Carol Prince may not be a household name in the Lake Houston community, but the Lake Houston resident has spent her 33-year career at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital in Humble as the hospital’s go-to person.
- Prince says ‘goodbye’ to Prince says ‘goodbye’ to Memorial Hermann Northeast -
“When I needed something, she’s the person at the hospital that I would call,” said Roy Hearnsberger, president of the Northeast Hospital Authority, during a farewell reception held at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital recently to honor Prince, who spent most of those 33 years as executive assistant to the CEO, first at Northeast Medical Center Hospital and then Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital when it was acquired by the Memorial Hermann System in 2007.
Humble Mayor Merle Aaron echoed Hearnsberger’s thoughts.
“While Carol has been an asset to the hospital, she’s been so important to the city, too, always joyful, always helpful,” the mayor said just before proclaiming June 18, 2019 as Carol Prince Day in the City of Humble.
A couple hundred friends and colleagues gathered at the Northeast campus on June 18 to celebrate Prince’s 33 years of service and help guide her into retirement.
“On behalf of the hospital, thank you for taking care of us,” said current CEO Josh Urban.
And, during those 33 years, there wasn’t anything that Prince wasn’t willing to do to get the job done.
An example: A former CEO of the hospital had planned to “lip-synch” as Elvis in the hospital’s very popular annual talent show but, as often happens to CEOs, she discovered the day before the big show that she was being called away for a meeting she had to attend.
The CEO’s solution? Call in the administrative assistant for help.
That’s how Prince found herself dressed up as Elvis and lip-synching “Wild Thing” to a couple hundred enthralled fellow employees.
“I agreed; I mean, she was my boss,” recalled Prince, “but I was so nervous about making a fool of myself.”
Prince’s mom helped her execute all those Elvis moves with the “turned-up lip” and the “leg roll.”
“As it turned out, nobody knew who I was, and the employees loved it. In fact, they asked me after the performance to visit patients,” Prince said. “The patients loved meeting Elvis and the day turned out to be fun after all.”
The day Prince lip-synched as Elvis may not have been her toughest, but it certainly was one of her most memorable days, Prince said.
Prince is a Columbus, Ohio native, who met her first husband, John Huber, when she was a high school freshman.
“He asked me to a football game and, from that point on we were inseparable,” she said.
Prince and Huber moved to Texas in 1982 so Huber could expand his construction career in Humble while Prince gained valuable experience as assistant to an oil executive in downtown Houston.
“By this time, I had a 6-month-old and decided it was time to work closer to home,” Prince said.
Prince’s positive personality and can-do attitude as well as her flexibility and adaptability got her a position in marketing at what was then Northeast Medical Center Hospital in Humble.
For four years, she was the photographer, wrote the press releases, organized events and, most importantly, got to know Northeast inside and out.
By the time a new CEO was selected, Prince was primed to become his executive assistant, a position she held until she retired a few weeks ago – 29 years later.
“Northeast is a big family,” she said. “Many of us live here in Lake Houston and work here not only because it’s close to home but also because, working in health care, it gives us an opportunity to serve our community, our family and our friends.”
That “family atmosphere” was invaluable when Huber died after 37 years of marriage.
“It was just amazing and very gratifying how my hospital family took care of John and me. They carried me through a very difficult period,” Prince said.
Prince didn’t think she’d ever remarry, “…but God had other plans for me,” she said. “It was a chance meeting with an old friend, a widower, from my son’s high school band days. It started a new chapter in my life.”
That chance meeting led to trading emails, then lunch as they compared notes about their experiences in losing a spouse.
Three-and-a-half years later, Carol and John Prince had fallen in love and, in 2015, married with the full blessing of their children.
Their perfectly blended family now includes Carol’s 92-year-old mother, Mary; Carol’s son, David, who was born at Northeast; John’s children, Josh and Candice Calderon, and, as Carol points out, “…three adorable grandchildren, Jacob, Eric, Jr. and Tony.”
Always goal-oriented, Prince earned her bachelor’s degree in administration and business entrepreneurship from the University of Houston Downtown when she turned 59.
She’s spent her 33-year career at Northeast mostly behind the scenes.
“I get so much satisfaction from seeing my leaders succeed in accomplishing their goals and knowing I contributed,” she said.
“The people I worked with at Northeast are highly skilled, well-educated and very intelligent.
“In my 33 years, I’ve seen many close associates come and go so change can be a challenge, but it’s also a fresh start and a new perspective.” she said.
Prince has always embraced change with a positive outlook and, now that change is coming to her own life, she can spend more time with her mom and her grandkids, travel to the French countryside and, most importantly, spend some all-important quiet time walking to the lake with her husband and the dog.