Juanita “Nita” Teresa Melancon was born on Sept 30, 1931 in Sulphur, Louisiana. She was the first child and only daughter of Delta Marie Moss and Henry Louis Melancon. Nita’s younger brother Malcom was born a little over a year later in 1932.
During her childhood, Nita and her family moved around to different locations in Louisiana and Texas due to her father’s job as a Dredge boat captain. Both her parents came from large families, so she was rarely without cousins and Aunts and Uncles nearby. She once shared the story of the great fun they had going to the movies with her brother; both being given a dime – 5 cents for admission to the movie and 5 cents for popcorn. She had many fond memories of her childhood such as eating vegetables fresh from the garden, chewing on a piece of sugarcane chopped fresh from her Uncles crops, or swimming and catching fresh shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico.
Nita always loved learning and reading. From a young age Nita knew she wanted to be a teacher. She was active on many committees throughout college. Nita was voted “most studious” of her class. She went to McNeese State College in Lake Charles Louisiana and graduated in 1955 with a teaching degree.
While in college, Nita would often attend dances that Airforce servicemen were invited to attend. It was at one of these dances that Nita met her sweetheart, Frederick William Garber. Fred was given Honorable discharge in 1955 and moved home to Glenside PA. After graduation Nita moved to Glenside PA to be near Fred as they prepared for their upcoming marriage. Nita did not yet have her PA teaching certificate, so she worked as a secretary until she was able to receive her Teaching certificate.
Fred and Nita were married on July 21, 1955 in North Hills, PA at Carmel Presbyterian Church. Within a year of marriage, they bought their first and only house on Hazel Avenue in North Hills, PA. Nita taught elementary school for several years until she and Fred had their first child, Frederick “Freddy” William Garber Jr in May of 1959. A daughter, Virginia “Ginny” Lynn Garber was born in November of 1961.
In 1966, Fred and Nita bought a vacation cottage in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island. Many weekends throughout the year, and many weeks during the summers were spent there, enjoying the beach, the ocean and fishing. Fred and Nita owned two boats over the years and the whole family enjoyed fishing and time on the ocean. During this time Fred and Nita learned the art of making stained glass and for many years sold their pieces at a quaint souvenir shop at Bay Village in Beach Haven.
Nita had many hobbies and greatly enjoyed cooking, reading, bowling, card games and word games, especially “Upwords” and “Scrabble”. She had a weekly bowling group for many years, and often played bridge and other card games with close friends. The whole family enjoyed baseball games and would often attend the Philadelphia Phillies games at Veterans Stadium. It was common to hear Nita whooping and cheering at games or while watching them on TV. Nita also loved music and had the opportunity to see Broadway musicals and concerts in her later years.
After Fred retired, Fred and Nita had wonderful memories from taking many trips, including trips to Las Vegas and Florida, cruises to Alaska and the Caribbean, and visiting Ginny and her family in Idaho, and family in Texas and Louisiana. Nita always helped when new grandbabies were born and delighted in those precious new additions to the family.
Nita’s health began to decline in 2015. As Fred’s health declined too and Nita had a stroke in April 2019, they sold their home on Hazel Avenue in North Hills, PA, after owning it for over 63 years. They relocated to Meridian, ID, in June of 2019 to be closer to their daughter Ginny and her family. Together, Fred and Nita were well taken care of by the staff at The Touchmark Assisted Living and by Ginny and her family. Fred passed away on February 16, 2020. At this time, Fred and Nita had been married for 64 ½ years.
Shortly after Fred passed away, Covid-19 meant that no visitors were allowed at the assisted living where Nita resided. Phone and Video calls became the way Nita and family connected. Nita passed away very peacefully on July 28, 2020, just 5 months after Fred. Ginny was extremely grateful to be able to be with her as she passed.
Nita was predeceased by her parents and husband Fred. She is survived by her Brother Malcom, son Fred and daughter-in-law Mary, daughter Ginny and son-in-law Kevin, 9 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. Nita is remembered for her bright smile, cheerful personality, and kindness. She had a warm, loving and inviting personality and a deep compassion for others that was felt by anyone who was blessed to know her. She was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.