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Youth Board names dinner for local doctor

October 5, 2017

The Thanksgiving Eve dinner sponsored by The Harvest Youth Board has been named for the late Dr. W. Dan Prince III.

The W. Dan Prince III Thanksgiving Eve Dinner will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 22 at Martinsville High School.

Dr. Prince practiced general internal medicine in Martinsville for 36 years. He died in June at the age of 66 following a 13-month battle with leukemia.

He was a member of the board of Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County in 2002 when the board decided to sell the hospital. Proceeds from the sale were used to create The Harvest Foundation where Prince was an inaugural member of the Harvest board, serving for 11 years.

Dr. Prince also was among the first chairmen of the Harvest board’s governance committee, which oversees the structure of the board, its fiscal responsibilities, the selection process for new board members and overall governance of the foundation, according to Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation.

Rothrock served on the Memorial Hospital board with Dr. Prince and worked with him at Harvest. “A lot of what we do today is because of his leadership,” she said.

“He believed in The Harvest Foundation,” added Dr. Prince’s wife, Lauren Prince of Martinsville. “He really believed in this community.”

Harvest invested the hospital sale proceeds and uses revenue from those assets on initiatives to improve the community’s health, education and vitality.

As a physician, Dr. Prince was interested in the health initiatives but he also focused on education and community vitality, according to Lauren Prince and Rothrock.

“He got the whole thing; he saw the whole picture,” Lauren Prince said. “He understood the economics of why it (the hospital) needed to be sold to create The Harvest Foundation.”

During the process of selling Memorial and creating the foundation, Dr. Prince’s main concern was the care of people, Lauren Prince and Rothrock said. Hospital board members traveled throughout the nation, visiting hospitals that had been through similar experiences, and Dr. Prince would meet with the physicians to make sure health care did not suffer, Rothrock said.

“He felt doubly obligated to be sure the Harvest Foundation funds were well spent to benefit the most people,” Lauren Prince said. She added that he was concerned with the welfare of the community that he saw each day through the patients at his medical practice.

“He kept us all honest,” Rothrock said. “He kept everybody’s feet to the fire on what we were here to do. He never hesitated to jump up and ask questions.”

She remembered Dr. Prince as “someone who quietly gave back. He never raised a flag unless he was challenging you on something he thought you were wrong on.”

The Harvest Youth Board was created in 2014. Its 13 high school-age members award grants, create initiatives or develop projects related to youth issues. Board members also advise the full Harvest Foundation Board of Directors on youth and community issues. The board is supported by Harvest and the Kiwanis Club.

Last year the Youth Board held its first Thanksgiving eve dinner. More than 175 volunteers — mostly students — served 1,704 free meals to area residents.

This year as planning for the dinner got in full-swing, the Youth Board and Harvest staff talked about a name for the dinner that it considers its signature event. Former Youth Board chairperson Max Pinkston had been a patient of Dr. Prince.

“His (Dr. Prince’s) name fit in with what we’re doing because of his contributions,” said Karli Foster, chairperson of the Youth Board. She added that the board unanimously approved naming the dinner for the physician.

Dr. Prince “would have been a huge supporter of the Youth Board,” said DeWitt House, senior program officer at The Harvest Foundation.

“What he stood for and what your dinner stands for and what you are trying to do mirrors one another. He would have been very proud to have his name on it,” House said, adding that Dr. Prince’s name will be associated with the Thanksgiving eve dinner into the future.

“He would have been honored and humbled,” Lauren Prince said.

The three Prince children — Will Prince of Richmond; Mary Helen Johnston of Greenville, N.C.; and Grace Prince of Chapel Hill, N.C. — are “naturally proud of their dad” and are glad he is being recognized through the Youth Board dinner, Lauren Prince said. The Princes also have a grandson, Andrew Johnson, who is almost 2.

The Thanksgiving Eve dinner will be served at Martinsville High School from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 22, or deliveries can be arranged by calling 403-9070 by 5 p.m. Nov. 20.

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