Artisha Rainey, 18, died in a car accident Friday night but her spirit continues to live in the hearts of the many people who loved her.
A senior at Pine Bluff High School, Artisha was making plans for the prom and looking forward to attending Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Known on campus as “Camera Girl” by some and “Tisha babe” by others, she played basketball, was a photographer for the yearbook, a gifted artist and enjoyed playing the piano and singing.
But most of all, she is remembered for her genuine love for people and enthusiasm for life.
Her parents, Emil and Monica Pritchett, said they could not be more proud of Artisha.
“There was never a dull moment in the house,” Emil Pritchett said. “She made sure everybody in the house was happy. She was a very loving child, outgoing and everything about her was positive.”
“I bragged on her every day at work,” he said. “She just had a special gift.”
“She didn’t have a mean bone in her body,” said Artisha’s mother, Monica Pritchett. “She was just an angel; never gave me any problems. I called her my Princess May-May. Whenever she would leave the house she would say, ‘Have a great day Momma, I’m gonna make you proud.’ ”
Monica Pritchett said Artisha, known for her compassion, more than fulfilled that promise everyday. One of many proud moments came Sunday as Artisha was honored at a local church for winning first place in a recent art contest in conjunction with National Crime Victims Rights Week.
“She had been so excited about getting this award,” Monica Pritchett said, “but I was there to accept it for her.”
Monica Pritchett said she was overwhelmed by the support shown by Artisha’s classmates.
“It was so nice to see how many of them showed up.”
“It just goes to show you how much of an impact this baby made on others,” said art teacher Virginia Hymes. “It was a rainy day and the whole church was packed with her friends. That speaks volumes about this beautiful girl.”
Hymes, speaking in affectionate tones, described Artisha as sweet, kind, honorable, selfless and someone who thought before she spoke
“She could be opinionated,” Hymes smiled, “but it was always with respect.”
Pointing at a picture laid on a table, Hymes said, “This is the last picture she worked on.”
Hymes said Artisha was adamant about finishing the art before she left school on Friday.
“It was going to be entered in a prom logo contest. But her classmates have decided to honor her by using her design. It will go on everything: napkins, flyers … anything to do with the prom.”
Hymes said after the church event on Sunday, the students designed special banners, made videos and sang songs in Artisha’s honor. The finished banners were placed in the cafeteria along with the chair where Artisha used to sit at lunch. The chair was fully decorated in red and white ribbons in her honor. A handmade cross was placed on campus as a symbol of the students’ and faculty’s admiration.
“She was the one to go to when I needed anything done quick, fast and in a hurry,” said English and communications teacher Patricia Donald.
Donald said Artisha would lend a helping hand to anyone.
“But she didn’t talk much, she didn’t boast or want to take credit,” Donald said. “Her actions spoke louder than words.”
Donald, who worked with Artisha on the yearbook, said she was especially impressed with Artisha’s diligence.
“I could be at home, not thinking about work, and she would text me to make sure a project was covered. She was always thinking ahead. I don’t know if people really knew how productive she was.”
“She was a big personality,” said Loy Moore, Artisha’s basketball coach for three years. “She was a very happy person with a huge circle of friends.”
Ajia Richardson and Artisha had been friends since fourth grade.
“She was goofy, funny, upbeat and had a smile that brightens up the room,” Richardson said. “She loved taking pictures and enjoyed every aspect of life. She always did things for others, and that is what I learned from her … to do things for others.”
“God puts everything on Earth for a reason,” said another close friend, Endya Allen. “God put her here so that everyone who met her would have someone to cherish forever.”
Allen said Artisha was the funniest when she did her Kevin Hart impressions.
“I would laugh so hard, she starting calling me LB — that’s short for laughing buddy.”
At home, at school and even at work, Artisha was the same positive person, according to a former trainer and co-worker, Adrianna Alsup.
“She never had an attitude, took direction well and worked hard,” Alsup said. “She would come in early or stay late if needed. She was real sweet and funny, just a real good person.”
A memorial balloon release in Artisha’s honor is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on the football field at Pine Bluff High School.