Mrs. James "Jukie" Merritt of Ridgeland died June 9, 2014.

Funeral services were held June 11 at First Baptist Church in Jackson. Jewel Claire Pittman was born on October 5, 1927, the child of Dr. J.J. Pittman and MattieAlbritton Pittman of Tylertown.

She attended Mississippi College in Clinton, graduating in 1949 with a degree in piano.

While her children were young, Jewel taught and directed kindergartens at Broadmoor Baptist Church and Woodland Hills Baptist Church. She later returned to the public school system, teaching first and second grades at Duling, Jones, Power, and Woodville Heights Elementary Schools.

In addition to her B.A., she earned a Masters of Education Degree from Mississippi College and an Advanced Teaching Certificate for work beyond the Masters' level.

"Ms M" climaxed her teaching career by pioneering the gifted program at Woodville Heights. Jewel and her husband taught Sunday School for over 60 years and were instrumental in the early development of the Singles Ministry at First Baptist Church, Jackson.

Jewel was a member of the Sanctuary Choir and later of the Senior Adult "Reflections" Choir at First Baptist.

After their retirements from public education, James and Jewel spent several months in Tel Aviv, Israel as house parents at the mission home for missionary kids who were attending school away from their parents. Mrs. Merritt is survived by her husband of 64 years, James; her sons, Jim Merritt of Clinton and Dr. Greg Merritt of Hattiesburg (Leslie); three grandchildren; her brother, Dr. Jimmy Pittman of Laurel (Cindy); and many nieces and nephews. Memorials gifts may be made to the Lottie Moon offering at First Baptist Church Jackson or to the charity of your choice.