PULLMAN, Wash. — For more than 40 years, Eugene Prince has committed his life to public service, much of it as a Washington state legislator. For his efforts, he received Washington State University’s Alumni Achievement Award Nov. 2 at the annual WSU Dad’s Weekend breakfast. More than 24 family members and friends were in attendance.
Three generations of Prince’s family are Cougar alumni, beginning with his father, Burdett H. Prince (’26 Agri.) After graduating from WSU (’52 Agri. Engr.), and a two-year tour as an Air Force officer in New Mexico, Prince returned to Whitman County and the family farm business at Thornton. Widely respected by his peers, he was elected president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, as well as commissioner of the Washington Wheat Commission.
His political career began in 1959 when late Sen. Elmer Huntley (’37) of Thornton invited him to Olympia to work as a bill clerk during the legislative session. He served as assistant chief clerk in 1963 and committee clerk on redistricting in 1965. Members of the House of Representatives elected him sergeant of arms in 1967. For six years in that role, he was responsible for administrative duties of operating the House.
Prince was elected to the House in 1980, and served for 12 years, the last six as Republican Caucus chair. In 1992, he was elected to the Senate, where he served from 1993-99.
As a senator, he served on the state Transportation and Higher Education committees, representing eastern Washington and helping promote the needs of higher education, including WSU.
Following his retirement from the Senate in 1999, Prince was appointed by Gov. Gary Locke to chair the Washington State Liquor Control Board through January 2005.