February 2024 Alumni Spotlights: Donna Riley (FC ’71) and Steve Prince (NA ’84)

February 2024 Alumni Spotlights: Donna Riley (FC ’71) and Steve Prince (NA ’84)

Excerpt from the February 2024 Legacy Ledger:

Alumni Spotlight Header

We begin with the sad announcement that two legends, previously profiled here, have joined the roster of the dearly departed: Floyd Central Hall of Famer Rick Miller and Tom Weatherston, unique in being inducted into the Hall of Fame for both NAHS and FCHS. They represented all three high schools: Georgetown, Floyd Central and New Albany.

In this month’s issue, we introduce two grads who have “faithfully served the Hall of Fame process” at their respective alma mater schools. For both Donna Riley FCHS ’71 and Steven Prince NAHS ’84, their work has been behind the scenes, usually… and away from the “Spotlight”. The NAHS Hall of Fame began in 2007 and the FCHS Hall of Fame inducted its first members in 2010. It is no surprise that both Donna and Steve know a LOT of folks in both of the alumni communities, covering the six decades… through hundreds of schoolmates, faculty, staff and especially members of their own immediate families. So, let’s get to know the two of THEM better.

Introduction and spotlights by Rex Bickers (FCHS ‘70)

Donna Riley

Donna Riley is a fifth-generation descendant of her pioneering ancestor Michael Riley Jr., who came to Floyd County in the 1840s. Local family roots that run very deep are not that unusual around here. But Donna’s family has one unique difference: all the siblings, nieces and nephews who still live “on the farm” today. And it sits on Riley Ridge, the geographic feature of the same name.

She was an “everything” student, entering Floyd Central as a ninth grader when the doors first opened. She was a class officer all four of her senior high school years. From the time that the FC ’71 grads hit the “five-year” mark, she has been the principal leader, putting together all of their class reunions.

She began working at an insurance agency, while still in high school. She stayed in it, setting aside her dream of going to college to become a teacher. By the age of 21, she had obtained her insurance license, and she went on to be the owner of her own agency. Thirty years elapsed in her insurance career. She sold the business and earned the college degree (in Office Administration) that she wanted earlier. 

Donna Riley in clown costume.It was part of her making a new start… in the non-profit world. Years earlier, she had learned about Leadership Southern Indiana (LSI), an adult leadership program. She enrolled in the class of 1990-91 and was subsequently invited to join the LSI Board of Directors. She later returned as its Executive Director from 2001-2009. She was active in Toastmasters International, obtaining the Distinguished Toastmaster Award. She led training sessions for other Toastmasters and won numerous speaking contests. A side career was of her professional clowning for thirty years.

She received the Servant Leader Award in 2014 from LSI, and in 2018 she was named Alumna of the Year by Ivy Tech Community College. Through the years she has been highly active in her church, Tunnel Hill Christian, and currently serves as an Elder. Her life has consisted of overlapping chapters: business, her church life, non-profit involvement and caring for her parents through 2022.

Through it all, giving and serving have been at the core. She created an endowment fund at the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana so her legacy of philanthropy will continue after she is gone. Donna is a proud founding member of the Impact 100 of Southern Indiana (previously Women’s Foundation of Southern Indiana) and continues to serve on their Board of Directors. She credits Alice Miles for being a mentor and friend in her work with the WFSI and Impact 100. She was instrumental in 2019 when the FC Alumni Board launched its Endowment Fund. She is currently an Alumni Board member and has served on its board since its launch in 2008. When the FC Hall of Fame first began, she chaired its selection committee and remains active in that role.

Donna has been married to Joe Wayne since 2006. They are finally getting the hang of traveling a bit. Retirement? She’s still working on that.

Steven Prince

For Steven Prince, the number of NAHS grads in his immediate family is quite similar to Donna Riley’s tally… you could fill a baseball team and still have a designated hitter, with his parents: Walter (’55) and Betty (Phelps) Prince (’56), five siblings from the classes of ’77 through ’93, and two sons from ’17 and ’23. That said, baseball might not be Steve’s sport of choice, as he has coached wrestling for 23 of the past 32 years at both the JV and middle school levels.

His education and teaching credentials bring one word immediately to mind: “rigorous.” He holds degrees from Wabash College (B.A., with a major in Latin and a double minor in English and Ancient Greek, honored as Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa), from UMass Amherst, a master’s degree in teaching… and from Bellarmine, he earned an Ed.S. (Education Specialist) degree, roughly equal to a second master’s degree.

He’s completed summer enhancement programs at Andrews University (in Michigan) on the archeology of ancient Israel and Jordan, at Tufts (Boston) on Vergil and the era of Rome’s first emperor (Augustus) and earlier at the American School of Classical Studies (Athens, Greece). He plans to end his high school teaching career once summer 2024 arrives. It totals 34 years, about half at NAHS (1991-1995, 2011-2024) and half at St. Joseph High School in Michigan. He’s received achievement awards as a Latin teacher twice: in Michigan, the Glenn M. Knudsvig Award (2007) and from the Indiana Classical Conference, Teacher of the Year in 2023.

The 2023 NAHS Hall of Fame (HoF) inducted ten new members; for Steve, it was the seventh “season” in nine years serving on the HoF committee (there was no Hall of Fame induction in 2020 or 2021). Long-time committee chair Susan Adams NAHS ’64 (and a Hall of Famer herself) was quick to confirm what an asset he’s been as a committee member. “He’s done a very good job working on the printed program for our annual event, writing a number of the inductees’ biographical profiles”.

The NAHS Library and Media Center, newly renamed in '22 in honor of the late Alice Ranck Hettle thanks to the efforts of Steven Prince and others. A more visible and praiseworthy effort was Steve’s role in the NAHS Library and Media Center renaming (2022), honoring the highly cherished Hall of Fame inductee, the late Alice Ranck Hettle. During her tenure at New Albany (1952-1986), Alice and her much-vaunted Junior Classical League inspired thousands of students, particularly its highest achievers. In the very first issue of Alumni Spotlight, Jim Bright NAHS ’70 recalls some of the things he learned from her. Perhaps none is more memorable than this: “Preparation will cure what ails you”.

With retirement on the horizon, Steve and his wife Debbie are looking forward to resuming and expanding their history of travel to the Mediterranean and beyond. It won’t be a first rodeo. Between 1995 and 2016, Steve led student travels, six times, to Italy (and sometimes Greece). A trip had been planned for 2020 that could have included their children, but the pandemic got in the way. It’s back on for this June. Buon viaggio!

Read the complete February 2024 Legacy Ledger

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