Former teacher, veteran Bill Pringle honored

Former teacher, veteran Bill Pringle honored
Posted on 06/26/2019
Former students, coworkers and community members gathered Tuesday afternoon to remember retired Tahoma High School teacher and U.S. Army Capt. Bill Pringle in a ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery.

Pringle served in the Army during the Vietnam War and received full military honors during the committal service. Three shots were fired in his memory, and “Taps” was played. As servicemen folded the American flag, the poem “Freedom Isn’t Free” was recited.

Afterward, many of Pringle’s former students and friends shared memories during a reception at the old Tahoma High School (now Maple View Middle School) -- the same building where he taught social studies from 1972-1996. Pringle died on May 31, 2019, at age 78.

Alum Brett Habenicht, who is president of the Greater Maple Valley Veterans Memorial Foundation and who had Pringle as a teacher, spoke about his “amazing spirit.” He said if Pringle was there at that moment, “We’d hear that damn typewriter going.”

“He pulled me aside one day and gave me a little bit of encouragement,” Habenicht said. “I was fortunate enough to have him there when I needed that.”

While the passing of a wonderful teacher and veteran is indeed sad, he said, it’s important to remember Pringle’s life was one that was well-lived. “What would have been sad is if we hadn’t had Bill Pringle.”

A letter was read aloud from one of Pringle’s former coworkers, current THS teacher Dale Lehman, who recalled Pringle’s scholarly appearance and demeanor, along with the grey tweed jacket and tie that he often wore. Pringle was “precise with his words,” Lehman wrote.

Former baseball Coach Chuck Wood shared that Pringle once took over for him during a baseball game when Wood had to be gone. The two often ate lunch together, and talked about countless topics through the years.

“He was a special, special person,” Wood said.

Several former students who spoke said they remember the care he showed for each person in his classes.

Millicent Tirk, who had Pringle as a teacher, also sent a letter to be read aloud. She wrote about his love of collecting Pringles potato chip cans, and the caring way that he reached out when each of her parents were diagnosed with cancer.

“I will remember and miss his big heart of gold,” Tirk wrote. “This man is a hero, not only because of his service to his country, but because of what he contributed to his community.”
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