Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Juanita McCown Hight

Juanita McCown Hight, 100, one of Winston County’s most influential and supportive citizens, died on Wednesday, April 16, at Oak Tree Plantation in Amory after a brief illness.

A memorial service celebrating her life is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 18, at the First Baptist Church of Louisville. Visitation is prior to the service at 1:00 p.m. at the church. Porter Funeral Home in Louisville is in charge of arrangements.

The eldest daughter of the late James Monroe McCown and Ada Green McCown of Plattsburg, Mrs. Hight was born on August 26, 1913. She grew up in Philadelphia and Noxapater. She graduated from the Winston County Agricultural High School in 1930 and entered Mississippi University for Women (MSCW at the time) that fall, majoring in home economics.

Initially planning to go to the W for only one year, she earned a bachelor of science degree there in 1934 and became a lifelong advocate for the institution.

“Mississippi and the ‘Long Blue Line’ of Mississippi University for Women, “ said Clyda Stokes Rent, the W’s president from 1989 – 2001, “have lost one of its finest daughters. A quintessential and model W alum, Juanita Hight was as smart as a whip. She was a devoted churchwoman, a tireless leader and supporter of her beloved W, and a passionate and highly successful leader in any task or with any organization that she deemed worthwhile.”
After graduation, Mrs. Hight taught home economics in Taylorsville and Louisville, and then in 1938, she was hired as a home economist for the Farm Security Administration and opened the FSA office in Wiggins. She worked there for 15 months before returning to Louisville in 1940 to marry William B. “Billy” Hight whom she had met while teaching there.
Mr. Hight’s family owned the Winston County Journal, and Billy became its editor when his father died in 1943. Juanita began working on the paper that same year – “doing everything from selling ads and writing local news and editorial to keeping the books,” she once recalled. She also was a correspondent for the Jackson Daily News and the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

By the time she and Billy sold the Winston County Journalin 1958, Juanita had had a major journalistic career. She’d served as president of Mississippi Press Women, on the board of the National Federation of Press Women, co-chaired the national organization’s first meeting in Mississippi and won many awards for her writing.

Always involved in civic work and the life of Louisville, Mrs. Hight helped found the Louisville Junior Auxiliary and served as its first president. She also was a past president of the Louisville Fortnightly Club and was a longtime member of the Jackson Stitchery Guild. A lifelong Baptist, she served as the building committee chair for First Baptist Church’s educational annex and then became church librarian for the library that was a part of the project. Her portrait now hangs there to recognize her longtime service.

Her longtime pastor, Dr. Jimmy Porter, said of Juanita, “She was a very gracious, Christian lady, who loved her church and family, and was very dedicated to promoting the Lord’s work.”

Mrs. Hight received many awards for her volunteer work. Among them were: the Pilot Club-Winston County Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year Award; the Winston County Lifetime Achievement Award “for distinguished public service” and the W’s Alumni Achievement Award.

Mrs. Hight was predeceased by her husband, Billy Hight; her brother, Kimbol McCown; and her sisters, Claudine Stevens and Bobbie Jean Wall. Survivors include numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials in her name go to the library at First Baptist Church of Louisville or Mississippi University for Women.