|Birth: ||Oct. 19, 1922|
|Death: ||Mar. 8, 2012|
Juanita Sheffield Murray, age 89, passed away Thursday, March 8, 2012 in Dallas, TX. Taught by her parents, James Homer Sheffield and Jessie Inez Sapp, to be a person of integrity, Juanita was a generous and kind person. She leaves behind a loving son, Jim Oliphant and his two children, Christine and John. She is preceded in death by two half-sisters, Velma Easley Brown and Margaret Easley Parker; a half-brother, Henry Hinton Sheffield; a sister, Eloise Sheffield Brown and husband Robert Eugene Murray. Interment with her late husband, Robert S. Porter, is at Shannon Rose Hill Cemetery in Fort Worth.
Published in Dallas Morning News on March 11, 2012
Excerpt from Juanita's Eulogy:
We have in our family, little expressions that make us chuckle because they are spoken by a beloved family member so often that the expression is forever associated with that person. For Juanita it was "I'm gonna let you..." So... I'm gonna let you come along with me to visit a life well lived by a person who led by example... a person of uncompromising integrity who always gave her very best, even when it was hard.
On October 19, 1922 Juanita was born to Jessie Inez Sapp and James Homer Sheffield in Walley, Greene County, Mississippi. Juanita had two half-sisters by her mother's previous marriage to James Easley. Velma was 18 and Margaret was 16 when Juanita came along. Homer, her dad, lost his first wife, Dosia Hinton, to tuberculosis, leaving him with a son, Henry, who was 14 years older than Juanita. Juanita's sister Eloise was only four years older and was her friend for life. As the forests were "logged out" in Mississippi, lumbering operations moved south taking Homer, Jessie, Henry, Eloise and two year old Juanita to Slater, Florida (now part of Fort Myers on Florida's west coast). Half-sisters, Velma and Margaret stayed behind in Mississippi starting families of their own. Life at the McWilliams lumber camp in Slater was not easy, but there were other children to play with and mischief to make, school and loving parents. The Depression took its toll on the Sheffield family. In 1930 Homer suffered a heart attack, dying just after Juanita's eighth birthday. Her mother, Jessie, stayed in Fort Myers for awhile and eventually took Eloise and Juanita to Fordyce, Arkansas to be closer to family. From there they moved to Little Rock where Juanita found the school work much more difficult. With a little bit of tenth grade behind her, Juanita quit school and went to work. She had vivid memories of working at the Walgreen's Drug Store soda fountain in downtown Little Rock. "It was almost a block long," she would say. "We sure had the business." It was there that Robert Clair Oliphant entered her life. His Kansas National Guard unit was at Camp Joseph T. Robinson for what was to have been one year of training as part of the 35th Infantry Division. Pearl Harbor changed everything. Juanita stayed in Little Rock, while "Ollie" went to California where he would become part of the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Sending for her in late spring or early summer Juanita traveled cross country to become a wife. But war is hard and the marriage "just wasn't working out." She was 19, pregnant and half a continent away from home. But home she went, back to Little Rock where Jimmy was born two months premature in March of 1943. The war brought work and north Texas was building airplanes. Juanita, Jimmy and Jessie moved to Grand Prairie where she became a riveter at North American Aviation famous for its P-51 Mustang and B-25 Mitchell Bomber. "I shot those rivets so fast they could hardly keep up with me." It was there she met Sam Porter. They married February 11, 1945 and built a life together for almost 34 years. "We never had an argument," she told me. "Sam loved Jim." When the war ended, Juanita went to work at Armour & Company's cafeteria (in Fort Worth's stockyards). Sam also worked at Armour and Jessie helped with Jim. When in 1962, Armour closed its doors, Juanita went to work for Colonial Cafeterias working her way up the ranks. We would joke about her issuing orders, and that was confirmed by some of her former co-workers. "When she told you to do something, you jumped." Of course supervising banquets for three thousand people would probably bring out the über-boss in anyone. But Juanita had a talent for organization, for picking the right person for the job and for getting everyone to do their best. Her mother Jessie, who is buried nearby, passed away in August 1969. By 1971, Juanita had two grandchildren whom she and Sam adored. In 1977 Juanita was promoted to assistant vice-president in charge of food production and quality control for Colonial-Jetton's. But 1978 brought heartache again. Sam, the love of her