NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Lucille DeWitt, a longtime business owner and civic leader on Nacogdoches, died at the age of 90 on Oct. 9.
Lucille DeWitt and her late husband, Richard DeWitt Sr., started their KFC franchise with restaurants in Nacogdoches and Lufkin, and they later expanded to 68 other locations across the state of Texas.
DeWitt died at her home surrounded by family members a day after she celebrated her 90th birthday, her obituary stated.
Visitation will be held on Monday, Oct. 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Cason-Monk Metcalf's Sunset Chapel, and the funeral services will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. at Cason-Monk Metcalf's Sunset Chapel with the Rev. Steve Newton officiating, according to Lucille DeWitt's obituary.
Interment will follow in the Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery.
Lucille DeWitt sponsored Nacogdoches Crime Stoppers and donated money to be used in the restoration of Millard's Crossing, the old University Building, and other local historical buildings. With the help of her friend, Dr. Glenda Walker, she and her husband contributed to the establishment of the Richard and Lucille DeWitt School of Nursing at Stephen F. Austin State University.
After the couple sold its highly successful Texas KFC franchise, its headquarters property was donated to the SFA School of Nursing.
"I decided it was time to do what I could, and we were all put here to help in whatever means we can," Lucille DeWitt said in 2007.
She saw the project grow and flourish from its groundbreaking in 2009 to watching SFA students and her employees take part in a simulated emergency drill.
In 2007, Dr. Glenda Walker, the then-director of SFA's School of Nursing, said that Lucille DeWitt "has been the angel that started everything."
Katy Trotty, a clinical instructor at SFA, said that she remembers Lucille Dewitt with gratitude.
"I actually got a scholarship in nursing thanks to Mrs. DeWitt to work at Memorial Hospital, and so she paid for my nursing school, essentially," Trotty said.
Over the years, Lucille DeWitt helped many other SFA nursing students.
Each semester, an average of 80 students graduate from SFA's School of Nursing. Lucille DeWitt acknowledged their hard work by designing a lounge specifically for students, and the school's faculty teaches students to appreciate Lucille DeWitt's legacy.
"We'll be standing in an honor guard near the graveside tomorrow," said Dr. Sarah Bishop, the director of SFA's School of Nursing. "They won't be at the ceremony or at the funeral because there are over 200 of them, but we are going to have them out there just so the family can know that we're supporting them."
Lucille DeWitt was born in Killingly, Connecticut on Oct. 8, 1925. As a young girl, she lived in Charlotte, Michigan with the Colizzi family, where she cared for their children and worked as a soda jerk in their candy store, Liberty Sweets.
"After high school, she moved to new York to take up a career in acting and modeling," the obituary stated. "She also worked as a secretary in the Empire State Building."
Four years after Lucille DeWitt married Richard DeWitt Sr. in 1948, they moved to Waxahachie, where the DeWitt brothers started the DeWitt Turkey Hatchery. They moved to Nacogdoches in 1957, and they started their KFC chain in 1964.
"Lucy believed in hard work, and her work ethic continued into her late 80s," the obituary stated.
According to her obituary, Lucille DeWitt was instrumental in founding the Nacogdoches County Republican Women, and she served as the organization's president in 1990. In addition, Lucille DeWitt was a founding member of the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Pink Ladies in 1970.
"She volunteered at the Treatment Center and served as board president from 1994-1996, served on the board of the Samaritan Center, and was a Charter Life Member of the Nacogdoches Expo Center," the obituary stated. "Lucy was a leader in her children's Scout troops, she was a volunteer with the church, the Youth Center, and several school PTA boards."
"For all her time and dedication to the community, she was inducted into the Stephen F. Austin Society in 2006," the obituary stated. "She was selected Woman of the Year by the American Association of University Women in 2008. She received the Citizens' Statesmen's Award from the Nacogdoches Republican Party in 2010."
To read Lucille Dewitt's full obituary, visit this link.