Dr. Janice Burdette Blythe was born on November 3, 1950 in Lancaster, Garrard County. She grew up on the family farm and is the daughter of the late James H. and Anna Margaret Burdette. She was baptized at the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Boones Creek when she was 8 years old. She was presently a member of the First Baptist Church at Richmond.
Janice completed her undergraduate degree in Administrative Dietetics, with a minor in Business Administration, from Eastern Kentucky University. She completed the one-year Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at the V.A. Medical Center and the Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky and remained at UK to complete the Masters of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition in the College of Health Sciences.
Janice worked for several years at Good Samaritan and St. Joseph Hospitals as a clinical dietitian; and at the Lexington Clinic as a diabetes specialist. She began her teaching career at EKU and taught for 10 years in the associate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs of Human Nutrition, Dietetics, and Community Nutrition. Between 1980 and 1987 she also completed the Ph.D. in Animal Science with an emphasis in Nutrition from the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the University of Kentucky.
In June 1981, she married Robert R. Blythe. When their marriage ended in 1984, they remained good friends until her death.
In 1986, Janice accepted a position in the Department of Child and Family Studies at Berea College. During her career, she served as Department Chair; Director for the Human Nutrition and Dietetics Program; and as Associate Provost for Advising and Academic Success. She held the rank of Full Professor, was an endowed chair, and served as an academic division chair over four departments. She supervised the Child Development Laboratory, which serves over 100 children and their parents.
Janice was passionate about serving. For more than twenty years, she served as musician for the Mt. Pleasant District Laymen’s Choir. She also served as musician for South Maple Street Baptist Church in Somerset. She regularly taught Vacation Bible School and was a church musician at First Baptist; served as an officer for both the Brassfield Homemakers Club and the Richmond-Madison County Branch of the NAACP; and served on the Berea Human Rights Commission. She was appointed by Governor Steve Beshear to serve as a Board member with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, headquartered in Louisville.
As part of her teaching, service, and research, she traveled and worked in several countries, including China, Japan, Canada, and the Caribbean. In 2011, she was a member of a mission team who served in a rural community in Haiti. She traveled throughout forty-one of our fifty states; worked throughout rural communities of Appalachia in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia; and studied on the campuses of University of Cincinnati, Florida International University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, College of William and Mary in Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, University of Charleston, University of Denver, University of Minnesota, Washington and Lee University, and Virginia Military Academy in Lexington, Virginia. She was conducting research on African American Families in Garrard County between the mid-1800s through 1964.
Included among her honors and recognitions, she was a graduate of Leadership Madison County (1988); was recognized by EKU as an Outstanding Alumna in the College of Applied Arts and Technology (1990); received the Paul Hager Award for Excellence in Academic Advising (2004); was inducted into the College of Health Sciences Hall of Fame, University of Kentucky (October 2007); received the HERS Award for Women in Leadership in Higher Education (2008); and received the Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching at Berea College (May 2009). She served on the boards of several community-based non-profits related to healthcare and health promotion, human services, and historic preservation. Within Madison County she was recognized along with several others in a special publication by the Richmond Register that featured “The Women Leaders of Madison County” (March 2010). She is the recipient of the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award (University of Kentucky Alumni Association Lyman T. Johnson Constituency Group, November 2013) and the “Teacher Who Made a Difference Award”, College of Education (University of Kentucky, April 2014). In January of 2014 she was given the “Spirit of the Ivy Award for the Outstanding Educator, an award commemorating Mrs. Coretta Scott King,” by the Beta Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Inc., Lexington, KY. In Fall 2017, she was honored as a benefactor in Berea College Magazine.
Janice enjoyed reading, writing, gardening, cooking, photography, playing piano, and seeing the country by Amtrak train. She was on a quest to travel to all 50 states.
Janice was preceded in death by her parents; grandparents James D. and Odessa Burdette and Daniel and Hester Overstreet; uncles James Overstreet and Daniel Overstreet Jr.; and aunt Willa Mae (Gaines) Ball.
She is survived by uncle Burnace (Nettie) Overstreet; aunts Marian (William) Tucker, Frances (Robert) Wright, Saundra (Dean) Scott, Wilma Jean (Kenneth) Clay; a cousin, Glenn (Barbara) Ball on her father’s side of the family; numerous cousins on her mother’s side of the family; special friend and pastor Robert R. Blythe; and a host of friends, colleagues and students.
Funeral services will be 11:00 am Thursday, March 14th, at First Baptist Church Richmond, KY on Francis street, with Rev. Dr. Robert R. Blythe eulogizing. Visitation will be 4-9 pm Wednesday at Davis & Powell Funeral Home and again Thursday from 9:00 am until service time at the church. Burial will be 12:00 noon Friday at Duncan Town Cemetery in Lancaster, KY.