Ray Prince was a year or two behind me at Clairton High School. His dad, Joe Prince was a mover and shaker in Clairton as well as one outstanding accordion player. I remember when he was in junior high school Ray became interested in printing. He was able to print business cards and we all thought that was neat. His interest grew and as he grew so did his printing business. He opened a shop called Prince Printing. Although he eventually sold the business, his legacy remains in Clairton as the business on St. Clair Avenue still thrives.
My high school guidance counselor at CHS told me I was not college material. When it came Ray’s turn to visit the counselor, he was told that college was out for him as colleges did not teach Printing Management, and even if he did go he would probably flunk out. That mantra had a familiar ring to it. Turns out the counselor was wrong – again. Ray did go to college at the Rochester Institute of Technology, did very well, then earned a graduate degree in Printing Management at South Dakota State University, then continued to thrive in the world of paper and ink. He met the love of his life, Nancy, who was from South Dakota, and that is where they settled and where Ray became a giant in the field.
How big of a giant? Well, in addition to printing, he as authored numerous books, countless articles, and become a noted keynote speaker from coast to coast. He has served as President of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, and received their Honors Award for Lifetime Achievement. The National Association for Printer Leadership honored him with their Craftsman of the Year Award and Graphic Arts Technical Foundation’s Industry Education Award. He has assumed numerous leadership positions in the field including serving as a director on the Board of the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation. The awards Ray has received could, well, fill a book!
So what does one do after a working lifetime and gathering recognition and awards in his field? How about starting a library? Ray raised funds and solicited book donations for the Raymond J. Prince Shakespeare Press Museum Resource Room on the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The Graphic Communications Department’s students will benefit from his efforts. According to Dr. Harvey L. Levenson, Department Head at the campus, “The collection comes from all over the nation and includes books, magazines, journals, research papers, and more. Some date back to the 1800s and many of these volumes are one of a kind and very valuable.”
Ray’s career started early and his 50-plus year career as a graphic arts consultant has been spent teaching and training. During a recent keynote speech at CalPoly, Ray Prince stated, “Knowledge is precious. The thinking of others can stimulate creative ideas. The resource room was born with the idea of stimulating students and professors. Years ago, I sent some books to three institutions. Dr. Harvey Levenson was the only one to acknowledge my donation… From there the idea grew and donations were added to the resources that Cal Poly had already acquired.”
The donation that he provided Cal Poly included an entire collection of 11,000 volumes including many that are irreplaceable. In addition he is seeking to add 194 cases of bound and unbound periodicals.
Ray announced his retirement a few months ago, but I wouldn’t bet on his sitting home in a robe and slippers, smoking a pipe and reflecting on paper and ink. No, my guess is that Ray Prince has quite a few more miles to travel on behalf of educating young people in the graphic arts. Ray Prince, Clairton boy.