Miss Alabama 2000 pageant winner Jana Sanderson McEachern has died at the age of 43.
Ms. Sanderson was a Samford University student who majored in communications after winning the competition, AL.com reported. In the 2001 Miss America pageant, she finished in the top 10.
Crestwood Funeral Home did not include a cause of death in the obituary for Ms. Sanderson, who said she died at her home in Gadsen.
But J&D Farms, a wedding and event venue co-created by Ms. Sanderson, wrote on Facebook that she “bravely faced cancer with grace and dignity only Jana could.”
“Every week of her infusion she prepared care packages for all of her infusion nurses. She did it too within weeks [when] it became a struggle to stand or feel her fingers due to the effects of chemotherapy,” wrote the local. “She would choose special gifts for each nurse and spend hours wrapping them. from this.
Her obituary states that after graduating, she “continued to excel in her field as a photographer and marketing specialist with the Gadsden Chamber of Commerce, Joe McEachern Photography, J&D Farms, and most recently with the Auburn University School of Aviation” .
“When Jana wasn’t working her marketing magic professionally, she was into art, decadent food, good architecture, and travelling,” she said.
She is survived by her mother, siblings, grandparents and ex-husband.
“A very talented, intelligent, sweet and kind soul, she brought warmth to every room and charmed everyone she met,” the Miss Alabama pageant posted on Facebook. “We are lucky to have known Jana and to have her represent our state as Miss Alabama.”
Miss Alabama 2004 and Miss America 2005, Deidre Downs Gunn, said in a statement that Ms. Sanderson’s death is “a profound loss to all who knew her, including her Miss Alabama family.”
“Jana was one of those rare people who could walk into a room and people would be drawn to her just because of her warmth and charisma,” she added.
The Theater of Gadsen posted on Facebook that Ms Sanderson “grew up in the theater … and has been in many plays.”
“His talent will never be forgotten, but above all his kindness and gentle soul will also be remembered. Jana, you have no idea how many lives you’ve touched, but we’re confident your legacy will continue to touch many more,” the theater added.