Friends mourn Mississippi woman who for decades welcoming guests from around the world into her antebellum home

Published 9:15 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

When Marjorie Feltus Hawkins was cleaning out her mother’s desk on Tuesday morning, she came across an essay written by one of her mother’s former students.

Hawkins’ mother, Jeanette Sanders Feltus, died Friday, Oct. 1. Services will be held on Oct. 11, her birthday, at Jefferson Street United Methodist Church at 2:30 p.m.

“She didn’t keep many things from when she taught, but she kept this,” Hawkins said.

The paper, entitled, “The Causes and Reconstruction of the Civil War,” was dated Feb. 20, 1961, and was written by Valerie Swinny Bergeron. Feltus scored it an A.

Bergeron would later become a friend of Feltus and work with her on Pilgrimage Garden Club projects.

“She taught me when I was in the ninth grade,” Bergeron said. “She was a wonderful teacher. I can still say the Preamble to the Constitution because of Jeanette Feltus.”

Feltus, originally from Oxford, graduated from Millsaps College in Jackson and took pre-law courses there.

Feltus told a Natchez Democrat reporter in 2018 she wanted to go to law school, “but girls didn’t go to law school when I wanted to go.”

She moved to Natchez and began her teaching career, that only lasted a few years before she married her husband, Richard Feltus, and had two daughters.

Feltus lived in antebellum Linden for about 63 years and operated it as a bed and breakfast for many of those years.

“She was just a wonderful teacher and a fun teacher. She was the kind of teacher who made you want to make her happy and learn. She was going to open your brain and pour it in, whether you liked it or not,” Bergeron said. “And she had the most gorgeous legs. She would sit on the edge of her desk and I remember her legs. She had such pretty clothes and had a sweet, pretty face and a loving, charming smile. Jeanette was a wonderful person. She was a darling, sweet, special person in our lives.”

Feltus loved antiques and co-founded the Natchez Antiques Forum.

“She was pure enthusiasm and joy for life. There was never anything negative from Jeanette. She loved Natchez and wanted to share it with as many people as possible and show off our beautiful Natchez,” Bergeron said. “We will certainly miss her.”

Bettye Jenkins of Natchez was a friend of Feltus’ and played bridge with her.

“I loved her very much. She was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. She loved for people to come through Linden and to talk to them,” Jenkins said. “We had lots of fun at the bridge table and we traveled some together. There was no place we went that she didn’t tell people about Natchez and let them know it is the greatest place to live on earth.”

Kit Parker of Natchez roomed with Feltus during their first year of teaching in Natchez.

“We roomed with my family to be — in one of the Parker houses — though I didn’t realize that at the time,” Parker said. “There were four or five of us that lived in the upstairs of the house.”

Parker said Linden was at the center of Feltus’ heart.

“She absolutely loved Linden. That was her whole life.”