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John Witt RICH



RICH, John WittDied peacefully on May 20, 2013. He was born in Marks, MS on January 8, 1928. He was the son of Lucile Roberts and John C. Rich. He is survived by his wife of sixty-one years, Norma Tate Rich; his daughter, Amy Lucile Rich and her husband, Edmond J. Schmidt III; his two sons, David Tate Rich and his wife Nora, and John William Rich and his wife Karen, all of Nashville, TN, and ten grandchildren, John R. Rich (Jessica), D. Tate Rich, Jr. (Mariel), E. Grace French (Brad), E. Lucile Rich, Thomas E. Tompkins (Caroline), Kathryn T. Dick (Hagan), C. Rich Tompkins, W. Miller Rich, Martha N. Rich and Jackson P. Rich, and four great-grandchildren, Helen E. Rich, Lucile Grace Rich, Diane K. French and T.E. (Tripp) Tompkins. He is also survived by his sister, Mary Belle Carter (Bob) of Marks, MS; niece, Becky Jones (Mike) of Sardis, MS and nephew, Bruce Carter (Nancy) of Franklin, TN. Mr. Rich graduated from Marks High School in 1944. He attended Vanderbilt University on a football scholarship after a recruitment, which he always said was highly fortuitous. Vanderbilt was reactivating its football program under war-time interim coach Dobie Bartling, who had spent much of his career in Mississippi. He offered Mr. Rich a scholarship on the recommendation of his high school football coach, Mr. J.B. Lesley. Vanderbilt welcomed its first post-war scholarship class in 1945. Mr. Rich started the first Vanderbilt game he ever saw as a blocking back in its single wing offense and as a cornerback on defense. By spring 1946, many of the veterans had returned from the war and legendary coach Red Sanders was back at the helm. Mr. Rich found himself a 5th or 6th string defensive end with a football career and grades that did not really look too promising. He enlisted in the Army in 1946 and served in Japan during the occupation through discharge in January, 1948. Mr. Rich returned to Vanderbilt and after an unsuccessful spring stint on the football team, tried out the following year for the baseball team, where he played for three years. Additionally, at Vanderbilt, Mr. Rich was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Following his graduation from Vanderbilt, Mr. Rich worked brief stints for SunLife of Canada, Brown & Bigelow, and as Manager of the Marshall County Recreation Center. Through his friends, Joe and Roscoe Davis, Mr. Rich obtained an interview with Jett Potter and was offered a job with the Nashville Coal Company. He spent the rest of his career in the coal business and started Delta Coals, Inc. in 1969 with related mining ventures in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Colorado, and as a sales agency for coal producing companies in Virginia and Kentucky. Mr. Rich loved his family and friends from the Mississippi Delta and shared many stories growing up as the son of a cotton farmer. He was grateful throughout his life for the opportunity to attend Vanderbilt University and was honored to serve later as a Trustee on the Vanderbilt Board of Trust. He enjoyed the friendships of numerous Vanderbilt coaches, administration and athletic department officials over the years, and particularly appreciated the efforts and successes of Vanderbilt athletes on the playing field and in academics. With his business success, Mr. Rich was able to give generously to numerous entities, including Westminster Presbyterian Church, the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Vanderbilt athletics, and the Vanderbilt Blair School of Music. He established the Rich Foundation in 1994, which has since contributed to numerous other institutions and charities in the Nashville area. Outside of family and friends, Mr. Rich enjoyed golf and fishing. He was a member of Belle Meade Country Club and a founding member of the Golf Club of Tennessee. He participated actively in the land acquisition and founding of the Tennessee Golf House. He also enjoyed his many friendships in the Chefs Club. The family will remember their father and grandfather for his love and support, for his insistence with our Mother on family fellowship, and for his many colorful stories (some of which are true) of a long life well-lived. We would particularly like to thank his nurses and caregivers including his nephew, Bruce Carter, Pam Hardison, Suzanne Payne, Dan Majors, Barbara Krispin, Vicki Claycombe, Adrienne Clagett, Maria Gonzalez and Gabriela Gonzalez. A visitation will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church from 4 - 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23rd, with a Memorial service at the Church on Friday, May 24th at 11 a.m.

Published in The Tennessean on May 24, 2013
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