Juanita (Nita) Lorraine Mazique (Saunders)
April 26, 1952 - September 28, 2020
Nita was born and raised in Detroit. She grew up on Normandy Street in the Pilgrim Village neighborhood with her sisters, Alexis and Mignon. Nita attended St. Gregory School and Church during her youth, and graduated from St. Mary's Academy in Monroe. She matriculated from St. Mary's to Northwestern University.
At Northwestern, Nita earned a Bachelor of Mathematics in three years. As part of the Black student organization, she played an integral role in gaining lasting, positive changes for Black students, faculty, and staff. Nita also earned two masters' degrees from the University of Detroit in Business Administration and Teaching Mathematics.
The classrooms, students, and faculty of Longfellow Middle School, Post Middle School, and Mumford High School were lucky to experience her creativity, tenacity, and talent as a teacher of mathematics. She coached and judged Academic Games for several decades. Nita's classroom and mathematics expertise led to her participating in the Phillips Academy Andover summer program where she honed her craft and taught other teachers. During her career as an educator, many of Nita's students and colleagues became her extended family. Her dedication to the ideal that every Black child has the capacity for excellence and deserves a top-notch education was unwavering.
Nita was a loving mother to her three children, and grandmother to eight; she was previously married to Nelson Saunders and Wayne Watson. Some of her favorite pastimes were gardening, cooking, strolling the rows of the Eastern Market early Saturday mornings, playing cards, entertaining friends and family, reading, and solving puzzles of all sorts. She was witty, whip-smart, generous, straightforward, and MacGyver-style inventive. If you were fortunate, she gazed upon you with twinkling, brilliant eyes and graced you with a smile that rivaled the sun with its radiance.
If you would like to honor Juanita, in lieu of flowers, cards and monetary gifts, please donate in her name to Northwestern University to provide financial assistance to Black female students pursuing mathematics degrees. https://secure.ard.northwestern.edu/s/1479/282-giving/form-bc.aspx?sid=1479&gid=282&pgid=25414&cid=42534&appealcode=KAYR4&dids=395&_ga=2.21929651.985434996.1601486398-1685450028.1596116840
Published by The Detroit News & Detroit Free Press from Oct. 1 to Oct. 4, 2020.