LORIS | Eldred Eugene Prince Sr., 96, died Monday, June 9, 2008 in the Loris Community Hospital, an institution he helped to found.

Mr. Prince was born on Assembly Street in Columbia, South Carolina, December 23, 1911. He was the second son of John Bert Prince and Lessie Rowell Prince, both natives of Horry County. Prince spent his childhood in the Fair Bluff community and graduated from Fair Bluff High School in 1930. He attended Wake Forest College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1933. Prince taught in Bladen County, N.C. schools in 1933 and 1934, but left teaching to enter the automobile business. In 1935, he founded Prince Chevrolet Company in Loris with brother, J.B. Prince Jr. In 1944, the brothers founded Prince Motor Company, a Chevrolet-Oldsmobile franchise in Tabor City, N.C. He served as president of the Horry County Auto Dealers Association.

With the coming of World War II, Prince accepted a commission in the U.S. Navy. He served in the Pacific for much of the war, returning in 1944 as an instructor of Naval Aviation cadets in Massachusetts. Prince was discharged in 1946 as a Lieutenant.

Prince was a founder, the charter president and a member for 70 years of the Loris Civitan Club. He was a former commander of American Legion Post 41. Mr. Prince was a member of the Loris First Baptist Church for 73 years, serving in numerous capacities including deacon and Sunday School teacher.

In the post-war years, Prince led the efforts to establish a hospital in Loris. He served on the Loris Community Hospital Board of Commissioners for 38 years and was Chairman for 36 years (1948 - 1984). The hospital has ultimately become the town's largest employer and has substantially improved the region's health and quality of life. He was also a trustee of the Horry County Library.

In the 1950's and 1960's, Prince led Loris Industrial Developers in a quest for industry that resulted in more than 1000 new jobs in the community. He was a founder and former president of Horry County National Bank, later Southern National Bank, now BB&T.

Prince was a founder and faithful supporter of Coastal Carolina University. He was a past chairman of the Horry County Higher Education Commission and Coastal Educational Foundation. Mr. Prince directed a successful campaign to raise funds for the construction of the first college building on the Coastal Carolina College campus. Coastal awarded Prince an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1982 and named the Eldred E. Prince Building in his honor in 1994. He was also a benefactor of Southeastern Community College in Whiteville, N.C. Prince compiled, edited and published ''God Knows Your Name,'' a collection of sermons by S. George Lovell.

Civic awards and recognitions include the Silver Beaver (Boy Scouts of America), Distinguished Service Award (S.C. Jaycees), ''A Hero of Horry County'' (Coastal Federal Bank), ''Citizen of the Century'' by the Loris Chamber of Commerce and the Distinguished Service Award, ''Service Above Self to God and Country'' by the American Legion.

Mr. Prince was predeceased by his first wife, Sarah Wooten Prince; and his siblings, John Hubert Prince, J.B. Prince Jr., and Dorothy P. Bryan.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred H. Prince, her daughter, Dr. Deborah A. Vrooman and husband, John F. Vrooman, of Conway and granddaughter, Ava Ann Vrooman; his son, Dr. Eldred E. ''Wink'' Prince Jr. and wife, Sallye B. Prince, of Conway; his daughter, Jane Prince Pickens of Spartanburg, and grandchildren, Sarah Pickens, Suzanne Pickens, Scott Prince, Russell Prince and Michael Prince.

He is also survived by an outstanding legacy of philanthropy and community service. Prince dedicated his considerable energy and intelligence to developing the region's economy, healthcare and higher education. Journalist Horace Carter wrote of him, ''Eldred Prince represents the best of American free enterprise and community spirit. He left his mark upon everything he touched and will long be remembered as a visionary and pillar of the community he loved.''

The family will receive friends from 6 until 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at Ward Funeral Home in Loris.

Funeral services will be held 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, June 12, 2008, from the Loris First Baptist Church with Dr. Larry Turner and the Rev. Ray Lundy officiating. Interment will follow in the Twin City Memorial Gardens.

Memorials may be made to Coastal Educational Foundation of Coastal Carolina University, P.O. Box 261954, Conway, SC 29528, Loris/Seacoast Healthcare Foundation, 4000 Hwy. 9 East, Little River, SC 29566, Loris First Baptist Church, 3117 Main St., Loris, SC 29569 or Southeastern Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 151, Whiteville, NC 28472.

The family extends Special Thanks to Dr. Chuck Mills, the staff of the Loris Extended Care Center and the excellent staff of private caregivers.

Ward Funeral Home of Loris, (843) 756-9273, is serving the Prince family.
Published in The Sun News on 6/11/2008.