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Juanita Rosie Smith Alexander

Memorial for Juanita Rosie Smith Alexander

Born in Jennings, Louisiana on Jun. 18, 1928
Departed on Nov. 8, 2014 and resided in Austin, TX.
Service: Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014
11:00 am
Cemetery: Alexander Family Cemetery
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

Love like a red, red rose: Celebrating the life teaching of Juanita Rosie Smith Alexander
(June 18, 1928 - Nov. 8, 2014)

Wife, mother, educator, advocate, caregiver, inspiration, and keeper of history and culture, Juanita Rosie Smith Alexander lived life as she loved it—with a wide open heart in full bloom. Whether helping mold youth into today's leaders as Director of both the Wilshire and University Child Inc. Centers, or corralling her own ambitious brood of eight, Juanita Alexander insisted on mutual respect and admiration for all of God's creation.

Born June 18, 1928, Juanita Smith was the fifth child of commercial plumbing contractor and Ebenezer Baptist Church Deacon Oliver Junius Smith and Irene Mayfield Smith of Jennings, LA. Her birth family left Louisiana for Texas so that their daughters could attend college together. Juanita was mentored by her Aunt Josephine Netty, an African-American education pioneer who attended Columbia University in the segregated 1940s and used her Masters degree to educate most of Jennings—black and white. To honor Aunt Jo, Juanita became a natural teacher in every role she sought and accepted throughout her life. To prepare, she attended then-Tillotson College in Austin along with her older sisters, Sylvia, Virgie, and Maude. While there, she met her life partner and husband of 66 years, Marcellus Winston Alexander, Sr. Heir to one of Austin/Travis County's oldest African-American family farms, Juanita and Marcellus together cultivated and kept the homestead acreage at Pilot Knob that has been owned and operated by the Alexander family since 1864.

Most important for her professional life, Marcellus supported the dreams of his "Sweetness," Juanita. She was the love of his life, and he demonstrated daily what it means to be a strong, attentive and loving husband and father. As they raised their tightly knit family, Juanita first finished her Bachelor's degree at St. Edwards University and then graduated with her Masters degree in 1984—the same year her youngest daughter Winell finished high school. Before multitasking became the norm, "Oma," as she was lovingly known to her grandchildren, took one class at a time while working full-time first as a Head Start Teacher, then as an educational administrator in early childhood development. Throughout her career, she inspired student learners, mentored young teachers in all stages of their development, and supported educational research at the University of Texas College of Education and at Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL). She nurtured students' high achievement standards for years at Del Valle ISD, while also advocating for her fellow teachers within the teachers union. That advocacy naturally spilled into other expressions of civic duty and community activism as Juanita defined parental involvement at Del Valle, became a Girl Scout leader, and worked on local political campaigns and community issues.

Gifts from God, my children are my heart and my soul
A lifelong activist in the most fundamental sense of the term, Juanita Alexander was a compassionate, elegant, prayerful, resourceful, highly intelligent, encouraging woman of God. She stood for democracy of choice and equal access to education, arts and culture, and for life-enriching care for sick and elderly family members. While her children studied for advanced degrees and success, she grounded each of them in the need for balance by shuttling them to an array of extra-curricular activities. She insisted upon the same for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Juanita thanked God daily for their health and prosperity, the places they made for themselves in the world as entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. Her children basked in their mother's unconditional and ever-present love, and reciprocated by living "God-through-Mama's-edict" of love and caring: God is love, and love is all there is.

Juanita Alexander predeceased her husband and soulmate Marcellus W. Alexander, Sr. of Austin by a mere five days. They are survived by their loving children: Marcellus W. Alexander, Jr. (Linda) of Bethesda; Gerald Alexander (Sherrill) of Austin; Carmen Alexander Shelby of Chicago; Mark Alexander (Cheryl) of Austin; Rosalind Alexander-Kasparik of San Diego; Lamont Alexander (Alta) of Austin; and Winell Alexander-Herron (William) of Houston. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander were both preceded in death by their beloved eldest daughter, Jennifer Williams (Carl). Connie Smith Latimer of Detroit is the sole remaining sibling of Juanita Alexander's birth family. Of Marcellus Sr.'s siblings, three remain to remember he and Juanita: Anita Swain of Austin, Bertha McKinley of Los Angeles, and Robert Alexander, Sr. (Irene) of Dallas. The Alexanders are also survived by a host of adoring grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews and caregivers.

King-Tears Mortuary is in the midst of extensive renovations and our building is not in use. Flowers for Mrs. Alexander may delivered to Austin Peel and Son Funeral Home, 607 E. Anderson Lane, Austin, Texas on Monday, November 17, 2014

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