Adolphus (Adaulph) Lee Prince was born in Sikeston, Missouri, on December 12, 1951, the first child of Marie Wright and Robert Troupe. He was educated by African-American teachers in a loving community that included his brother, sister, and many cousins. When racial integration arrived in Southeast Missouri, the young man took his place at Sikeston High School, where he was an excellent student and played defensive tackle on the football team. He graduated with the class of 1970, earning a scholarship to Southeast Missouri State University, and commuted to college for a year with a cousin.
In the Vietnam-era draft lottery, he drew a low number and, hearing that the Air Force was “people-oriented,” he enlisted in 1971. A favorite memory was the group of community ladies who came to see him off on the bus to St. Louis, bearing sack lunches and personalized Bible verses for the Sikeston men heading out to serve their country. Adolphus, as he was known to family, began introducing himself as “Lee” to those he met after he joined the Air Force. To his military buddies, he was and remained “Prince.” He served in medical support roles, including management of Flight Surgeon clinics, and retired in 1992 with the rank of Master Sergeant. Among Lee’s favorite duty stations were: Wright Patterson in Dayton, Ohio, where he met and married Benay Cole; Dover, Delaware, where his daughter Sheeleah was born on Lee’s 28th birthday; and bases in Greece, where Cydnee was born in 1989.
Lee earned a bachelor’s degree from Wayland Baptist University while in the Air Force and, upon retirement, earned a master’s at Texas Tech University. He was a certified special education teacher, drawing upon his magical rapport with young people to serve school districts in Texas. In 2008, Lee arrived at New Mexico Military Institute, his final and unofficial duty station, as a Troop Leadership Advisor, living among cadets on the third stoop of “the box” for five years. A steward of the earth and a believer in simple living, Lee traveled only by bicycle, bus, or on foot around Roswell. Beginning in 2013, Lee was a substitute teacher in the Roswell Independent School District. Rarely a school day passed that he did not work at a local school. His favorite art work at home—a “fixer-upper” farm house he purchased with life partner Kay in 2013--includes drawings that students made of him. He traveled light and often— by Amtrak, by Greyhound, by military cargo transport, and by car or commercial airline when necessary.
Lee died in the late afternoon of July 29, 2015, on Highway 380 east of Roswell, while en route to visit his daughter Cydnee. He had returned that day from a trip to Los Angeles, where he visited his mother’s only surviving sibling and a former brother-in-law he had not seen in 20 years. Before leaving for Los Angeles, Lee spent three days providing loving in-hospital and home care to his life partner Kay. As on every other day of his adult life, he was wearing his military dog tags on the day he passed. Lee was preceded in death by his mother and father. Family who celebrate his life and mourn his passing include: daughters Sheeleah Prince of Washington, D.C. and Cydnee Prince of Lubbock, Texas; brother William Prince (Anita) of Dayton, Ohio; sister Bethany Bean of Decatur, Illinois; former wife Benay Prince of Lubbock; life partner Kay Kuhlmann of Ruidoso, New Mexico; niece Natalie Prince; nephews Anthony Prince, Brandon Bean, Davin Bean, and Cameron Bean; and more than 50 first cousins and in-laws who will deeply miss Adolphus.
Lee’s seven-and-a-half years of vibrant life in Southeast New Mexico are being celebrated at the NMMI Chapel in Roswell New Mexico at 2pm on Monday August 10th 2015. All Are welcome.