Juanita Presley, born December 10, 1921, was the second "cotton-headed" girl among seven children of Nellie Blevins Presley and Theodore Severe Presley. When the "dust bowl" ruined farming in her native Oklahoma, the family joined the legion of "Okies" who trekked west for a fresh start.
A newly minted California-girl, Juanita Presley grew up with a lifelong sunny disposition and an ability to make friends wherever she went. She joked about her "cousin" Elvis. Becoming a military wife to Hiram Caroom in 1945, she traveled and lived around the U.S. and in Japan, giving birth to and raising three children (Doug, JoAnn and Philip).
Juanita was comfortable with children at play. Once, on a visit, her sister Lillian pointed out little Doug jumping on the sofa. When Lillian urged her to correct the child, Juanita said placidly, "Doug, don't jump so high!" At the same time, she could lovingly set very clear standards for her children as to what was acceptable behavior and what was not.
Professionally, Juanita earned a masters in education and served as a well-loved first-grade teacher in four states (Colorado, Ohio, Maryland and Florida) before retiring. Many of her grown students stayed in touch with "Mrs. Caroom." In retirement, Juanita did volunteer work at the local Neptune Beach, Florida hospital. With Hiram, she acted as a loving grandparent and "neighborhood parent" helping visiting children learn to play pool, find conch shells on the beach, and tend orange trees.
Despite her easy-going temperament, Juanita had a competitive streak, winning Air Base tournaments among women bowlers and golfers. Most especially, she enjoyed playing bridge, heroically bidding to heights that made more faint-hearted partners tremble. Her favorite partner was her husband Hiram, who also excelled in every form of card-play. Juanita helped found and coordinated membership for the Jacksonville (Florida) School of Bridge.
In another demonstration of her playfulness, Juanita instigated and led games over many years of annual Carroum reunions, including a bubble-gum blowing contest, a water-balloon toss and an egg toss that reliably would degenerate into a free-for-all.
Juanita was a woman of faith, getting her family to church on a regular basis and living out a life of love and Christian service. She was looking forward to rejoining Hiram in a better place.
In her later years, Juanita faithfully continued bridge and other card play in senior-living, assisted-living and hospice in Knoxville, Tennessee. She treasured the visits of her only daughter JoAnn, sons Doug and Philip, as well as grandchildren and other family.
She passed away peacefully in her sleep on October 4, 2021, at 99 and 3/4 years of age. She is survived by son Doug (Patricia) Caroom of Austin, Texas; daughter JoAnn Porter (Ray) of Knoxville, Tennessee; son Philip (Ilene) of Annapolis, Maryland; thirteen grandchildren and twenty-two great-grandchildren; and many other relatives and friends.
Juanita and Hiram were supporters of the missionary work Patricia is doing, with the Toposa of South Sudan. Gifts can be made in Juanitas honor to the Toposa Fund or to the charity of your choice
Tax deductible gifts to the Toposa Fund: Mail checks made out to e3 Partners c/o Patricia Caroom, 1402 Ridgecrest, Austin, Tx 78746. Names and addresses of donors will not be added to mailing list.
Memorial service will be November 8 at 10 a.m. Palms Presbyterian Church, 3410 Third Street South, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250. For those who cannot attend, the services will be posted on the church's website
Published by The Beaches Leader from Oct. 13 to Oct. 14, 2021.