Juanita Diggs Wilks, passed away peacefully on May 8, 2020. Juanita was born on September 8,1937 in Warwick County, Virginia. She was the youngest of 6 children (Samuel, Flossie, Richard, Evelyn and Alphonso) born to Catherine and Samuel Diggs. After graduation from George Washington Carver High School in Newport News, Virginia, Juanita attended and graduated in 1959 from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina. After graduation, Juanita began a long and illustrious career in public education, teaching history at several schools in Portsmouth, Virginia including Churchland Junior High School and Churchland High School. During her time teaching at Churchland Junior High, she earned a masters degree in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She served as the school librarian at Churchland High School until her retirement in 1991.
In June of 1962, Juanita married Sidney Wilks and from that union were born two children, Stephanie (Perdue) and Sidney Jr. She was a devoted mother and proud grandmother, often sharing stories about her grandchildren's exploits and accomplishments.
In the Portsmouth community, Juanita was an active member of Zion Baptist Church where she founded the church library. She also assisted with the youth ministry as her children were active participants. In addition, she served in the women's ministry, the Active Women of Zion.
After returning to Newport News following her retirement, Juanita was a devoted member of St. Georges Episcopal Church where she was loved by many. She enjoyed serving in the Homeless Winter Shelter ministry, singing in the choir and serving on the church vestry.
Juanita was fearless and was never afraid of change. This was demonstrated most recently by her choice four years ago to move to Ellicott City, Maryland where she became a vibrant part of a retirement community and her grandchildren's lives. She enjoyed participating in the Black History Month program, the chorale and the book club as well as many more community activities at Alta at Regency Crest.
She was an avid reader and wordsmith and had a lifetime interest in United States and African American history. She was a spiritual woman and often spoke to her children and grandchildren about her faith and the importance of maintaining their spirituality. She was opinionated and loved a good debate. Juanita had a number of devoted friends with whom she enjoyed sharing a lifetime of love and laughter. She was a beloved aunt and cousin who freely shared her life's wisdom. She loved her family and was fiercely loyal to them.
Juanita is survived by her children, Stephanie Wilks Perdue (Paul) and Sidney Jr.; 4 grandchildren (Ross and Kendall Perdue, and Kwame and Akin Wilks); her sister (Flossie) and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.
Visitation will be offered on Saturday, May 16th from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at O. H. Smith & Son Funeral Home in Newport News and will be sensitive to current public health precautions. A private service will follow. A public memorial service and celebration of Juanita's life will occur following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Condolences can be mailed to P.O. Box 669, Fulton, Maryland, 20759.