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Leneta Ray Jacks

Fayetteville, AR, 1927 - 2022

Leneta "Nita" Ray Allen Jacks of Fayetteville passed away peacefully at Willard Walker Hospice Home on October 21 at age 95. She was born on April 3, 1927, in Whiting, Ind., and grew up in La Grange, Ark. As the Great Depression hit, her father logged in the St. Francis National Forest, her mother farmed and was the town midwife and the children were educated in the local one-room schoolhouse and helped the family around the house and farm. At age 16, Nita attended high schools in Marianna and Hughes and worked in the afternoons for the small-town bank in Hughes, where she learned all aspects of banking. She was the only surviving sibling of her family of 14 children.
In 1946, Nita attended Arkansas State College in Jonesboro, where she met Ernest "Ernie" Eugene Jacks, Jr., right after his return from WWII. They were married in 1947 and moved to Fayetteville so Ernie could attend the fledgling architecture program at the University of Arkansas. Because Nita had gained knowledge of all aspects of banking as a teenager, she was sought after to work in banks in Fayetteville, as Ernie served in the Navy during the Korean War and while joining him as he finished his service at the Naval Base on Coronado Island. She continued working in banks as Ernie worked in architectural practices in Los Angeles, Calif., Norman, Okla., Palo Alto, Calif., Manhattan, N.Y. and Raleigh, N.C. After returning to Fayetteville, daughter Jennifer was born in 1958, and Nita devoted herself to full-time motherhood.
When Ernie was offered and accepted a professorship in the Architecture Department at the University of Arkansas, the family resettled in Fayetteville, purchasing a home atop Mt. Sequoyah at the end of 1961. Nita devoted herself to homemaking at the "old farmhouse" on six mostly-wooded acres; she spent many days painting the large two-sided wrap-around porch and taming and maintaining two acres of land around the house. She was a leader for the Archiwives, a group of women married to Architecture faculty and students. She and Ernie hosted legendary Architecture Department "bashes" at their home or on their cabin cruiser on Beaver Lake. Nita was famous for her breakfasts (often served at 1 p.m.!) on the boat. She also greatly enjoyed fishing with her sister and brother-in-law, Henri Irene, and Bill "Boots" Casteel on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. Nita took up knitting, winning two Blue Ribbons for her satin-lined knitted coats at the Washington County Fair. She was the "resident grammarian" in the family, often referring to The Elements of Style (Strunk & White) in making her points about grammar and usage of the English language. However, that did not mean she lacked humor; she had a sharp and witty sense of humor, and told a great joke! Nita was a highly compassionate, generous and kind woman who loved to have fun with other people. She was a devoted wife, making unheard-of heart-healthy meals when Ernie developed high cholesterol in the 1970s. As a constant and involved mother, she volunteered as homeroom mother at Washington Elementary and as a Girl Scout leader. During Nita's entire adult life, she and Ernie always had black plume-tail cats, which she took great care of. She also loved her "grand dogs." She returned to the banking profession in 1973 at First Federal Savings & Loan, working there for several years.
In Nita's later years, she continued friendships with her many friends and walked the neighborhood or, in the winter, in the mall hallways before it opened. She reveled in solving cryptograms and was a voracious reader. In the 1980s, she made several trips to California to visit her daughter. After Jennifer moved back to Fayetteville in 1994, the family enjoyed lively conversations, meals and Razorback football games together. Nita joined her daughter on two legendary trips to Jamaica, where she was loved by everyone she met! She was always up for a new adventure. After losing her husband, Nita joined the residents at Brookstone Assisted Living, where she continued an active lifestyle of walking in the hallways and joining in the balloon volleyball matches, showing a competitive streak.
Nita was preceded in death by her husband, Ernie Jacks, after 72 years of marriage, in February 2020. She is survived by her daughter Jennifer and son-in-law Don Shreve of Fayetteville, granddaughter Robyn (Vince) of Catonsville, Md., and grandson Austin (Brittany) of Ruckersville, Va., as well as all of their children. Additionally, close-at-heart are her twin niece and nephew, Connie and Donnie (Nancy) Casteel of Bartlesville, Okla., and niece Cheryl Ann (Jim) Doddridge of Traskwood.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Cheryl Hennigan, the staff at Brookstone Assisted Living, the doctors and nurses at Washington Regional, "adopted daughter" Amy Wilson and especially the doctor and nurses at Willard Walker Hospice Home.
Details for a memorial service in March are forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Willard Walker Hospice Home at Arrangements by Roller-Christeson Funeral Home. Online Guestbook:

Published October 25, 2022

Roller-Christeson Funeral Home
519 N. Spring Street, P.O. Box 100, Harrison, AR
Phone: 870-741-3113