Outpouring of Support, Gratitude, and Love for Beloved Veteran and Teacher

Full Military Honors Rendered at Tahoma National Cemetery

Students, colleagues, and friends gathered at Tahoma National Cemetery midafternoon Tuesday, June 25, to pay tribute to William H. “Bill” Pringle. Mr. Pringle served at the rank of captain in the United States Army from 1963 to 1965. In his teaching career, he taught Social Studies and Government classes and served as advisor to Japan Club, over tenure at Tahoma High School that lasted from 1972 until his retirement in 1995. Such was his command in the classroom that longtime colleague Marie Page praised that he reminded her of Robin Williams’s character in the movie Dead Poets Society.

At a reception held in his honor in the Maple View Middle School Commons within sight of the location of Mr. Pringle’s classroom, mourners recalled a gifted educator who did much more than simply teach the content of his subject area. Foremost, he was a mentor and guide who took an abiding interest in insuring that his students were, in today’s language, Future Ready—that they possessed direction and the skills necessary to accomplish their goals after high school. Mr. Pringle also understood a fundamental tenet of great teaching, which is that positive teacher-student relationships are the foundation for quality learning.

The room resonated in fond memories and warm feelings.

Some remembered Mr. Pringle for his quiet dignity and professionalism. His typical attire, which ranged from a pullover sweater to a grey tweed jacket, pressed shirt, and necktie, conveyed the demeanor more of a college professor than a high school teacher.

Speakers described Mr. Pringle as generous and giving. He was kind, caring, scholarly, engaged, and inspiring.

A master of his profession, he shared with his students his lighter sides as well. For example, he obsessed over Mary Tyler Moore, even keeping a framed picture of the famous actress on his desk.

For Robert Burns Day, it was a kilt and Celtic music, played on high volume, which presumably intentionally, echoed all the way down the hallway, while students happily munched away on the shortbread cookies he brought for them to eat.

In a nod to his surname, Mr. Pringle collected Pringles potato chip cans and delighted in the release of each new design.

Brett Habenicht, a member of the class of 1984, recounted how Mr. Pringle reached out to him with wise counsel at a formative juncture in his junior year.

Mikael Wrande, a foreign exchange student from Stockholm in 1983-1984, recalled in a Facebook message sent from Sweden, Mr. Pringle’s willingness to take on difficult and controversial topics in the classroom. Rather than shying away, he seized on them as teachable moments. When a group of male students wearing cowboy hats stated an opinion in support of guns, Mr. Pringle turned the issue into a class debate in which he expected everyone to participate and he wrote the pros and cons on the board. The views expressed that day have stuck with Mikael thirty-five years later.

In prepared remarks read by Marc Perez of the Patriot Guard Riders, former colleague Dale Lehman described Mr. Pringle as “a Scotsman through and through.” He was “precise and metered with his words” and “although introverted by nature, readily expressed his opinion when he needed to.”

Class of 1991 graduate Millicent Tirk noted Mr. Pringle’s “big heart of gold.” When each of her parents suffered with health concerns, he sent personal notes and he attended both of their memorial services. “This man is a hero,” she wrote. “Not only because of his service to his country, but also for what he contributed to the community of Maple Valley, his fellow man, and his students.”

There is further evidence of the high regard in which Mr. Pringle was held. When several of his former students learned that he had passed without immediate family and he was to be interred at Tahoma National Cemetery without a memorial service or an opportunity for those who loved and admired him to be present, their social media and email conversations set in motion a response that culminated in his public funeral and reception that KOMO-TV documented in a segment featured on Eric Johnson’s popular series “Eric’s Heroes.”

Captain William Pringle has now entered into eternal rest among his brother and sister veterans in a national cemetery overlooking the school where he taught and in the community that he served so passionately, faithfully, and well.