Juanita “Nita” Fearless Schroeder McKeehan died peacefully in her sleep Aug. 7 at home with her family. She was weeks from her 89th birthday.
Nita was an extraordinary woman. The daughter of a farmer-turned-auto-dealer in Salem, Ill., she went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Illinois College at a time when many women did not seek higher education. She turned down a scholarship to MIT so as not to be a financial burden on her family, and moved to Chicago for work.
When World War II began, she joined the Army Security Agency (now the NSA), working as a codebreaker. It was there that she met the love of her life, John Badger McKeehan.
Nita and John were engaged three days after their first date, married the next week, and remained happily married for 52 years until his passing in 2003. They traveled around the world following John’s work, including four years spent in Japan. In the early 1980s they settled in the Bay Area, where Nita began a successful home business as a typesetter.
Nita and John moved to Nevada County in the early 1990s, and became very active in the local community. As board members and docents on the Independence Trail, they contributed time and love to the trail’s refurbishment.
Later, as residents at Eskaton Village, they founded the residents association; Nita edited the community newsletter.
We all love you Mom, Gram, Aunt Nita, and we’ll miss you!
Nita was also a talented artist, creating modern abstract and impressionist batik and fabric art. She knitted and crocheted, sewed and quilted garments and blankets for her family. And she was a whiz in the kitchen: Her cranberry orange bread is the stuff of legends.
Nita’s legacy is strong and loving. She is survived by a daughter, Judi McKeehan; son, David McKeehan; grandchildren Jessica and Brook Reeder and Lucas McKeehan; niece, Patty Schumm; and countless lives she tou
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