On July 18, 2019, Belmont Abbey College said goodbye to a precious, dear member of our family. Rita Lewis, “The Face of Belmont Abbey College,” began her career at the College in August 1980, in the Alumni and Public Relations Office. Within a few months, President John Dempsey asked her to serve as his executive assistant – a role she has held for 39 years.
Widely recognized by generations of alumni and donors, Rita displayed traditional southern hospitality and warmth that have become legendary within the Abbey community. During her nearly four decades at the College, she served thirteen presidents, three abbots, and provided tireless assistance to thousands of individuals – students, staff, faculty, monks, and friends – who have repeatedly relied on her knowledge, efficiency and kindness. In addition, Rita has supported the Board of Trustees for the College since her tenure in the Office of the President began, amassing an unmatched understanding of Board procedures and history. She is a two-time recipient of the Administrative Staff Award, an honor bestowed on her by her peers. At the 2019 Commencement Rita received an honorary doctorate degree from the College in commemoration of her unwavering service.
Rooted in her faith, Rita consistently reflected the mission of Belmont Abbey College in her humility, manners, extraordinary work ethic and desire to serve. She frequently commented on her affection and appreciation for the Monastic Community, which has “always been there” for her. In turn, her constant commitment to Belmont Abbey and all that it stands for made her a special part of the heart and soul of the entire community.
The Abbey community mourns the loss of one so selfless and dedicated to our college. “Rita’s devoted service to Belmont Abbey College spans four decades. She was the welcomed countless guests and visitors with gracious Southern hospitality. Her faith and her courage in her battle with her illness was an inspiration to us all. May she be numbered among the saints and may we all be togethe