Rita Joyce Pritchett was born Feb. 17, 1947, to Harold and Orvaleen Pritchett of Iuka. She passed away Aug. 26, 2012, at her home in Wilmore, Ky., after a three-year battle with brain cancer. She was preceded in death by her parents.
Rita attended grade school and high school in Byers, graduating with the class of 1965. She excelled in the limited athletic program that was available at the time and also in athletics.
She graduated from Asbury College in 1969, and after obtaining a master's degree in physical education from Eastern Kentucky University, she started her teaching career at Asbury College in 1971. In 2007 she finished a PhD in educational policy studies and evaluation in higher education.
Dr. Pritchett spent 40 years teaching and helping Asbury College grow and develop from club sports and NAIA affiliation to university status and NCAA Division III. She established and coached women's volleyball, softball, tennis and track and field during her 27-year coaching career at Asbury. She was named Coach of the Year at some time during her career in every sport she coached. She was the first-ever woman athletic director at the college or university level in Kentucky and served in that capacity for 10 years.
Academically, Dr. Pritchett developed or assisted in developing courses in measurement and evaluation, coaching, sports skills, psychology and sociology of sport and physical education, fitness walking, theory of physical activity, history of sport, sport management and health education courses in the HPERA Department.
She was a catalyst in initiating Asbury College's first women's intercollegiate basketball program and directed the re-establishment of the men's program. She also directed the establishment of the Sports Information Department and initiated the Asbury College Athletic Handbook. In 2004, Dr. Prichett was one of seven people inducted into the inaugural class of the Asbury Hall of Fame. An annual Rita Pritchett Award for Academic Excellence is given to a senior scholar athlete in addition to an Asbury collegiate basketball tournament named in her honor.
Dr. Pritchett spent her entire adult life teaching, mentoring and being a positive influence in the lives of her students. She was called to lead her students to live a Christ-filled life and she modeled that life for them daily. She was also a leader in Title IX issues during her career.
She is survived by her stepfather, Bill Post, Arkansas City; three brothers, Larry and wife Marlene, Grant, Neb., Craig and wife Peggy, Hewitt, Texas, and Monte and wife Benja, Gatesville, Texas; one God-given sister, Becky Wood, Wilmore, Ky., and numerous nephews and nieces.
A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday at Asbury University. Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at Iuka Cemetery. Ayres-Calbeck Mortuary is in charge of local arrangements.
Memorials may be made to Asbury University Athletic Department, Asbury University Department of Physical Education, or a charity of the donor's choice.