January 8, 1928 – May 20, 2013
RICH, John Witt Died peacefully on May 20, 2013. He was born in Marks, Mississippi 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.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 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 care-givers including his nephew, Bruce Carter, Pam Hardison, Suzanne Payne, Dan Majors, Barbara Krispin, and Adrienne Clagett.A visitation will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church from 4:00 – 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 23rd with a memorial service at the Church on Friday, May 24th at 11:00 am.In lieu of flowers the family requests gifts be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church, Vanderbilt Athletics, the John W. Rich Fund of the Tennessee Golf Foundation, or the charity of one’s choice.
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May 31, 2013
Such a great dad! Such a wonderful friend! So generous, loving, jolly, and caring! Mr. Rich, we will miss you.
Sending love and lifting prayers,
Beth McCarley O'Shea
May 24, 2013
Please send my love to Marybelle and her family.
I grew up in the house across the street from the Rich family, and have many wonderful memories of his sweet mother and his dad who was also a great storyteller.
When I applied to teach at First Presbyterian Day School in Jackson,MS 30 years ago, I was interviewed by Mr. McCarthy,the president of the school board. Noting that I was from Marks, he asked if I knew John Whitt. He then explained that they were friends at Vanderbuilt. I explained that our family , the Roseberrys, and my grandparents, the Furrs ,were close enough friends that my soon-to-be inlaws stayed with his parents before our wedding. From Mr. McCarty's reaction, I knew that was all the information that he needed. Thanks to the Rich family, I enjoyed teaching there for 25 years until I retired.
I am praying for you all,
Margaret Roseberry Thompson
May 22, 2013
Please accept our sympathy.
Judith Schiele & Family