World War II veteran (1944-1948) ‘Lit’l Tex” born in Bayou Springs/Zavalla, Texas, has reported to the Lord for her next assignment with the “Saints in Glory.” Eris Juanita Fuller Gillam-Ridgway lived a full and active life for ninety-four years and passed away on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.
Mrs. Juanita Ridgway lived in Baytown for over fifty-eight years and was a Texas retired educator from La Porte ISD. She was a member of the Baptist denomination for fifty years but became a member of St. John Methodist Church in Baytown, Texas, for over thirty-seven years. Mrs. Juanita was also a member of the Order of Eastern Star, a honey-bee keeper, and a Strawberry Square dancer from Pasadena. She also maintained an operator license from the Texas Cosmetology Commission, was an accomplished painter and artist, and held the positions of past president of the La Porte Retired Teachers and past Chaplain of the American Legion #323 in Baytown, Texas. She loved people, especially her family, and was always helping others. Other loves included ducks and cats.
Eris Juanita Fuller grew up in Bayou Springs, near Zavalla Texas, and graduated from high school in Zavalla in 1943. After graduation, Mrs. Juanita went to work at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1944, she joined the U. S. Navy WAVES, played on a softball team, and graduated from Hospital Corps School as a hospital apprentice 2nd class pharmacist mate from Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. After proudly serving her country in the United States Navy, “Lit’l Tex” received an honorable discharge in 1948.
Mrs. E. Juanita was married to Theodore DeVaughn Gillam for twenty-seven years and had three children, Virginia E. Vaughn, Marilyn Yvonne and Theodore Dallas Gillam. The family lived in Tokyo, Japan; San Diego, California; Frederick, Maryland; Gerald, Missouri; and Baytown, Texas. While living in Maryland, she owned and operated two beauty salons, opened the first female/male beauty shops on two military bases, Fort Detrick and Fort Richie.
While in Maryland, Mrs. Juanita graduated from Frederick Community College and Towson State University. She became a teacher and taught in Walkersville and at West Frederick Junior High. In 1969, Mrs. Juanita continued her educational career as a teacher in Gerald, Missouri.
Eris Juanita received her Master of Education degree from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and later retired from La Porte High School. After retirement, she continued in the educational field by teaching English as a Second Language and working for Harris County Dept. of Education with the GED program. In Baytown, she married Hugh M. Ridgway, lived a full and happy life, and daily walked with the Lord.
Preceding her in death are her parents, Thomas Pinkney and Olivia Parker Fuller; one sister, Virginia Fuller-Gregory; six brothers, Everett, Dewitt, Dewey, Franklin, Woodrow and Wesley Fuller; husbands, T.D. Gillam and Hugh Ridgway; and one son, T. Dallas Gillam. She is survived by her two daughters, Virginia Wallace and husband, John, and Marilyn Stoffels; ten grandchildren; many great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Monday, May 14, 2018, in the Chapel of Crespo & Jirrels Funeral Home. A celebration of life will be held immediately following the visitation at 11 a.m. Burial will be held at Concord Baptist Church Cemetery in Zavalla, Texas.
Honoring the family as pallbearers will be Dewey Stoffels, Travis Wallace, Jesse Wallace, Kori Wallace-Estrada, Isaac Estrada and Roy Gene Jones. Honorary pallbearers will be David Stoffels and John T. Wallace.
Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of Crespo & Jirrels Funeral and Cremation Services, 6123 Garth Road, Baytown 77521, 281.839.0700. To view the obituary or post a tribute to the family, visit www.crespoandjirrels.com .