life with whom she will be interred today, suffered a heart attack and died on December 11th. Surrounded by her loving family and wonderful friends, Juanita made a life without Sam. She traveled... New Orleans, Las Vegas, Hawaii. She and her buddies were always going and blowing, but at home she was alone. So naturally, when she was courted by a tall, dark, Tennessean named, Bob Murray, she decided to remarry in April 1984. Her duties at Colonial-Jetton's kept Juanita on a frantic schedule until she decided to retire in October 1987. She had already lost her sweet sister, Eloise, to colon cancer in August 1985. Juanita had always done so much for Eloise and her family. Now it was Juanita's turn to enjoy herself. At first Juanita and Bob traveled, but as time wore on life became hard again. Juanita was mugged in 1993 and gradually lost the use of her left arm. She still did all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, everything. Juanita continued to make family dinners. We relished her meals because she was such a good cook. Our mouths would start watering anticipating what was to come. She knew exactly how heavy a roast she could maneuver in and out of the oven with only one good arm. This was not easy for her; it was a labor of love. Bob was cantankerous to say the least. I overheard him once talking on the phone to an old friend. He explained he had remarried and the friend asked his new wife's name. After giving her name, the friend asked how it was spelled. "Well just like it sounds," said Bob, "W-A-R-N-I-T-A". Bob apparently had failed to notice the strong spirit that was part of Juanita. Difficult as it was, Juanita cared for him until he drew his last breath on December 28, 2002. It was an easy decision to leave her Fort Worth home of over 43 years to move to Dallas, after all, family was there. After a BIG garage sale that even disposed of her car, Juanita moved into the Treemont Retirement Community. She quickly made friends and participated in all of the games and activities she could squeeze into a day. Gradually though, she slowed down. Her eyesight and energy were failing her. Her back and legs were uncooperative. In spite of the aches and pains, she was always cheerful. The summer of 2010 marked the beginning of her life at Windsor Senior Living and what a wonderful life it was. The food was good, the people were kind and attentive. She was surrounded by friends. It was home. On March 8 Juanita's heavenly home was ready for her and God couldn't wait any longer. Today we say our goodbyes and lay her to rest with Sam. How lucky we are to have known and loved her. We will forever have funny stories of our "weather girl". She was always looking out for us by watching the news and warning of threatening weather. One evening upon our return home there was a message on our answering machine (because of course she was in bed by 5:00) with this message, "I don't know what it is, but something in the atmosphere has made all the blackberries go bad... so don't eat any blackberries." She did not know it was a satellite issue for the cell phone by the same name. Juanita was just as amazed by on-line dating services when she found that several family members had met their spouses through the internet. "Well I may just have to get myself one of those computers." We aren't sending her off with an iPad, but there are a few things she couldn't do without. A cross because she led her life by Christ's example, her East Side BINGO bag, her Texas Lottery Scratch Off coin, her 1968 AMOR doubloon "The night was made for love", chocolate, strawberry Creme Savers, a note to herself to "walk 500 feet" because her apartment was full of these little notes, her hair net (Jim logged many miles in search of a certain brand of hair net and then she only wanted him to buy a few because the "elastic goes bad"), and her rain bonnet just for good measure, even though we are sure there are no rainy days in heaven. Please join me in reciting the Lord's Prayer. On behalf of everyone in our family, thank you so very much for being with us today to honor Juanita. We will depart accompanied by Juanita's favorite song "Tennessee Waltz".
James Homer Sheffield (1878 - 1930)
Jessie Inez Sapp Sheffield (1886 - 1969)
Robert Clair Oliphant (1919 - 1989)
Robert Samuel Porter (1922 - 1978)
Robert Eugene Murray (1919 - 2002)
Velma L. Easley Brown (1904 - 1936)**
Margaret E Easley Parker (1906 - 1939)**
Henry Hinton Sheffield (1908 - 1982)**
Eloise Sheffield Brown Murphree (1918 - 1985)*
Juanita Sheffield Murray (1922 - 2012)
Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park
Plot: Section: Ridgevale, Lot: 411, Spaces: E 1/2
Maintained by: Cindy Oliphant
Originally Created by: Tim Hawkins
Record added: Mar 11, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 86569822