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Aug. 21, 1923 – May 8, 2013

Juanita C. DeBerry, a retired Buffalo Public Schools teacher and active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, died Wednesday in Buffalo General Medical Center after an extended illness. She was 89.

Born Juanita Cameron in Chipley, Ga., she came to Buffalo with her family as an infant. She was a graduate of Hutchinson-Central High School and Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.

She taught at School 31 for 27 years, first as a sixth-grade language arts teacher and then as a second-grade teacher, and made a strong impact on her students.

“She still would get Christmas cards and birthday cards from some of her students,” her daughter Virginia DeBerry said.

She added, “Her grandson said it best: ‘Gram got you to do the right thing not because you were afraid to be punished, but because you were afraid to disappoint her.’ ”

After retiring, Mrs. DeBerry was a member and served on the board of the Buffalo Retired Teachers Association.

She loved music and, at age 13, won a city singing competition. She later performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as part of its Sounds of the City program. She also was a principal soloist for more than 60 years at Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, where she was a lifelong member.

Mrs. DeBerry joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in 1940 and was a founding member of Xi Epsilon Omega, the Amherst chapter. She also was a member of the Christian Women’s Association.

Her husband, John L., died in 1984. In addition to her daughter Virginia, she is survived by another daughter, Valerie; and a son, Dr. John L. III.

Visitation at 11 a.m. Wednesday will precede a service at noon in Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, 641 Masten Ave.