MARIETTA - Marietta resident Joan Pritchard, a longtime columnist with The Parkersburg News and Sentinel/Marietta A.M., died Sunday at her residence at the age of 87.
A graduate of Marietta High School, Pritchard earned a journalism degree at Marietta College in 1947.
She moved to Washington state in the 1940s where she raised a family before returning to Marietta in the 1970s. During her years in Marietta, she wrote a weekly newspaper column, acted as a guide on trolley tours and was involved in many organizations and activities.
For many years, Pritchard wrote a weekly column for the Sunday edition of the News and Sentinel/Marietta A.M., which ranged from discussions on current issues and politics to her personal experiences and memories to the history of Marietta and Washington County from the pioneer days up through the present.
Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said he had known Pritchard and her family for many years. She was active in the community in a variety of ways over the years and was one of the early supporters of the Armory Project on Front Street in Marietta, he said.
"I liked Joan and always enjoyed talking with her," Matthews said.
Marietta businessman Harley Noland also knew Pritchard for many years and described her death as a great loss of a wealth of local history.
"Her knowledge was immense and her character was charming," he said of Pritchard.
For the past 17 years, Noland said, Pritchard served as the narrator for the Marietta Trolley Tour, which he has operated for years. The tours take visitors on rides throughout downtown Marietta and the surrounding neighborhoods to highlight the city's long history. Pritchard's way of telling the stories was good at bringing people into them, he said.
Even into her late 80s, Pritchard was still active with the trolley tour. Noland said she was still participating in the tours up through last week when she asked him to substitute for her while she had medical tests done. Those led to the discovery of her cancer diagnosis, but she didn't let it get her down, he said.
"She always had a positive outlook," Noland said.
Cecilia Moore, of Marietta, worked with Pritchard for the last two-and-a-half years as her trolley driver. She thinks Pritchard had a positive impact on many people through her stories and the history she brought to life.
"She was a very classy lady; she knew a lot of history. I really miss her," Moore said.
Louise Zimmer, of Marietta, described Pritchard as a friend of many years who shared her interest in history. While Zimmer knew more about the pioneer days and later history, she said Pritchard had a great knowledge of local history since the turn of the 20th century, especially about events that occurred during her lifetime.
Memorial services for Pritchard will be 11 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 501 Fourth St., in Marietta. Memorial donations in her name may be made to the Marietta Historical Society, P.O. Box 103, or Marietta College, 215 Fifth St., Marietta, OH 45750.