Juanita Marie McKnight

Juanita McKnight

To my children, Marian, George “Bay”, Cheryle and Phillip, my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, dear friends, and all of Blue Jay and Park Street… Please rest assured that all is well with my soul. I lived and loved fully in my 90 earthly years. Family and serving others were my heart’s delight.  I will miss you all, but nothing can compare to the love I feel as I live in the bosom of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.—Love, Juanita

Juanita Marie Brown McKnight, born in Tucker, Texas to the late Lela and Will Brown on July 7, 1924, entered eternal rest on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.  In 1943, she married her husband of 67 years, George McKnight, and to this union, five children were born.  She was a member of Greater Bell Zion Baptist Church until her death.  She was employed by John Sealy Hospital (now UTMB) for 55 years, retiring at the age of 82.  She is predeceased by husband, George; son, Robert Wayne; granddaughter, Gretchen and special cousin, Laura.  On Wednesday, January 13 (five days after her passing), her sister, Oddie, went home to be with the Lord. 

Viewing will be Friday, January 16, 10 a.m., followed by Funeral Services at 11 a.m. at Greater Bell Zion Baptist Church, Rev. Jerry B. Lee, officiant.


Juanita Marie Brown McKnight, daughter of the late Lela and Will Brown, and granddaughter of the late Jim and Mattie Underwood, was born July 7, 1924 in Tucker, Texas.  She entered eternal rest on Wednesday, January 7, 2o15—exactly six months from the date of her 90th birthday.

Reared in Tucker, Texas, Juanita was one of three siblings, including:  Perry, Oddie, and Silverleen.  She was educated in the Green Bay Public School System, and was particularly proud of her oratory skills.  At 89 years old, she was still able to recite her favorite piece, The Creation, from memory.  The granddaughter of a country Holiness preacher, Juanita accepted Christ as her personal savior in her youth and remained in relationship with Christ throughout her 90 years.  In 1943, Juanita married her husband of 67 years, George McKnight, and to this union, five children were born.  In 1946, they relocated to Galveston and in 1951, moved to LaMarque.  She joined Greater Bell Zion Baptist Church in the early 1950s under the leadership of the late Rev. Wiley L. Dunn.  She was employed for 55 years by John Sealy Hospital (now UTMB) where she worked in the dietary department as a purchasing agent, retiring at the age of 82 in 2006. 

Her “summer work program”...

All of Juanita’s children and a few of her grandchildren participated in the “Juanita McKnight summer work program” (i.e., John Sealy Food Services Department). This was an understood rite of passage for the McKnight clan, and for that matter, many members of the community.  If you expressed the need for a job, she saw to it that you became a John Sealy employee, but this did not come without her guidance and expectation of professionalism and timeliness.  Juanita approached her 55 years of employment with the same professionalism, even during the end of her career when her work hours and working conditions were changed to “encourage” her to retire.  Because of her strong work ethic, she never missed a beat.  She adjusted to the unreasonable hours she was assigned, and she mastered the new computer system she was required to learn.

Undying commitment to family...

Anyone who knew Juanita is keenly aware of how she delighted  in hosting family gatherings.  Whether it was a birthday celebration, a holiday, or a celebration of an accomplishment, Juanita cherished the convergence of her family on 7210 Blue Jay.  And as a pit master of some of the best barbecue in Texas City, Juanita and George’s barbecue was the highlight of family gatherings. Although not socially acceptable today, it was not uncommon to pass by the McKnight home on a Sunday afternoon and see a smoking barbecue pit in the front yard, accompanied by lawn chairs, blankets, and sometimes a few sleeping guests.  We understand that this is not acceptable by today’s neighborhood association guidelines, but it made 7210 Blue Jay the spot for many years.


Juanita was a member of the Iona chapter 2057 Order of Eastern Star, Pride of LaMarque Court of Calanthe-Number 457, Queen Esther, Court Number 7 and Jackson Court Number 128.

A legacy of helping others...

You didn’t have to be a member of Juanita’s family to experience her love and generosity.  If you were hungry or needed a place to stay, she would take care of you.  If you were hurting or needed advice, her heart was always open.  Juanita spent her 90 years living and loving fully, and helping others.

Leaving a legacy...

In the same way Juanita cared for her mother until the end of her life, Juanita’s years of love and taking care of others turned full circle.  She spent the last year of her life being cared for by her daughters, Marian (Coger) and Cheryl (James-deceased), with love and assistance provided by her sons Phillip (Tami) and George “Bay” (Susie).  Shortly after midnight on Tuesday morning (five days after Juanita’s passing), her sister, Oddie, went home to be with the Lord.  She is predeceased by her husband, George; son, Robert Wayne; granddaughter, Gretchen; and special cousin, Laura.  Also left to cherish her memory are: her sister, Silverleen; grandchildren: Monica, Vondea, Maya (Raymond), LaTesha, LaChandra, Whitney, Meagan, Kareem, Tristan, Tahirih,  Haylee and Treasure; special nephew, Patrick;  special cousins, the Bass, Brown, Hill, Dardens and  Smith Families as well as a host of additional great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends.