‘Pillar in the community’
David Prince remembered as dedicated public servant
David A. Prince dedicated his life to serving the public.
“David was a pillar in the community, a one-of-a-kind man,” said Joe Granata, a friend of Prince’s and a fellow veteran. “He spent his life serving, whether it be for the military or the village.”
Before Prince started his own venture in life, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1964, at a young age of 22. He served as a military policeman, stationed at Fort Hood in Texas before his first assignment, which was a bodyguard to Martin Luther King and marchers during the 1965 march for civil rights. Soon after that assignment, he was deployed to Vietnam for a year to escort and protect Gen. William Westmoreland and Vice President Hubert Humphrey during their visits.
Dan Pacos, Pomfret town supervisor, reminisced on the many roles he saw Prince take on.
“I’ve known him for over 30 years, and during that time, I knew him as a police officer, a judge, a wedding officiant, but most of all, I knew him as a fellow resident,” Pacos said. “He was always a great guy — I can’t think of anybody who didn’t like him.”
Prince passed away on July 2 at the age of 77 following a five-year battle with cancer.
In 1967, just a year after returning from the service, Prince became a member of the Sheridan Police Department, serving as police chief on nights and weekends for 23 years. In 1970, Prince was appointed as a special deputy sheriff for Chautauqua County by Sheriff John Bentley.
Prince was a volunteer firefighter with the D.R. Barker Hose Co. since 1962 and the Sheridan Fire Department when he lived there. Through all of this, Prince had a long-time career with the Dunkirk and Fredonia Telephone Company where he worked for 35 years.
“David was stern (as a judge), but that’s because he wanted to see the community be kind to one another and live peacefully,” Granata said. “He was a compassionate guy. He didn’t just look at the violation, he looked into the problem and worked with the person to make sure they didn’t end up in front of him again.”
Dedicating 30 years of his life serving as a judge, Prince was elected in 1990 to serve the town of Pomfret, where he held the position until 2015. In 1997, Prince was elected to serve as the village of Fredonia’s justice, a position he held up until three days before his death.
“One time I asked him why he continued to be the judge, even when he was going through chemotherapy and all his other treatments,” Granata said. “He told me that he loved the community so much and he wanted to give back and do things for the people that depended on him.”
Prince’s wife, Susan, said “David would’ve died in office if I didn’t make him resign. He was so committed to the community and changing lives.
If he could turn a life around for the better, he did. We had people come up to us, telling us how David had touched their lives in some way.”
“I’m blessed to have had these last years with David,” she continued. “The first four years of his diagnosis were OK, but during the past year things started to go downhill. It was a wonderful last five years with him, reconnecting with him.”
He was a lifelong resident of Chautauqua County, born in Dunkirk at Brooks Memorial Hospital to the late Arthur F. and Charlotte (Schwertfager) Prince English and earning his high school diploma from Fredonia High School in 1961.
“I am so proud of David for all the things he accomplished in his life,” his wife said. “It was hard at times because I knew he loved me and put me first, but he loved changing lives so much, especially young people, that I had to step back and realize that he loved the community too.”
Other than serving the public, Prince enjoyed other aspects of life, including his membership of the Fredonia First United Methodist Church. He was also a charter and life member of the Sheridan Veterans of Foreign Wars, a life member and past president of the Chautauqua County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and a member and past president of the Van Buren Bay Association.
Prince also held memberships to several other clubs and associations, including the Shorewood Country Club, the Dunkirk Exempt Firemen, the Elks Club, the NYS and Chautauqua County Magistrates Associations, and a past member of the Dunkirk Yacht Club.
“Prince was a great man and I will remember all of the little things he did, not just one specific story,” Pacos said. “He cared for the community and that’s the way I’ll remember him. He will be missed.”
Prince is survived by not only his wife of over 30 years and their dog Hunter, but also his son David A. Prince II and his grandson Joseph David Prince. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Patricia A. Logan.
“David’s firmness, fairness, generosity and compassion will be missed greatly,” Granata said. “I thought the world of him. We need more people like him in the community.”
His wife spoke of the tender moments that her and Prince had together in the last few years, including going to Florida for the winters and going to dinner with friends every Friday evening. “I will never forget these last years I had with David,” she said. “They meant so much to me and I am so blessed to have had them.”