Patricia Sue Head Summitt Obituary
June 14, 1952 – June 28, 2016
“You win in life with people.”
This is one simple statement that Patricia Sue Head Summitt embodied, lived by and passed on to so many throughout her 64 years of life. She ‘won’ every day of her life because of the relationships she developed, nurtured and cherished. Relationships with her family and friends. Relationships with players, coaches, and fans. And most importantly, a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday, June 28 2016, Pat passed away peacefully, following a courageous battle with early onset dementia, “Alzheimer’s Type.” This disease attacked a lifetime of precious memories, memories that she has now won back as she rests in her eternal home. Memories that will live on in each and every relationship she developed throughout her life.
Born to the late-Richard and Hazel Albright Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn., Pat was the fourth of five children. Her tireless work ethic was developed early in life as she handled a variety of daily chores on her family’s farm, while never missing a day of school. She worked hard to keep up with her three older brothers, who taught her the game of basketball – a game that would later become a passion and profession for her.
After graduating from Cheatham County High in Ashland City in 1970, she went on to the University of Tennessee-Martin, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1974 and leading the women’s basketball team to two national championship tournaments. Her ability to be a leader on the basketball court was evident, and shortly after graduating, she accepted a position at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville as the head coach of the women’s basketball team – as a 22-year old.
For the next 38 years, the farm girl from Henrietta, Tenn. would impact the game of women’s basketball like no one in the history of the sport. She guided the Lady Vols to eight NCAA championships, 32 combined Southeastern Conference titles and became the winningest NCAA D-1 basketball coach of all time on March 22, 2005. She was named the NCAA Coach of the Year seven times and the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000.
Pat also excelled internationally, as both a coach and player. As a player, she was a co-captain of the 1976 U.S. women’s team, earning the silver medal during the Olympic Games held in Montreal. She then went on to coach the U.S. Junior National and U.S. National teams to multiple championships and medals, culminating with a magical run as head coach of the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic team, leading them to the gold medal during the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles.
Of all the records, awards, and stats, Pat would point to one number as the most significant in her career – 161. This is the number of Lady Vols who contributed to the 1,098 wins over the span of her illustrious career. To these 161 student-athletes she was more than a coach – she was a friend, mentor and a loving mother.
Motherhood suited Pat, and on September 21, 1990, she and R.B. Summitt II had their first and only child, Ross “Tyler” Summitt. The relationship between a mother and son is a special one, and they had an unbreakable bond built on their love for God and for one another. They also shared a passion for the game of basketball, a game that would provide the two of them many unique moments and milestones, side by side.
She was most proud of one special moment they shared that outshines all the others. On May 5, 2012, Pat and Tyler were baptized together. On this day, they decided together to go public with their faith and professed their love for and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. On this day, they created the ultimate and eternal memory, together.
Pat is survived by her mother, Hazel Albright Head; son, Ross “Tyler” Summitt (AnDe); sister, Linda; brothers, Tommy (Deloris), Charles (Mitzi) and Kenneth (Debbie).
A private service and burial for family and friends will be held in Middle Tennessee. A public service to celebrate her life will take place at Thompson-Boling Arena, on the campus of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Details for the celebration of life will be shared at a later date.
Memorial gifts may be made to The Pat Summitt Foundation by visiting www.patsummitt.org/donate.
Tyler Summitt’s Statement on the passing of his mother, Pat Summitt
“It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt.
She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most.
Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced. Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.
For 64 years, my mother first built her life upon a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Her foundation was also built upon love of her family and of her players, and love of the fundamentals of hard work which reflected her philosophy that ‘you win in life with people’.
She was the fourth of five children – Tommy, Charles, Kenneth and Linda – born to Richard and Hazel Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn. Her tireless work ethic and her love of the game of basketball were created during the time she spent growing up on the family farm.
She’ll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many – she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure.
We will all miss her immensely.
