Juanita ‘Waukee’ Poe, 102

Graveside services for Juanita Loraine “Waukee” Kirkland Poe, 102, of Springfield, formerly of Udall, were held June 22, 2024, at Udall Price Mitchell Cemetery, under the direction of Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.

She died June 15 after a life well lived.

She was born Aug. 25, 1921, to parents James Bonnie Kirkland and Etta Rowene Ellison Kirkland, on a hot summer’s day weighing in at 13 pounds. She was given the name "Waukee" which was considered a Native American term for strong. 

She was raised in Ozark County on the Missouri-Arkansas border where she came to know a way life of surviving off the land without modern conveniences of vehicles or electricity. She enjoyed exploring the great outdoors with her siblings Christine, Bill and Jim, and wading in the cold water flowing from the North Fork of the White River.  

At the age of 15 she went to live in Kansas City as a nanny for three years, where she experienced electricity, street cars and indoor plumbing for the first time. Upon her return to Ozark County, the adjustment back to a way of life without such conveniences was difficult. 

She earned her chauffeurs license and began driving a "dam truck" hauling men to worksites around the Norfork Dam, which was under construction at the time. 

She married Willie Lee Poe on Jan. 3, 1944, and they began a good life together working a family ranch and livestock business. 

They had their first daughter Kathryn April 1, 1945, and another daughter Rosaleah, who died at birth, in December of 1947.  Waukee was active in community events and clubs while maintaining all the responsibilities of living in the Ozarks on a cattle farm, raising her daughter and caring for other family members. 

Waukee then got a son-in-law when Kathryn married Dennis Slane in December 1974. When her Grandson Brent was born in April of 1982, she was thrilled to begin sharing all the farm life with him. 

Her husband Willie suddenly died April 4, 1986, while working with his cattle. Waukee continued raising livestock and managing the family farm. Local cattlemen were amazed at her skill of leading a herd of 50 cattle anywhere she wanted by simply carrying a 5-gallon bucket of dairy feed with her and they would follow. No horses, four wheelers, dogs or hooping and hollerin’ was as effective in herding cattle as Waukee was able to do with simple kindness. 

Quilting and crocheting were favorite hobbies she enjoyed, making pieces for her family to display and keep warm with. She enjoyed cooking up a hearty traditional farm breakfast to sustain everyone who shared a place at her table over the years. She continued handling the strenuous chores of farm life well into her late 80s. She enjoyed spending time with her family and reading the local newspapers while keeping her hands and mind busy with crocheting and crafts.  

After her daughter Kathryn died from covid-19, just days after Waukee’s 100th birthday, Waukee moved to Springfield Villa, a skilled nursing facility, where she was loved and cared for by so many that came to know her for her kind and strong spirit. She enjoyed eating almost anything, but the one thing she enjoyed the most was an ice-cold Coke.

Waukee is survived by her grandson Brent Slane and son-in-law Dennis Slane, as well as many nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank everyone who came and visited with Waukee the past few years, and the teams from Springfield Villa, and Preferred Hospice for making her last days comfortable and peaceful.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and may be left at or mailed to Robertson-Drago Funeral Home, 211 West Main, West Plains, MO  65775.  Online condolences may be left at www.robertsondrago.com.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423