Juanita “Nita” Posey Jones died November 30 at age 92. An accomplished artist and ballroom dancer, she spent the last decade of her life in Pensacola.
She was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, on January 19, 1926, to parents Dodds Ray Posey and Martha Cain Posey, both from southwest Mississippi. Growing up in Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, she finished high school in Shreveport, Louisiana, before her family settled in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
She met her future husband, Harold Jones of Kreole, Mississippi, during her freshman year at University of Mississippi. They settled in Pascagoula where their only child, daughter Diane, was born. Following her employment with the U.S. Postal Service, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi Employment Commission, and Gulf Coast Marine Supply, she and husband Harold formed Southern Guard Services, Inc., the first security firm in Southeast Mississippi.
Though she worked in the business, her passion for art thrived as she returned to college to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of South Alabama. She also studied at Penland School of Crafts, in North Carolina and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and Southwest Craft Center, both in Tennessee. Her body of work includes ceramics, watercolors, lithographs, silk screens and sculpture. Her most accomplished work is that as a handmade papermaker. She had juried exhibitions in New York, Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, California, Missouri, Indiana, Louisiana, and Mississippi. A former member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, she served as a touring artist for the Mississippi Arts Commission and as an instructor at Allison Wells School of Art. After moving to Pensacola, she won an Award of Honor at Gulf Breeze Celebrates the Arts, juried a show at Artel Gallery, and taught workshops for local art groups. At age 87, her handmade paper sculptures won Best of Show, the grand prize, in the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival in 2013.
The last fifteen years of her life she pursued her second passion: ballroom dancing. She studied under Sergio of Dance Design in Fort Worth, Texas, and Victor Luna at Fred Astaire Studies in Pensacola. With Fred Astaire studios, she participated in several Life’s A Dance benefits for Covenant Care, and with her dancing partners she competed on the national level in Las Vegas as well as in several competitions in Florida, never once losing.
Nita’s other interests included designing and sewing art quilts, genealogical research, British mysteries, crossword puzzles, good movies and musical theatre. She was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority, the Eastern Star, the West Florida Genealogical Society, and a lifetime member of American Legion Auxiliary Post 160.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Harold and her sister, Marcheta “Keet” Peetz. Nita is survived by her daughter, Diane Skelton (Danny) of Gulf Breeze; grandsons, Shannon Skelton, Manhattan, Kansas, Colin Skelton (Rona), Gulf Breeze, Nicholas Skelton, Gulf Breeze and great-grandchildren, Kieran Skelton and Keaton Skelton, Manhattan, Kansas and Max and Mia Skelton, Gulf Breeze. Of her 18 surviving nieces and nephews, she remained closest to her sister’s children, Becky Peetz Hart (Bob) of Pascagoula and Doug Peetz (Denise) of Panama City and to Becky Manning Dobbs, daughter of surviving sister-in-law, Frances Jones Manning, along with cousins, Susan Tatum Pierce (Joe) of Shreveport and George (Trish) Seymour of Houston. She is also survived by her “family” of Fred Astaire dancing partners and friends.
Her ashes will be interred next to those of her husband at the Biloxi National Cemetery.