SIKESTON - The joy bells of heaven were ringing throughout the heavenly realm because another one of God's precious children was entering Heaven's gates.
Jennie Lou "Jenna" Richards had successfully completed her earthly journey in Sikeston, Mo., on Sept. 7, 2006. Her parents, Ray and Willie Richards, together with many other family and friends who preceded Jenna, were excitedly awaiting her arrival in the celestial city.
Jennie Lou was born in Vanduser, Mo., on Oct. 11, 1936; the fourth child, she was loved and adored as the baby of the family. Her childlike beauty was early recognized in a national children's photography contest.
Her older brother, John Dale (Jack), predeceased her.
Older sisters, Wanda Gail Richards Spivey, and her husband Virlin (Ed) now reside in St. Augustine, Fla., and Willadean Richards Stearnes lives in Albuquerque, N.M., (her husband Bill Stearnes is deceased).
Donald Ray Richards, son of Jack Richards, also grew up living in the Richards' home from shortly after his birth. Don and wife Gail are residents of Dexter.
Jennie Lou attended Sikeston Public Schools until she became one of 16 original employees at the Sikeston Community Sheltered Workshop. This workshop was created in 1970 by a group of parents of developmentally handicapped children. Jenna Lou, as she was affectionately called, dearly loved the workshop. She liked to travel with her family, providing they returned so she could be at the Workshop on Monday.
Jenna Lou was also an avid church attender. She attended First Baptist Church in Sikeston during her early years; later she attended the Church of God of Prophecy where she asked Christ to be her personal savior.
After Jenna's parents died, she lived in Katie and Ken Conway's Group Home, (later to be the Ken Jr. and Kathy Conway Group Home) in Lilbourn. She continued to travel weekdays to the Workshop and attended the Lilbourn Baptist Church on Sundays. She was in the Missouri Delta Community Hospital in Sikeston for several weeks before she departed upon her final heavenly journey.
Jenna Lou is survived by nieces and nephews in the following families: Ed Jr. and Tricia Spivey, Gail and John Veale, Richard and Nan Spivey, Mike and Sylvia Stearnes, Bob and Jennifer Stearnes and Vickie Richards. Johnny Richards is deceased.
Jenna Lou is also survived and remembered by many loving cousins, living locally and in other parts of the country. Jennie's friends were everyone she had ever met; no one was ever a stranger.
No visitation is scheduled.
Services for Jenna Lou will be at 2 p.m. Friday at the Ponder Funeral Home in Sikeston. The Rev. Dick Smith and wife, Jeannette, who live in the Charleston Baptist Association Camp parsonage will conduct the service assisted by Kathryn Spalding of Elizabethtown, Ky., who are all cousins of Jennie Lou.
Burial will follow at the Sikeston Memorial Park.
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Memorial donations may be made to:
Community Sheltered Workshop
515 N. West St.
Sikeston, MO 63801 or a charity of the donor's choice.