Friends and family are remembering Dr. Dorothey Anne “Dottie” Pernell-Saunders, a longtime chiropractor, for her warm, affectionate nature and her deep devotion to faith.
Dr. Pernell-Saunders died Saturday. She was 63. Graveside services were held Monday at Itta Bena Cemetery.
Born in Charleston, Dr. Pernell-Saunders attended Mississippi Delta Community College and Delta State University and then graduated from Logan University in Chesterfield, Missouri, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in human biology and a degree in chiropractic.
For three decades, she worked as a chiropractor, serving patients through her own practice as well as student-athletes at Mississippi Valley State University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Jackson State University.
Additionally, she had served as a continuing education speaker and president of the Mississippi State Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
“She loved every patient she ever saw,” said Eleanor Acosta, who had known Dr. Pernell-Saunders for about 40 years and worked for her for around seven years. “They became like family to her. They swapped recipes. It was amazing.”
Acosta said Dr. Pernell-Saunders was “the best boss in the whole world” and “treated her team like her family members.”
For her work, Dr. Pernell-Saunders received numerous accolades, from being selected regularly as the best chiropractor in town in the Commonwealth’s People’s Choice Awards to being recognized as one of the state’s top 50 business women in 2017 by the Mississippi Business Journal.
The Leflore County Board of Supervisors honored her Monday with a resolution.
“She was great, and she will be missed,” District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham said.
Dr. Pernell-Saunders’ daughter, Dr. Erin Jacobs Stagner, also a chiropractor, had worked with her mother at the same practice for several years.
“She was the epitome of positivity and wisdom,” Stagner said. “She loved sports and shopping, cooking, spending time with her grandkids and at the lake house. She loved her work and her patients.
“She always made sure that those who didn’t have local family spent the holidays with ours,” Stagner said. “Mom never cooked a meal for only two people, and you never left her house without a Tupperware or a to-go plate.”
Dr. Pernell-Saunders also was known for her strong faith.
“Dottie Pernell was a dynamo of unconditional love. She used her medical practice to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Magdalene Abraham, who had been friends with Dr. Pernell-Saunders for 40 years.
Dr. Pernell-Saunders also had spent time at Locus Benedictus, the spiritual retreat center that Abraham directs. Dr. Pernell-Saunders prayed with people, planned retreats, held Bible classes and led the center’s outreach group, Special Blessings.
“Her passing is a great loss to our entire community and in particular to our Locus Benedictus team,” Abraham said, adding, “We hope that we can use her Christian model to live the gospel as she did.”
Dr. Pernell-Saunders and her husband, George Saunders, whom she married in February, attended First Baptist Church in Itta Bena.
“When she got married to George, she was so happy. He made her just so happy, like a teenager in love,” Acosta said.
Stagner said some of her fondest memories with her mother include the numerous vacations, shopping adventures, meals and holidays they shared.
“My mom had a servant’s heart,” Stagner said. “There are so many times that she did for others without recognition, in secret and sacrificing her time, money and energy.”
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