Janell Rhodes Watkins

Janell Rhodes Watkins

Janell Rhodes Watkins, 98, of Jena, passed from this life on Sunday, January 3, 2021, at the LaSalle General Hospital of Jena.

She was born February 27, 1922 in Douglas, Georgia, to the union of her parents, Charles A. Rhodes and Annie Dorminey Rhodes. She was an only child, but had three aunts very close in age that were like sisters.

Janell graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Florida.

Her parents operated a full-service filling station where she helped “manage” the station. She and her parents were active in their church, Faith Temple, where she met Jesse Watkins.

They were married December 24, 1944 and immediately went to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Over the next six and a half decades, they served churches in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.

She was dedicated to her husband, family and church, but most of all to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Her desire was that people would see Jesus, not Janell. She was known among her church family as a prayer warrior and was faithful in her attendance, regardless of the weather or how she was feeling.

In the last few years, she was known as the “pillow lady” for the pillows she made to benefit Operation Christmas Child. Her caregiver, Sonia White, did the cutting and sewing while Mrs. Janell stuffed the pillows.

Services were held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6, at First Baptist Church of Jena with Dr. Rick Feazell and Rev. Terry Townsend officiating.

Interment followed in the Woodland Cemetery, east of Jena, under direction of Hixson Brothers Funeral Home of Jena.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jesse B. Watkins; son, David B. Watkins and wife Brenda Lee Watkins; and parents, Charles A. Rhodes and Annie Belle Dorminey Rhodes.

Those left to cherish her memory include her daughter, Lysta Ann Haynes and husband, Barry of Fort Worth, TX; son, Thomas “Tom” Rhodes Watkins and wife Nannette of Jena; daughter, Susan Jane Pyle and husband Stephen of Herrin, IL; 13 grandchildren; 29 great grandchildren; and one great great grandchild, Caitlin Janell Kirk.

The family requests that memorials be made to the building fund at First Baptist Church of Jena or Gideons International.

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