Jan Pruitt, who led the North Texas Food Bank for 20 years before stepping down last month, died recently at age 63.
Pruitt left her position as president and CEO of the food bank in December to spend more time with her loved ones as she battled cancer.
"Jan was a one-of-a-kind leader whose spirit and passion for feeding our hungry neighbors will continue to live in each of us as we fulfill her extraordinary legacy through the mission of the food bank," food bank board chair Tom Black said in a prepared statement.
A former stay-at-home mom, Pruitt was inspired to enter the nonprofit world after a call from her priest. She began her work at the Lancaster Outreach Center.
Prior to joining the food bank in 1997, Pruitt served as executive director of Feeding Texas, previously known as the Texas Food Bank Network. She was elected chair of the Feeding America board of directors in 2014.
"Even long before that she was doing a lot of innovative things as far as the battle against hunger," said interim CEO Simon Powell.
Powell said he believes Pruitt had a calling to do something for the community.
"Her personality is best described as living by the credo of 'if not me, who?'" Powell said. "She was always ready for the challenge and [had] the vision and the courage to go and fight for those in the community that needed someone to fight for them.
"She was very tenacious and dogged in the way she went about it," said Powell, who was chief operating officer before stepping into the interim position.
Pruitt, a graduate of Dallas Baptist University, made it a point to focus on providing nutritious meals to children who may be on food assistance at school, but go hungry on weekends and evenings, Powell said.
Pruitt was fearless in her work and passionate about promoting women in leadership roles in and out of the food bank, Powell said.
She was on the board of Downtown Dallas Inc. and Crossroads Community Services, and was a former president of the Women's Council of Greater Dallas County. She was also a member of the International Women's Forum and Leadership Dallas.
She is survived by her husband, Charles Pruitt; daughter Natalie Pruitt of Dallas; son Eryk Pruitt and wife Lana Pierce, of Durham, N.C.; son Chris Pruitt and wife Bahar of Heber Springs, Ark.; son Jonathon Pruitt and wife Liz of Dallas; and five grandchildren.