Remembering an industry and community pillar

Jason Cannon

September 10, 2013

It’s not healthy to sit around and think about death, but have you ever wondered how you will be remembered?

Would your funeral be a sorrowful occasion or a tribute to the things you’ve accomplished and the lives you’ve touched?

When Marvin Pritchett, 80, was murdered last month, upwards of 500 employees and community members flocked to First Christian Church for his funeral. The crowd was so large, a television and chairs were set up outside to accommodate those who couldn’t come inside for the services

Pritchett was the founder of Nextran Truck Center, a network of 14 truck dealerships in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and Pritchett Trucking Inc.

Authorities say he was murdered by a former employee at his farm in Florida. The suspect then shot three other former coworkers before killing himself.

The story of Pritchett’s death played out on every major news outlet in Florida. The story of his life played out in a much less public setting.

Pritchett was a steadfast supporter of his local schools, served on the Union County School Board and as a board member for Florida Gateway College in Lake City, Fla.

He helped with housing for his employees.

Pritchett was one of the founders of CNB National Bank of Lake City and a member of the board of directors of Mercantile Bank. He served as chairman of the Union County Commission and was past president of the Florida Forestry Association. He also served on the Bradford-Union County Cattlemen’s Association and was on the executive committee of the Florida Trucking Association.

As the community said goodbye to Pritchett Aug. 30, that night marked the beginning of a new football season for the Union County High School Tigers – the school where Pritchett once roamed the halls and starred on its football field in the early and mid-1950s.

In tribute, at the school’s home football opener – the same school that elected him to its Hall of Fame – he and the other victims were honored during a moment of silence while a Pritchett Trucking tractor circled the field.

There’s little doubt that the communities where Marvin Pritchett lived and did business are better because of their relationships with him.

The lessons we can learn from Marvin Pritchett don’t come out of the conference room. They come from how he lived, not how he worked.

We should all hope to be remembered so fondly when our time comes, and – most importantly – we should all strive to be such a positive influence on those we come in contact with, that 500 people consider saying a final goodbye something they cannot miss.

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