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.
Published in the Reno Journal-Gazette and Mason Valley News on Mar. 22, 2015.