Chiefs' Athletics pioneer Bill Prince passes away

Chiefs' Athletics pioneer Bill Prince passes away

(Sugar Grove, IL.) – Former Waubonsee Community College coach, administrator and instructor William "Bill" Prince passed away peacefully on July 4 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. One of the founding members of Waubonsee's Athletic Program, Prince was 83 years old. Family, friends and former colleagues filled nearly every pew at Oswego Presbyterian Church on July 9 for a moving funeral service officiated by Rev. Skip Shaffer. The service in Prince's memory included songs, scripture readings, prayers, and touching eulogies by his children, his two brothers, grandson Dylan, and former Chiefs' baseball coach and player Dave Randall. A private family interment was held immediately afterward, followed by a luncheon at Whitetail Ridge Golf Course where attendees reminisced about the well liked, admired, respected, and affable Prince.  

Prince was the Chiefs' first athletic director, baseball coach, physical education instructor and Physical Education Department Chairman, simultaneously holding all those positions beginning in 1967. As if that were not enough, he even coached the Chiefs' cross country teams in 1972 and 1973. After eight years Prince relinquished the athletic director's position in 1974 and gave up the baseball coaching role in 1977. However, Prince still got his swings in as he took over the reins of Waubonsee's golf team for the next six years. In addition, he served as Aurora University's head baseball coach in 1978, leading the Spartans to a conference title in his lone year with the program.

During his Waubonsee tenure Prince guided the Chiefs to a Skyway Conference baseball title and a pair of Region IV Sectional baseball championships, while his golf teams also carded two Skyway Conference crowns. Prince's 1973 baseball team finished fifth in the Region IV when all of the Illinois community colleges were in one division, and set a school record for home runs in a season that still stands. His 1974 baseball team was the first athletic team at Waubonsee to be nationally ranked, and established a school record for lowest team earned-run-average that has not been broken. Prince's 1975 baseball team went undefeated in Skyway play to win the conference title, then went on to win the Region IV Sectional crown and advanced all the way to the NJCAA Region IV Tournament Championship game, finishing second among the tournament's 45 teams. The 1975 team was inducted into the Chiefs' Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, under Coach Prince's tutelage 22 baseball players were named All-Skyway First Team. 

Off the field, Prince developed the first computerized baseball statistics program in 1973 for the Region IV which was used for nearly 40 years. He was also at the forefront of overall fitness and well-being, as he conceived the idea and development of Waubonsee's Fitness Center years before such facilities became commonplace. He remained a physical education instructor at Waubonsee until retiring in 1993. Prince's many athletic contributions were recognized in 2003 when he was inducted into the Skyway Conference's Hall of Fame. In 2007 he was part of the inaugural class of inductees into Waubonsee's Athletic Hall of Fame and in 2013 was inducted into the Region IV Hall of Fame.

After retiring from Waubonsee Prince earned a real estate license, working for Weis Real Estate in Oswego and Realty Executives in Aurora for several years. During the summer months, Prince taught golf to thousands of students from 1975 to 2000 at Valley Green Golf Course in North Aurora. He remained an avid golfer and a dedicated St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan his entire life. As a matter-of-fact, just two months ago Prince shared some stories and life wisdom with a few former Chiefs' baseball players, their families, and the 2019 Waubonsee team at the inaugural Waubonsee Baseball Alumni Day.

Prince was born in Joplin, Missouri on September 2, 1935, and grew up in southern Illinois, graduating from Cisne High School. He later earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in Education from Eastern Illinois University. He began his teaching and coaching career at Westfield High School before moving on to Beecher City for five years. Prior to his tenure at Waubonsee, Prince taught and coached at Oswego High School.

Prince is survived by his wife Jean and his three children: Robert (Sharon) Prince of New Canaan, CT; Robyn (Charles) Sutcliff of Yorkville, IL; and Michael Prince of Phoenix, AZ; a step daughter, Kelly (Jason) Maxwell of Fulshear, TX; and two brothers: Larry (Linda) Prince, of Sun City West, AZ and Tom (Marilyn) Prince of Franklin, TN. Additionally, he is survived by seven grandchildren, twin step grandchildren, a great granddaughter, four nieces and nephews, and two great nieces. Memorial donations may be directed to the Oswego Presbyterian Church Building Fund, 1976 Illinois Route 25, Oswego, IL 60543.