School 17

Tresia (Pettit) Swain

June 5, 1952 ~ July 18, 2020 (age 68)



Tresia Swain, aged 68, passed away on Saturday, July 18, 2020, at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead.  She was born Tresia Lynn Pettit on June 5, 1952, in Maysville, Kentucky.

She is survived by her husband, Adrian Swain of Morehead; her sons, Gabriel Swain of Mexico City, Mexico, Luke Swain and his wife Allison Swain and her treasured grandchildren, Lula and Frank Swain all of Sugar Land, Texas; her brother, Randall Pettit of Flemingsburg, Kentucky; and her sister, Melinda Rollins and husband Dr. James Rollins of Mt Sterling, Kentucky. Tresia was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Josephine Pettit, and her brother Anthony, all of Grange City, Kentucky.

Tresia grew up on a farm in Fleming County. She worked for some time at Fasig Tipton in Lexington before studying at Morehead State University where she received a BA in Art Studio, certification in Remedial Reading, and an MA in K-12 Education. Before joining the public schools, she taught art briefly at Prestonsburg Community College. She went to work for Rowan County Schools in 1984. Aside from one year early on, working as the itinerant art teacher for seven schools in the county, she returned to Rowan County Middle School (RCMS) where she remained for the rest of her career. She later earned an advanced degree in Educational Leadership, and spent the last 15 years of her career as Principal of RCMS. She was much loved, and was the leading force in the inspired design of a new middle school facility that opened in 2011, six months before she retired.

Despite her dream of working as an artist, Tresia spent 27 years as an educator and was known for her supportive nature and her inspirational leadership. She was valued at RCMS for her inherently caring personality, her strong support of the arts, her insistence that all children deserve a supportive and student-differentiated education, and for cultivating an uplifting school culture. Although she could silence a school assembly with a simple “look,” she had a soft heart, and was steadfast in providing for the unique needs of the underdog. Education was her lifelong passion, and a responsibility she carried with her every day. She touched thousands of lives during her days as an educator.

Tresia had an insatiable curiosity about the world, and loved to travel. Over the years she spent time in England, Ireland, France, Madeira, North Cyprus, Mexico and Canada, celebrating the rich cultural differences that she encountered wherever she went.

She deeply loved her circle of special friends, and they know who they are! She held many people close to her heart, typically putting their health, safety and happiness ahead of her own. Despite serious health problems after she retired, Tresia reached out constantly with kindness, through phone calls, messages, baked goods, handmade jewelry, advice and love, right up to the end. She valued human contact beyond all else and maintained nurturing friendships that began as far back as her childhood.

Tresia was a dedicated artist throughout her life. Her paintings and felted images bring joy from the walls of her house and those of her sons.

In Tresia’s eyes, family was her greatest joy. She was an exceptional mother to her sons, Gabriel and Luke.  She reveled in their successes and was always there to support and give them time, extremely proud of the caring men that they became. She was vital in their development, teaching them both about the arts from an early age. Her grandchildren, Lula and Frank, were her crowning delight, and her face would light up a stadium when the phone rang with a video call and she heard the words “Hi Nana!”  Her vagabond husband of 41 years, Adrian, is eternally grateful for the many ways in which she helped to civilize him.

Tresia Swain began nurturing everyone around her when she was still quite young, and continued unabated until her life ended. She is loved and cherished. The world is a better place for her graceful, giving life.

In light of the current pandemic, and in keeping with Tresia’s wishes, there will be no funeral. A celebration of her life will take place at some time in the future.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the MSU Foundation Inc. to support specific student scholarships in memory of Tresia Swain. Donations can be mailed to:  Tresia Swain Scholarship, MSU Foundation, 150 University Blvd., PO Box 1887, Morehead, KY 40351. Donations can also be made to the Tresia Swain Scholarship online at   

Northcutt & Son Home for Funerals, 400 Fraley Drive, Morehead, KY 40351 is assisting the family with arrangements. 

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