|Calvin Mourns Pat Prince
November 2 , 2006
The Calvin community is anchored by a multitude of unsung heroes, the behind-the-scenes people who daily go about their tasks with quiet efficiency, pleasant smiles and an often unspoken but evident sense of calling. They are the people who in a very real sense keep Calvin running.
Pat Prince was one of those people. And her death on Wednesday, November 1 is a large loss for the entire college.
Prince (formerly Pat Worst) was felled in mid-afternoon by what may have been a heart attack while working in the Campus Store where she was employed as the merchandise and book event coordinator since August 2000. When she was discovered CPR immediately was administered by a fellow Campus Store employee. That process was continued by emergency rescue personnel upon their arrival at Calvin. None of those rescue efforts were successful however and Pat was pronounced dead later in the afternoon at a local hospital. She was just 52 years old.
In a message to the Calvin community college president Gaylen Byker said: "There is nothing that can prepare us for this sudden death of a friend and co-worker. But we know that Pat knew, and lived, the comfort that we lean on in these gut-wrenching times, the comfort we have as Christians in knowing that we are not our own, but belong body and soul to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. We praise God for Pat's life and we pray for the many, many people who are mourning this too-soon passing."
Friends and co-workers say Pat poured herself into her work at Calvin each day.
"She loved the customers, the books, the people," recalls Brenda Hoeksema, who worked closely with Prince on the gift shop that Calvin set up for its Petra: Lost City of Stone exhibition. "She wanted so bad to do a good job for everybody."
Fellow Campus Store employee Esther Waid echoes that sentiment.
"The Petra store was right up her alley," says Waid. "She had a ball."
Waid recalls too the special relationship Prince had with her customers, including former Calvin president William Spoelhof.
"Dr. Spoelhof and Pat were just great friends," Waid says. "She would help him choose cards for his grandkids and great grandkids, make recommendations to him. When he came in he always asked for her."
Campus Store director Tom VanWingerden remembers Pat's ever-present vigilance in regards to customer service.
"She was the customer service sheriff here," he says. "She took it very personally to make sure we were oriented to the customer."
He says too that working at the Campus Store was more than just a job for Pat.
"Like so many at Calvin she viewed her job as a ministry," he says. "She believed it was her calling to serve the public here."
VanWingerden says Prince had a deep faith and expressed it openly.
"The morning she passed away," he says, "she had mentioned to a fellow employee that in her morning prayers that day she had prayed specifically for the store and for her colleagues."
Calvin's chapel service on the day Pat died was on the theme "Remembering Those Who Have Gone Ahead" (so designed because of All Saints Day). Calvin's observance of the day saw the college pay tribute to a number of Calvin employees who all made a difference in the world, and on the college, during their tenures at Calvin and are still missed by many.
Next year it is likely that Pat Prince will be made part of that service of remembrance. For like many Calvin employees before her she made a difference. And like them she will be missed by many.
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