HALEYVILLE - Emotions ran high for the family of the late Juanita White, at the Haleyville City Board of Education’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, when a “Serve With Pride” award was given in recognition of White to members of her family in attendance. White was the custodian at Haleyville Elementary School from 1977 until she passed away in 1996.
Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland remembers White when she was in school.
“I remember she would smile and was always involved, asking us how our days were…I have fond memories of her,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland explained White did her job, including more than what was listed in the job description. She invested in the kids and was rewarding to them due to her philosophy of service.
“Her love and tenderness to care for Haleyville City Schools was not a job, but a ministry. Mrs. White was an example of what we should do and what we should be for the Lord,” a statement from the family read.
When the award was given, Sutherland also revealed a photograph of White, the frame bemade by the Haleyville Center of Technology agriscience students, to be displayed in HES.
What made the event even more special was the fact White was recognized on what would have been her 80th birthday.
As White’s family came forward to accept the awards, several members of the family broke down, showing their emotion over what the recognition meant to them.
White’s son Will explained his friends in school would tell him his mother was one of the greatest people.
“Everybody loved her, and we were raised to love everybody,” Will said. “She made rainy days sunny and cold days warm. She loved the Lord. She touched everybody she met, not just her own kids. We never did without, and there were eight of us kids to feed. I’m proud of that.”
These qualities are what Will wants to pass on to his daughter, nieces and nephews.
Will also mentioned the recognition award was not planned to be given on her birthday.
“That’s the Good Lord working,” he remarked.
White’s daughter, Lynn, has heartfelt memories of her mother.
“She always kept a notepad on her nightstand with a long list of people she prayed for individually every night before she went to sleep,” Lynn said.
“She was what I always called ‘my pioneer mama’ because she would get up every morning around 4:30 or 5 and make sure that the wood heater was still going to keep us warm, then start up her ‘old timey’ percolator coffee pot that smelled so good. She would come into our rooms and say, ‘Don’t get up until the house is good and warm.’”
Lynn also referred to her mom as one who could chop logs into firewood, better than any man could.
“She never stopped working even when she was at home. She always put her kids first, and so did daddy. She would always tell us, ‘Always look presentable and look your best no matter what.’ Then she would say, ‘Don’t come to my job looking any kind of way making me look bad!’”
“If she saw a child come through the doors at school with dirty clothes on or appearing any way that made her feel the child was in need, she would go to Wal-Mart and buy a few outfits for the child. My parents were always giving and helping everybody they could.”
White touched the lives of many students through the years at the school. Many fondly recall her smile and grace and will continue to do so for years to come.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.