 8, 1937.

Juanita was preceded in passing by her parents, her husband of 37 years, Dr. Joseph Smith; three sisters, Corrine Wilson Hall, Willie Bell Wilson Byrd, Lela Wilson Bryant; and four brothers, Johnny Wilson, Eugene Wilson, Andrew Wilson and Arthur Wilson.

Juanita departed this life at home peacefully on Monday, June 24 at 10:27 p.m. after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease.

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She confessed her belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at an early age and joined Priest Creek Baptist Church under the direction of H.H. Smith. After migrating to Utica, she became a member of St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church under the pastorship of the late E.E. Spencer.

On August 10, 1967, she exchanged marriage vows with her devoted and loving companion Dr. Joseph Smith, and they became parents to one son Janeiro C. Smith.

Juanita received her high school education in Hattiesburg at Depriest High School, where she graduated as salutatorian in 1956. She furthered her education beneath the shade at Alcorn A&M College, earning a B.S. in home economics in 1960.

Seeing the opportunity to gain greater knowledge, she entered Tennessee State University where she received her M.S. in home economics in 1974.

She was employed by Utica Junior College for 38 years, the majority of the time as an educator, teaching menu planning and food production.

She was a strong leader, sponsoring and serving as president for several organizations including the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, Hinds Agricultural High School PTA, the Utica Chapter of Alcorn State University Alumni, Friends of Utica, and Habitat for Humanity.

Affectionately known as the “Cake Lady” she created hundreds of confections for her community.

Juanita leaves to cherish her memory one son, Janeiro (Melissa) Smith of Vicksburg; two grandchildren, Joseph Corbyn “Trey” Smith and Jaxon Curtis Smith of Vicksburg; two godchildren, Bobby (Jasmine) Washington Jr. of Jackson and Kamora Washington of Utica; one sister, Ethel Louise Powe of State Line; one brother, Harper (Annette) Wilson of Hattiesburg; one sister-in-law, Lillie Smith of Atlanta, Ga.; one brother-in-law, Will Collins of Memphis, Tenn.; six nieces who were able to provide incredible assistance during her illness, Alfreda (Alvin) Gilmore of Lee’s Summit, Mo., April Gilmore of Lee’s Summit, Mo., Lisa Stevenson of Ridgeland, Macaela Stevenson of Alcorn State, Vanessa Powe of State Line and Darnita Harrington of Gulfport; her faithful companion and caregiver for the past four years, Formeaka Heath of Vicksburg; and a plethora of nieces, nephews, cousins, former students and friends.

Family hour will be Friday, June 28, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Westhaven Memorial Funeral Home, 306 Depot Street, Utica.

Services will be at Traveler’s Rest M.B. Church, 718 Bowmar Ave., Vicksburg, with viewing at 10 a.m. and service at 11 a.m.