Asbury Marks Passing of Mentor, Coach to Many

WILMORE, Ky. — Asbury University invited community members and family to join in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Rita Pritchett ‘69, long-time coach, mentor and friend, who passed away Aug. 26. Visitation was held in Hughes Auditorium on August 29 from 6-8 p.m., and a memorial service took place (also in Hughes) on August 30 at 10:30 a.m.

Dr. Rita Pritchett '69
Dr. Rita Pritchett '69

Pritchett’s career at Asbury spanned 40 years, including 27 years coaching volleyball, softball, women’s tennis and women’s track and field. She was named athletic director in 1989 — the first ever female athletic director in Kentucky — and served in that role for 10 years. In 2004, Pritchett was one of seven Asburians inducted into the inaugural class of the athletics program’s Asbury Hall of Fame.

Pritchett’s legacy is not limited to athletics, however. A committed teacher who held a master’s degree in Physical Education, an Educational Specialist certificate and doctoral degree in Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation in Higher Education, she earned a reputation for high standards in the classroom as well. At a retirement reception for Pritchett in 2011, former students reunited to pay tribute to her influence and legacy.

“I managed to get a doctorate in Physical Education,” said Dr. George Barber ’86 at the reception, “but I got a D in volleyball with Coach Pritchett. I just tell people — you don’t understand the kind of volleyball class this was.”

Pritchett passed away after a three-year battle with brain cancer, a struggle she approached with the same determination and persistent good humor she applied to each challenge, on or off the field of competition.

“Rita could turn both wins and losses into something meaningful,” said Dr. Sandra Gray, president of Asbury University. “She was a pillar of strength, and at the same time, she recognized that her strength was in the Lord. We will greatly miss her even as we watch her legacy continue and grow.”

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