Dr Rita Carolyn Huneycutt
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Dr Rita Carolyn Huneycutt

November 26, 1947

March 14, 2015

Rita Huneycutt, 67, passed away on March 14 after a sudden and unexpected illness. Her family and friends are shocked and devastated by the loss of this beautiful, vibrant woman.

Rita was born to Adam and Goldia Osborne in Paintsville, Kentucky. She was the oldest of six children. The family lived in a remote area of Kentucky on a two acre farm until Rita was 16 years old. She attended a one room, all grades elementary school, and attended middle school in Jefferson, Kentucky. Rita's father was a well known minister and Rita played piano as a child for the church. The family later moved to Arizona, where Rita graduated high school in 1966.

Rita began college at the University of Arizona and moved to Reno in August 1970, where she continued her undergraduate degree and received a Bachelor of Science from UNR in 1972. She received her Master of Education from UNR in 1976, and later a Doctor of Education from the University of San Francisco in 1991.

Rita taught high school at Reed and Reno High Schools from 1972-1980. She first joined Truckee Meadows Community College as a part time business instructor in 1972. She was hired as a faculty member in the TMCC Division of Business in 1980 and by 1985 was Assistant to the President. She received her Doctor of Education while working full time at TMCC, traveling to the University of San Francisco on weekends to take classes. After serving many roles in the college, she retired as a Senior Vice President in 2002. During her distinguished career she served twice as interim President in 1997 and 2002. She was always willing to serve the college and the community by taking on intense roles and insisted on keeping the interests of the students as her first priority.

In addition, Rita was the guiding force behind the rental and remodel of the top floor of Old Town Mall in 1994-1995 as well as two buildings on Meadowood Mall Circle two years later. These buildings were used for classroom and office space and allowed for the expansion of TMCC's operations off campus.

Rita was a cheerleader for other women and their successes when local women were just breaking into leadership roles. She demonstrated that leadership in higher education could be different by becoming the region's first female community college president. She encouraged all who worked around her to advance the cause of education for all.

Dr Huneycutt was a strong supporter of the TMCC Foundation and was a donor for over twenty years. She generously supported the Dr Harry Huneycutt Allied Health Scholarship after the passing of her late husband.

Rita furthered her belief in the importance of education through her volunteer involvement in many organizations including Nevada Women's Fund, Soroptimist International of Truckee Meadows, Education Collaborative of Washoe County, Reno/Sparks Chamber of Commerce, American Heart Association, as well as many others. She was recognized as TMCC's first Woman of Achievement with the NWF and later went on to become a board member. She was always a strong advocate for education and enjoyed participating in organizations that provided mentoring and scholarships to young women in particular.

She and her late husband were very active and supportive of UNR Athletics and were an important part of the Wolf Pack family. They would frequently accompany the teams to away games, NCAA tournaments, and Bowl games. Rita supported the academic achievements of the athletes and she and Harry gave the lead gift for the Peterson Academic Center. She initiated the Rita and Harry Huneycutt Academic Excellence Awards Brunch that honored over 250 athletes and donors. Rita and Harry were honored with the Jake Lawlor Award, the highest honor awarded by the UNR Athletic Department. Her generosity and support of the program were unprecedented.

The single most important part of Rita's life was family. She was a loving, devoted mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, and aunt. Rita and her first husband, Dr Alan Gubanich, had one daughter. Later on, when she married the late Dr Harry Huneycutt, she took on the role of matriarch to a large extended family with sincere love and devotion. Family was never far from her mind or heart. She absolutely adored her grandchildren and spent as much time with them as she was able. She was incredibly proud of her family and loved them deeply. Rita is survived by her daughter, Dr. Kimberly Luikart (Bill), her stepchildren: David Huneycutt (Anella), Sherry Huebner, Alyson Huneycutt, and Carrie Anne Huneycutt; her grandchildren: Rita and Jackson Luikart; her stepgrandchildren: Dr. Marissa Huebner (Zao Naegele), Erika Huebner, Lauren Huneycutt, Jake Huneycutt; her brothers: Ron Osborne (Betty), Adam Osborne (Karen), Josh Osborne (Teahna), and sister Rebecca Osborne. Rita's husband, Dr Harry Huneycutt, passed away in 2013.

Rita was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. She was kind, generous, loyal, and a strong role model. She will be dearly missed by the community, her friends and colleagues, and most especially by her loving family.

The family would like to thank the staff at Renown Hospital for being so caring and respectful to Rita, and for the compassion shown to her loved ones during such a difficult time.

The memorial service will be held Saturday March 28, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 6695 Mae Anne Avenue, Reno, NV, at 11:00am. All are welcome at this celebration of her life.

