Mayor pro-tem Eldred Pritchett passes away at 81
Published 7:02 am Monday, December 15, 2008
By By MaryClaire Foster
Eldred Pritchett always said it was important to find some good in everybody, even if you had to look a little harder to find it in some.
To all those who knew Pritchett, the own good he held at his core did not take a second look to find.
Pritchett, 81, was diagnosed with lung cancer in June and died early last Wednesday morning after complications arising from Pneumonia.
Before his death, Pritchett was serving as the District 2 city councilman for Atmore, one of his many acts of civil service in his lifetime.
Pritchett first moved to Atmore in 1950 to take a job teaching seventh grade social studies at Escambia County Training School, beginning his more than 50 years working in the public school system in Escambia County.
To Pritchett, education was more than a responsibility, but an achievement and a passion.
Pritchett came from a family of 15 children. He worked on the family farm until he left for Alabama A&M University at age 18, where he received his degree in social studies, while also learning the trade of printing. He went on to receive his masters in education from Troy University at the age of 47. He used his degrees to teach at Escambia County Training School and Escambia County junior and high schools, where he also served in administrative positions.
His passion for education went beyond the act of educating to having a genuine concern for the well-being of the students he taught.
He went so far to connect with students, that in his first year of teaching he attended every church his students were members of.
His long stint in education also gained him the nickname “Fessor,” as in professor, which he eventually became when he worked part-time at Jefferson Davis Community College.
His youngest daughter, Anita Greene, remembers her father’s work ethic and his reminders that anything could be achieved with hard work.
In an interview for a memorial book for Escambia County Training School, Pritchett said, “My most gratifying experience as a teacher was of being accepted by the community of Atmore,” he said.
In 1974, Pritchett began his first stint as a city councilman replacing another one who was leaving, then in 1976 was elected to the same position, becoming the first black citizen to be elected into public office in Atmore and continued to served until 1992. He was elected again this year.
Atmore Mayor Howard Shell worked closely with Pritchett on the council.
Marcelette Harris was a friend and former co-worker of Pritchett’s and remembers him fondly.
Pritchett’s daughters also remember the giving nature of their father, particularly during Christmas.
Greene said this act of giving became a tradition of sorts and was one of the many ways her father instilled in she and her sister a sense of giving.
Pritchett even turned his love of gardening into an act of giving, sharing food he grew with the community.
Gardening was one of the several ways Pritchett kept busy after his retirement.
Besides serving as a city-councilman and cultivating his garden, Pritchett was an active member of his church, Second Mt. Triumph Baptist Church, working as a church clerk and deacon and helping to form the male choir.
Lou Vickery worked with Pritchett on the Hall of Fame Committee and summed up the sentiments many who were close to Pritchett felt, “He was a blessing to us and left a legacy.”
He leaves to cherish his memory a loving and devoted wife of 56 years, Irma Beck.
Family visitation will be from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008 at Second Mt. Triumph Baptist Church. His funeral will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at Greater Mt. Triumph Missionary Baptist Church, beginning with the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. ceremony at 11:30 a.m. and services to follow at noon.