Juanita Fox, affectionately known as "Momma Fox," went from labor to reward on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, at Palmetto Health Tuomey.

The life of this phenomenal woman began on Feb. 7, 1937, in Sumter County. She was the only daughter of the late Catherine Spencer and Lewis Brown. Juanita was educated in the public school system of Sumter County. In the summer of 1951, she joined her mother Catherine in New York City, where she resided for more than 40 years. Shortly after arriving in New York, she became a member of Williams Institutional CME Church, under the leadership of the late Rev. Dr. L.S. White. From a child, Juanita loved to sing and she would entertain herself for hours, tinkering on her piano and singing songs from the family's hymnal book. When the opportunity came for her to join Williams Institutional's 100-Voice Temple Choir, Juanita was thrilled. Although she was much younger than the other members, her beautiful soprano voice made room for her among those great singers.

On Easter Sunday of 1952, while sitting in the choir stand, she spotted the love of her life ("Pop Fox") coming up the aisle to join the church. When the Rev. White announced his name, she leaned over and whispered to her best friend, Lois Blue, "Mrs. Juanita Fox." After lunch that day, a courtship began that lasted 64 years. They were united in holy matrimony on Nov. 4, 1952, and from this union, they were blessed with four beautiful children, one son and three daughters, whom they nurtured to love God and each other above all else ... family over everything!

Juanita had been a domestic worker for many years. In 1966, she was employed with New York Bell Telephone Co., which later became AT&T, until her retirement in 1989. However, her greatest joy was being a wife and mother to her four children. She also helped her husband to finish raising his baby brother and baby sister when her mother-in-law passed.

Although Juanita was always a church-going, God-fearing woman, she truly gave her heart to the Lord in 1979 at the Hollis Community Bible Study. She and the family attended Bible study every Saturday night. During that time, she and "Pop Fox" joined Faithway Church of Deliverance, under the leadership of the late Pastor Mary Bryant. In the late 1990s, "Momma Fox" was ordained as a minister by the late Revs. Samuel and Elvina Manigault at the True Vine Tabernacle of God in Brooklyn, New York.

Mom and Pop Fox enjoyed spending summer vacations in Sumter with their lovable grandchildren, nieces and nephews. When they decided to officially relocate to Sumter, Mom and Pop Fox started attending Bethel Farm Pentecostal Faith Church, under the watch-care of Bishop Joseph Heyward. Once they settled in Sumter, they began a nursing home ministry that covered Darlington, Clarendon and Sumter counties. They were faithful, serving the Lord in that capacity for 19 years. After much prayer, they were led by the Lord to join Nathan Temple FBH in Hartsville, under the leadership of the late Rev. Dorothy L. Heard. Nathan Temple embraced them with open arms. Momma Fox was later ordained as a minister and would serve on the usher board. She later became president of the mothers' board.

When failing health limited their ability to travel, they began to attend Grace Cathedral Ministries. Momma Fox was loved, honored and recognized as a pillar of strength, faith and love by her Grace family. She loved and cherished her Grace family as well. It was not uncommon to see her spiritual children line up after service for hugs and kisses from their dear "mother." She was proud to serve as chaplain for the culinary ministry and prayed diligently for that leg of ministry on a daily basis.

Before Momma Fox's health failed, she loved to cook, bake and dote on her family. On any given day, you might find her preparing homemade soups, pies, banana pudding and those famous Momma Fox banana pancakes. She would deliver meals to the elderly as well as the sick and shut-in, who enjoyed her food - both the spiritual and the natural. Her smile was infectious and her prayers were powerful. Her days were filled with times of devotion, reading her word, sending cards and making phone calls to pray for whomever the Lord would lay on her heart. You might also find her tinkering on the piano, singing the hymns she loved from her childhood, and chatting with her friends on the porch at Morningside.

Before Pop Fox transitioned, she loved to watch Jimmy Swaggart Ministries while holding her honey-bun's hand. They would join in with the choir, singing her favorite hymns. Momma Fox's legacy of love touched the lives of everyone she came in contact with, not just her family. Even though her time at Morningside Assisted Living was brief, her deep love for others permeated throughout the Morningside community and she quickly made family members of the residents and staff alike.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Rutley L. Fox Sr.; a sister-in-law, Johnny Mae Calloway; two grandchildren, Joseph Brunson and Mychal JaVaughn Bernard; and her beloved great-granddogs, Kimba Fox and Mr. Kibbles Valentine Ferguson.

To cherish her memory and celebrate her legacy are her loving and devoted children, Yvette Ferguson (Raymond Sr.) of Brooklyn, New York, Lillie Fox Bernard, Rutley L. Fox Jr. (Monica) and Katrina Fox-Beard (Carl), all of Sumter; one brother-in-law, Charles Ray Fox Sr.; a sister-in-law, Peggy Fox; nine grandchildren, Monique Adafia (Ceasar), Raymond Ferguson II (Staci), LaToya Brunson, Derrick Brunson (Angela), Shannon Hopkins, Kevin Ferguson, Curtis Hopkins Jr. and Brooklyn Fox; one granddog, Sir Bear; and 15 great-grandchildren.

She also inherited seven bonus grandchildren; an adopted son and daughter, Shirley and Elijah Williams; one goddaughter, Joyce Brunson; one godson, Kennith Simon; one "brother" (cousin), Wheeler LeRoy Small; one "sister" (best friend) Lois Foster; and a host of spiritual children / grandchildren and relatives too numerous to mention.

The family is receiving relatives and friends at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Katrina Fox Beard (Carl), 4920 McPhail St., Sumter.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Grace Cathedral Church, 60 Oswego Road, Sumter, with Bishop Anthony Gibson officiating, eulogist.

The remains will be placed in the church at 8:30 a.m.

The funeral procession will leave at 9:20 a.m. from the home.

Burial will be at Evergreen Memorial Park, 802 N. Guignard Drive, Sumter.

Services directed by the management and staff of Williams Funeral Home Inc., 821 N. Main St., Sumter.

Online messages may be sent to the family at williamsfuneralhome@sc.rr.com. Visit us on the web at www.WilliamsFuneralHomeInc.com