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Juanita Armista Sanders McClanahan

November 11, 1924 – May 10 , 2021

Juanita Armista Sanders McClanahan, November 11, 1924 – May 10, 2021

Born to Sylvia and Arthur Sanders on a farm outside Lafayette, Indiana, Juanita was welcomed by her siblings Merrill, Leland, and Barbara (all now deceased) and given the middle name “Armista” to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the armistice that ended WW1. In childhood she loved riding horses across the fields of the family farm, swimming in the creek with her father and brothers, and learning from her mother how to quilt and sew. She graduated Battle Ground High School and, after one year at Purdue University, worked as the first female timekeeper at the Aluminum Plant in Lafayette.

In 1945 she married Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Paul Glenn McClanahan, who would later complete 26 years of active duty, retiring as a Lt. Colonel. (Paul died in 2016). Their union produced seven children, six of whom survive: Jennifer Dicks (CA); Thomas McClanahan (FL); and Rebecca McClanahan, Claudia Marcolese, Rick McClanahan, and Lana Rubright (all of NC). A daughter, Sylvia Sue, died in infancy.

Wherever the Marine Corps stationed the McClanahans, Juanita created homes that welcomed neighbors, friends, and extended family. When her youngest entered school, Juanita returned to college, earning a degree in Early Childhood Development and later opening a preschool in Tustin, California. Re-settling in Lafayette after Paul’s retirement, “Miss Nita” taught in several preschools, including at Calvary Baptist Church, where she and Paul were active members. Juanita also served in several officiating roles in the D.A.R., the Americus Quilting Club, the Writers Forum, and the Stitch and Chatter sewing group. In 2014, Paul and Juanita moved from Lafayette to Charlotte, NC, to be closer to family.

Juanita’s exquisite quilts and handiwork represent the patchwork of lives she touched, and her love of music, art, and education continues to inspire her descendants. In addition to the six aforementioned children and their spouses, Juanita’s survivors include 16 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and a host of friends and extended family members. “Armista” was the perfect middle name for a woman who believed in peace and practiced it. Her heart was open to all, and her enduring kindness, humor, humanity, and unconditional love sustained her until the end.

At a date yet to be determined, Juanita and Paul will be interred together, with military honors, at Arlington National Cemetery.

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