Juanita Cole


There is a presence and poise about Juanita Cole. Her domineer speaks of grace and gentility. The ethnic clothes she wears recall memories of many lands and many languages. Juanita’s calm, gently-modulated voice suggests that she has been in conversations with dignitaries from around the world. Indeed she has been. For 30 years Juanita held a position

 in the Foreign Service of the U.S. State Department. She was one of the first African American women to hold such a position.


In France she hosted dinner parties for the international set.In more than a dozen countries, Juanita entertained her guests with music, dancing and gourmet foods—many of them made with her own hands. This was Juanita’s life when she was in good health—before the debilitating effects of severe diabetes.

Now she spends her days at the Johnson Center. She likes to go out for lunch and be around people. She enjoys mind-stimulating activities and best of all, she can’t wait for the dancing and music to begin after lunch. But be advised, when you ask her to dance, you are in for the ride of your life. Her feet explode to the beat with energetic stomps. Her arms punctuate the air in rhythmic gyrations. For a moment she is queen of the dance floor, transported to a different country in another world.