A private service and burial will be held for my mother in Middle Tennessee. I ask that you respect the privacy of that time.
We are in the process of finalizing the details of a public celebration of her life which will take place in one of her favorite places, Thompson-Boling Arena. Once those details are finalized, we will share them with you.
Statement from The Pat Summitt Foundation
The leadership of The Pat Summitt Foundation released the following statement on the passing of their founder, Pat Head Summitt, University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Head Coach Emeritus.
Coach Summitt served as The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Women’s Basketball Head Coach for 38 seasons and became the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history for men’s and women’s teams with 1098 wins, eight national championships and 32 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships.
In August 2011, at the age of 59, she bravely announced her diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. She founded The Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation, in November 2011, with the mission of making a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by advancing research for a cure and providing education and caregiving services for patients and their families.
James A. Haslam II, Advisory Board Chairman of The Pat Summitt Foundation stated, “On behalf of the Board, I want to express our deep sorrow to Pat’s family on her passing. Alzheimer’s is such a horrific disease and as you know currently has no cure. Since Pat was diagnosed in 2011 she dedicated her life to this Foundation in the hope of helping find a cure. We will continue that work on her behalf and in fact will open The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic at The University of Tennessee Medical Center by the end of this year.”
“On a personal note, there are not many icons that you come in contact with in your lifetime and we all were fortunate to know one, Pat Summitt. Her work ethic, her dedication to the young women she coached, and her integrity in everything she did will never be equalled. She set the standard for excellence in academics, athletics and life. She was a role model and an inspiration and we are all enriched for having known her.”
In January 2015, The Pat Summitt Foundation announced a partnership with The University of Tennessee Medical Center to launch the establishment of The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic on their Knoxville, Tennessee campus which will more than double available care and services to patients and caregivers and advance research through clinical trials. The Foundation has committed funding to this effort with a pledge of $2.5 million over the next five years.
Pat Summitt, when she spoke of her wish for her legacy said, “I thought I would be remembered for winning basketball games, but I hope I’m remembered for making a difference in this disease.” The Pat Summitt Foundation is committed to making Pat’s mission a reality with the support of her family, friends, associates, and fans who, as donors and partners are helping create The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic at The University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Statement for Joan Cronan on Pat Summitt’s death
“Words are not adequate for my feelings at this time. Pat Summitt was the most courageous person I’ve ever known in fighting this disease. She was determined to make a difference in bringing attention to the disease and she has done that. She fought the good fight and all of us who loved her will continue that fight on her behalf through the Pat Summitt Foundation.
As you know I worked with Pat for over 30 years. People would refer to me as her boss and I always remarked, Pat Summitt has no boss. She was the ultimate leader who led by example with strength, character and integrity but also with care. She loved her family and players with a fierceness equalled only by that renowned stare of hers.
The legacy she leaves is immense. Her players, who all have college degrees, have been enriched by her teaching. They are coaches, professors, television personalities, businesswomen, all now making a difference in their world because of Pat Summitt.
There will never be another Pat Summitt. She belongs to the ages now and we are sad but so fortunate to have called her a colleague and friend.”
Statement from James A. Haslam II, Chairman of the Pat Summitt Foundation Board, on the passing of Pat Summitt
“Obviously the first thing I want to do on behalf of the Board is express our deep sorrow to Pat’s family on her passing. Alzheimer’s is such a horrific disease and as you know currently has no cure. Since Pat was diagnosed in 2011 she dedicated her life to this Foundation in the hope of helping find a cure. We will continue that work on her behalf and in fact will open the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic at the UT Medical Center by the end of this year.
On a personal note, there are not many icons that you come in contact in your lifetime and we all were fortunate to know one, Pat Summitt. Her work ethic, her dedication to the young women she coached, and her integrity in everything she did will never be equalled. She set the standard for excellence in academics, athletics and life. She was a role model and an inspiration and we are all enriched for having known her. “