Education advocate, artist Pamela Sexton dies

jpatton1@herald-leader.comJune 13, 2014 

Pam Sexton, widow of Robert F. Sexton, spoke about how he had always said when you speak you carry people on your shoulder - and she was illustrating that she is carrying him on hers during the celebration of life in his honor in Haggin Auditorium at Transylvania University on Saturday October 16, 2010. Photo by Jason Sankovitch

JASON SANKOVITCH — Jason Sankovitch

Artist, writer and education advocate Pamela Sexton died Thursday afternoon at her home in Lexington. She was 68.

Mrs. Sexton was the widow of Robert Sexton, the founding director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an advocacy group established in 1983 to improve education in Kentucky; he led the group until his death in 2010.

Mrs. Sexton was a writer and a longtime school reform advocate in her own right, and she remained active with the Prichard Committee.

"She's served as a great resource for me personally and as adviser, and has stayed active in supporting the work of the committee," said Stu Silberman, chairman of the Prichard Committee and former superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools. "She's a person who for many, many years dedicated her life to doing what was best for kids in Kentucky and beyond."

Former Lexington Mayor Pam Miller said Mrs. Sexton became interested in improving education because she was not satisfied with the schooling her own children received in Fayette County.

"She was a partner with Bob Sexton, all the way, in fiercely advocating for better schools," Miller said Friday.

A native of Wyoming, Mrs. Sexton was also a poet and artist. Miller said that the Sextons and the late historian Thomas D. Clark would often explore Eastern Kentucky searching for folk artists and craftsmen, whose work they collected.

This interest led her to serve as vice chairwoman of the board of the Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University.

Mrs. Sexton also was active in local arts organizations, including the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, where she was a former board chairwoman. She also was on the boards of the Lexington Children's Theatre; the Lexington Arts & Cultural Council, now known as LexArts; and the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.

She is survived by her children, Perry Papka of Frankfort, Paige Walker of Lexington, Ouita Michel of Midway, Rebecka Sexton of Roanoke, Va., and Robert Sexton of San Francisco; and four grandchildren

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Midway Christian Church. Visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Milward Funeral Directors on Broadway.

Memorial donations are requested to the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, 271 West Short Street, Suite 202, Lexington, Ky. 40507; or the Carnegie Center for Learning and Literacy, 251 West Second Street, Lexington, Ky. 40507.

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