Wilna Juanita Rigby Rogers, a beloved member of the Brandon, MS community, passed away on July 30, 2023. She was born on November 18, 1936, in French Camp, MS to Mamie Lou Downing Rigby and William Lawson Rigby. She spent later childhood years in Gulfport, MS and attended Belhaven College.
Wilna married Tommy Stewart in 1958 and spent many years in Jackson and then Madison raising her 4 children. She was a devoted mother and housewife during this time and loved all the fun and chaos that came with raising 4 children.
Once her children were older she completed a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. And embarked on a nursing career and eventually retired as a Nursing Supervisor from St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, MS. Her compassion, expertise, and dedication to nursing were admired by both her colleagues and those who had the privilege of receiving her care. Even after retiring from St. Dominic Hospital, Wilna continued assisting the nuns there voluntarily for many years.
Wilna married Dr. Frank Rogers (Doc) in 1984 and they made a home in Harrisville, MS for many years. They embraced the small community where they would often stop by the post office or grocery to chat with the locals.
Wilna's love for the water and boating defined her leisure activities. She enjoyed spending endless weekends on the river surrounded by friends and family. Upon returning home from these adventures, Wilna warmly greeted everyone with a home cooked meal prepared with love. She was known for her slow-smoked meats and vegetables that had been simmering all day in the crockpot. Her generous spirit extended to all who crossed her path as she welcomed all to the table. Additionally, no southern gathering was complete without Wilna's authentic cornbread which was present at every meal.
Wilna and Doc enjoyed spending time at Safe Harbor Marina and Timberlake Campgrounds. It was during their time there that Wilna became a member of the "Campground Cuties," a group known for their camaraderie and joyful presence. Beyond being a part of the "Campground Cuties," Wilna was also a proud member of "The Gritts Mafia." This unique group consisted of Mississippi State Veterinarian’s wives bound by friendship and shared experiences.
Wilna had many passions in life; one of them was dancing. She and Frank were ardent members of their local dance club and found immense joy in gliding across the dance floor together. Wilna also had a love of traveling and went on countless memorable journeys throughout the United States as well as Europe, Brazil and Canada. These travels allowed her to immerse herself in different cultures and create lifelong memories with Doc by her side.
Wilna will be lovingly remembered by her surviving family members and cherished friends. Wilna is survived by her daughters, Cynthia Stewart and her husband Rick Summerlin, and Melissa Lynn Shanteau; her son Tom Stewart and Michael Stewart and his wife Michelle; her stepsons, Brother Rogers and Frank Rogers, Jr.; her sister, Ruth Eschete and her husband Carol; as well as by her 15 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank Rogers and her brother, Clifford Rigby.
Wilna Rigby Rogers leaves behind a legacy of compassion, joy and love of family and friends. While she will be deeply missed by all, Wilna's spirit will forever live on in the hearts and lives of her children and grandchildren and all that had the privilege of knowing her.
In honor of Wilna's life, a memorial service will be held 11:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2023 at Lakeside Presbyterian Church where friends and family are invited to pay their respects and join in the celebration of Wilna’s life. Visitation will begin at 10:00 am prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Lakeside Presbyterian Church or French Camp Academy.