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Eugenia Tatum Avant McJunkin

Eugenia Avant McJunkin Eugenia Tatum Avant McJunkin, 83, of Lake Placid, Fla., went to be with the Lord, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. Eugenia was a native of Tallahassee who always loved the city and considered it "home." It was her wish to be laid to rest here. She was preceded in death by her parents, David A. Avant and Fenton Davis Avant, and her beloved brothers, David A. Avant Jr. and George D. Avant. It is nearly impossible to describe this intelligent, witty, spiritual, funny, sometimes mischievous, always compassionate, dynamic, purposeful and loving lady in the few words here. We can now only talk about her as a friend, counselor, mentor, teacher, wife and mother. Born in Tallahassee on May 14, 1925, Eugenia spent her childhood years in Mt. Pleasant and attended elementary school there, after which the family moved back to Tallahassee. Having an outgoing personality and a ready smile, Eugenia quickly made friends at Leon High, where she joined the Leon Marching Band (oboe), and later the high school honor society, the Hyperion Society, as well as a number of other school and church organizations. Eugenia attended Florida State College for Women, where her energy and enthusiasm led her to participate in even more class and college organizations, from Treasurer for the freshman class and Chi Omega to joining the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1946, before she graduated college, she and four of her girlfriends wanted to go to California. They convinced their respective parents by signing up for classes at the University of Southern California. It was a grand adventure for the girls going cross-country, really soaking in the sights since the national speed limit was 35 mph. While in California, Eugenia answered an ad for a part as an "extra" in a movie, and actually appeared on the silver screen in a small part. Returning to Tallahassee, Eugenia finished her education in the spring of 1947 and was in the last graduating class of FSCW. She married J. Morgan McJunkin, March 8, 1947, at Trinity Methodist Church on Park Ave., her mother's church and just across the street from the Avant family home. Moving to Ft. Lauderdale with her husband Morgan, Eugenia was active in her new church, Covenant Presbyterian, teaching Sunday school there and later at Wilton Manors Baptist Church. In those days, well to do women selected their clothing not from a catalog but by viewing them on fashion models, Eugenia supplemented the family income with fashion modeling at the high-end hotels along the beach for several years. Tasked with raising four boys, she was up to the many challenges. Throughout her years in Ft. Lauderdale, she not only remained active in the church and held statewide offices in the UDC and DAR, Eugenia, but also joined the Garden Club and Garden Circle, holding various offices in both. Her love of God, country, community and family was exemplified by her life. She always had time for others. She later joined First Families of Virginia, Colonial Dames 17th Century, Founders & Patriots and the Order of Charlemagne, to mention a few. In 1980 with her youngest son, Marshall, off to college, Eugenia and her husband, Morgan, moved to Lake Placid, where she lived the rest of her life. Eugenia remained active in church, the DAR, founded the Lake Placid chapter of the UDC in 1985 and presided over the state UDC in the 1990-91 term. In the last few years of her life, when she needed more help, her sons, Marshall and Neville, had the honor of caring for her. As her illness progressed, the last complete sentence she could say was, "I love you." Which she was able to say very nearly to the end; Eugenia was always a loving person. These few words are in no way an adequate description of the richness of Eugenia's life, the joy she brought to others, or her selflessness and compassion. She is survived by her husband of more than 60 years, J. Morgan McJunkin; her four sons, David, Neville, George and Marshall; her dear friend and sister-in-law, Gayle Avant; grandchildren, Angela, Rachael, Maximillian and Alexander; her nieces and nephews, Garnett, Inger, David III, George Jr.; and many more family members and countless friends. Eugenia had a sparkling personality, was very bright, witty and genuinely cute throughout her life and will be sorely missed. Eugenia's life is an example of a life well lived. We will celebrate her victorious life of faith, love and service Saturday, January 31, at 11 a.m. EST at Trinity United Methodist Church on Park Ave. Services will be officiated by the Rev. Tony Fotsch and Eugenia's pastor from Lake Placid, the Rev. Ray Cameron.
Published in Tallahassee Democrat from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, 2009
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