Funeral services for Johnnie Beth Pitts will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 12, 2009, at the First Baptist Church in Brownwood, with interment to follow in Eastlawn Memorial Park under the direction of Davis-Morris Funeral Home. Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, at the funeral home.
Johnnie Elizabeth “J.B.” Pitts of Brownwood, passed on to join her savior, the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, after a courageous and dignified battle with cancer. An educator, business woman and family matriarch, J.B. will be missed but always remembered by all of those fortunate enough to have been touched by her life.
J.B. was born in Bluff Dale, Texas, on Feb. 18, 1926, to Johnnie Golden and Gladys Rhoades Jenkins. After graduating from Stephenville High School in 1943, J.B. left Bluff Dale for Brownwood to attend Howard Payne College in what would become a lifetime of service, dedication and love for the school and city. J.B. graduated from Howard Payne in 1947 and subsequently attained her Masters of Education from the school in 1956.
During a fateful encounter in the school cafeteria, she met Howard Payne’s head cheerleader and the future head cheerleader for the City of Brownwood, the one and only, Groner Adams Pitts. J.B. and Groner were married on Aug. 14, 1947. While the story of her wonderful life with Groner could be described in no less than a hundred interesting, hilarious, compassionate and sometimes zany soliloquies, it most certainly is best summed up by the words love and devotion; to a life centered in family, Christianity, education, philanthropy and community.
J.B. and Groner gave birth to Robert Fred “Bobby” Pitts in 1948 and John Charles “Crab” Pitts in 1950. With her young family well underway, J.B. joined the faculty of Howard Payne in 1955, teaching business and accounting for 17 years. During this time she was teacher, counselor, mentor and friend to her many students. In addition to being awarded the title of Associate Professor Emeritus of Business Administration at Howard Payne, her years of outstanding service would also earn her the honor of being the first recipient of the HPU “Yellow Rose Award” in 2005, for exemplary leadership and Christian values foundational to the university.
J.B. joined a small and prestigious group of forward thinking women owning businesses in downtown Brownwood when she purchased 4 Corners from Yankee Sutton in 1978. For 15 years, she would build her business into a highly successful enterprise while playing a very active role in promoting and developing the downtown business district.
J.B. was an avid sports fan, following with great passion the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets, Brownwood Lions, Texas Longhorns, Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks. From having to endure Groner’s verbal onslaughts of “Mr. Ref” at Howard Payne men’s basketball games, train rides and car caravans to Brownwood High football games, cross country excursions with the Lady Jackets basketball team, watching televised sporting events and listening by radio to the iconic voice of Brownwood sportscaster, Dallas Huston; J.B. was without a doubt, one of the most knowledgeable and fervent sports fans in Brownwood.
A very active and involved member of the First Baptist Church in Brownwood, J.B. was a devout Christian and servant of the Lord. She served on many church committees and was particularly instrumental in the church’s 100th and 125th Year Celebrations. J.B.’s choir membership through the years was a statement and testament to her love for her church and the importance of ministry through music.
She is survived by her loving family including her son Robert Fred “Bobby” Pitts, son John Charles “Crab” Pitts and his wife Mona; her grandchildren, the two most precious people in her life, Amary Beth Pitts, daughter of Bobby, and J.C. Pitts, son to Crab and Mona, all of Brownwood. She is also survived by her nephew, Rell Rice, his wife Betty and their children Trevor and Julia Rice of Austin; Mona’s brother, Michael Luckey, his wife Jeanni and their daughters Nicole and Morgan Wright of Brownwood; J.B.’s brother-in-law Harrell Rice and his wife Louise of El Paso; her great-niece Paula Hoover of Brownwood; and numerous in-laws from the Bill and Jacquelyn Powell family of Dallas, Houston and Lubbock.
Preceding J.B. into the arms of the Lord are her mother and father, Gladys and Johnnie Jenkins; her dear sister, Betty Jo “Doe” Rice, and her beloved Groner.
J.B., for all you have accomplished, all you have given, all you have served, and all you have loved, thank you and may God’s blessings fill you through eternity.
Open your arms, Groner, the Blond Bomber is coming home!
The family is very grateful and appreciative to all of J.B.’s many friends, including her First Baptist Church Smith Sunday School Class, for your generous deeds, loving care, prayers and friendship. Also, to Donna Jones, Sharon Gunter, Loretta Young, Fran Silva, Dr. Byrd and the Lighthouse team for your professional, yet most compassionate care at home with J.B.
The family encourages donations be made to the Johnnie Beth Pitts Scholarship Fund at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas.