Margaret Juanita Freeland, 88, of Paris died Thursday, June 4, 2020, at her residence.
A celebration of life will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday on the side lawn of the Paris-Henry County Heritage Center, 614 N. Poplar Street., Paris, with her grandsons Daniel and Matthew Williams officiating.
A 58-year member of East Wood Church of Christ in Paris, she served as a Sunday school teacher for 30-plus years. She was instrumental in beginning a jail ministry at East Wood, teaching and studying with young women, that is still going on today.
Juanita graduated from Puryear School, where she was valedictorian of her class. During the summer when she was 15, she lived in Nashville and attended beauty school, later working at Nestle Beauty School in Paris.
She was married Nov. 5, 1950, to her husband of 62 years, William R. (Bill) Freeland, who preceded her in death on Jan. 8, 2013.
While her husband was stationed in Germany in the U.S. Army, she lived in Nashville and worked for Southwestern Bell as a switchboard operator. In 1962, the Freelands moved back to Paris, where she continued to work as a telephone switchboard operator until Paris transitioned to dial tones.
From there, she became an employee of the Mitchum Co. before helping start the Joyland Kindergarten program, now Joyland Christian Preschool and becoming its first teacher. Later, Juanita went to work for J.C. Penney in Paris, where she remained until she began caring for her mother.
After her mother’s death in 1983, she became a part of the Paris Special School District as the lunchroom manager for Atkins-Porter School until its closing, then transferred to Inman School in the same position. After many years as lunchroom manager, Juanita transitioned to her role as a teacher’s assistant, retiring when her third grandchild was born.
She adored her grandchildren, who called her “Manini. She enjoyed her grandchildren very much and enjoyed cooking, and walking in the woods and along the railroad tracks with them. She was especially known for her baking and cake decorating.
Juanita had the heart of a servant and was loved by so many people. She spent a lifetime reaching out and welcoming others and was a true blessing to everyone she met.
Juanita was born Dec. 11, 1931, in Linden, TN, to the late William Arco Cotton and Edna Almeda Parnell Cotton.
She is survived by her daughter, Evonne (Michael) Williams of Paris; a daughter-in-law, Perveen Rustomfrom of Memphis; a sister-in-law, Joan Cotton of Paris; four grandchildren, Daniel (Jordan) Williams, Katie Williams and Matthew (Sarah) Williams, all of Paris, and Feroza Freeland of Nashville; one great-grandson, Sterling Bryant Williams of Paris; special nephew, Wayne (Nina) Cotton of Paris, and many other nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents and husband, she also was preceded in death by a son, Dennis Freeland; and two brothers, Alton (Elaine) Cotton, and Bill Cotton.
The body is to be cremated. Arrangements are being handled by Ridgeway Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the jail ministry program, c/o East Wood Church of Christ, 800 E. Wood St., Paris.