A scholarship is being formed through Nevada Women's Fund in Rita's name, with the recipient to be a TMCC student. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to NWF, 770 Smithridge Drive, Suite 300; Reno, NV 89502.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in the Reno Journal-Gazette and Mason Valley News on Mar. 22, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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16 entries
April 6, 2015
There are no words to express how broken hearted we are to hear about Rita. My father (Ira) & Adam Osborne were brothers. I was born six months after Rita in Paintsville, Ky. & was given the name Nita Turecuia Osborne. The last time I had the privilege of seeing Rita was in 1967 when we visit them in Ariz. Rita took me for a ride in her VW Beetle. :-) I've always cherished that time we had together...Rita was very special! I know Rita would have loved her family so very deeply. I called mom (Doris) & my sister (Tawana) & read them the Obituary. We are proud of Rita's achievements...what a blessing from God. I always felt looking at Tawana was like seeing Rita...they looked so much alike. One day we will see Rita again & our loved ones that have gone "Home" before us. We send our deepest sympathy ...love & prayers during this difficult time. Nita, Doris, Tawana, Ira Osborne, Jr. & Our Families
Nita Wombles
March 29, 2015
The skies are a little dimmer after losing one of its brightest stars! I first met Rita as a student employee at TMCC in 1987, as the office I worked for was located in the Executive Office Suite. She was elated when I was hired on as a Classified employee, and within the administrative side of the college, which was her area. Later, when I got engaged, she said I couldn't marry him until she had approved of both the ring and my fiance. She wholeheartedly approved, of course. She was overjoyed at the birth of my son, and cried with me a couple of years later when I lost my Mother and had a miscarriage in quick succession. She had a way of making us feel like we were family, not just employees. She knew how to inspire, to lead by example, to be firm when she had to be, and was much smarter than some people gave her credit for. I still miss you, Rita, and will always be grateful for the wonderful person you were to me!
Peggy Hannah
March 28, 2015
I've worked at TMCC for more than 18 years. Rita, above all other administrators during my tenure at TMCC, made staff feel valued and that our contributions made a difference at the college. She continues to inspire me and I'm fortunate that I had the experience of working with her.
Kathy Berry
March 28, 2015
My deepest condolences to the family. I first met Rita in 1993 when I took a job with TMCC's public information office. I have so many fond memories of our years together at TMCC. She is the sole reason that I remained employed there for 17 years, I quit twice and in both instances she called me at home and asked me to return. Though I was just a classified employee (one of hundreds) Rita always remembered me and asked about my children, she knew all four of their names. She was the first to congratulate my husband and I when we got engaged and even attended our wedding. She was an amazing advocate for women in management and always found time to have a chat in the hallway. She was truly an amazing woman. The world is a little less joyful without her.
Tracy Mentzer
March 27, 2015
My condolences to Rita's family. I first met Rita in 1996 when she married Dr Huneycutt. From the moment I met her, I connected with her. She was a lovely, intelligent, caring, beautiful, and classy lady. Dr Huneycutt's death was very hard on Rita and now with her sudden death we are left mourning two of the most beloved couples. Rita lives behind a great legacy thru all her professional accomplishment and her family. She made great accomplishments for women with her work at TMCC and NWF. My heart breaks for her untimely passing but I'm greatful that she is not suffering any more. Rest in peace Rita.
Rafaela Hernandez
March 24, 2015
My condolence to loved ones of Rita. I only met her once when she visited Pastor Ron and Betty in Weiser. She was a lovely lady.
Paulette Drake (Weiser, Idaho)
March 23, 2015
Rita was a very classy Lady. We first met when she joined the University and I steadily watched her rise through the ranks to be the President of TMCC. She was instrumental force in acquiring the IGT building across from Meadow Wood Mall. The facility should be named after her. She was a delight to work with and a special friend. You will be missed. Rest well Lady Rita.
Jim Jeffers, Jr.
March 23, 2015
I remember playing with rita as a child and feel very blessed to have know her. wish we could have been closer in later years but I still have the beautiful memories. god bless this family.
March 22, 2015
My husband and I are friends of Ron and Betty Osborne, one of Rita's brothers. He absolutely loved his sister. That says a lot about family. Our church prayed for Rita while she was in the hospital. We send our prayers of comfort to the rest of the family. What a legacy she has left for you! May the Circle Be Unbroken Lord!
Kay Maestas
March 22, 2015
Aunt Rita, though I don't remember our interactions when I was a child, I can feel your love through my father (Adam Jr.). Though I am saddened by your departure from this world, I am happy that you are no longer in pain. Take care and God Speed through the heavens.
Michael Osborne
March 22, 2015
My mother Hazel was Rita's dad's sister. My wife (Pat) wish to say how sorry we are to hear about Rita's passing but we know that her eternal home is far better than here, MAY GOD BLESS THE ENTIRE FAMILY. ROLLA AND PAT
Rolla Blair
March 22, 2015
I met Rita when I first worked at TMCC in the early eighties. She is what every administrator should strive for, caring for all and lead by example. I will miss her smile.
March 22, 2015
Rita was a woman who was bright, compassionate, filled with grace, and beautiful but most of all she was a wonderful friend, mother, grandmother and step parent. All of us who knew her benefitted from that relationship. She was among the most giving women I knew.
Marsha Lindeken
March 22, 2015
Rest in peace dear sweet Rita. Thank you for all the life you shared so freely and all the good you gave so selflessly. Job well done, Godspeed dear one!
Josh & Teahna Osborne
March 22, 2015
Rita was one of the most beautiful people on God's earth. To be related to her was an honor and a gift. God, bless this wonderful family and keep them in Your loving arms.
I love you Rita and will never forget the great times and talks we have shared. RIP MY BEAUTIFUL COUSIN.
Richard Blair
March 21, 2015
Rita was a classy and dynamic presence. Her contribution to TMCC unparalleled. She will be deeply missed by all who benefited from her wisdom and generosity.
Patricia Miltenberger
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