Prude recalled as 'giant' in Beloit
The Rev. Dr. Floyd Prude was everywhere, all the time.
In his church, in the schools, on boards, councils and committees, with young people, with folks who were struggling and with local, state and national leaders.
Prude died Saturday at Beloit Memorial Hospital.
He leaves behind his wife of 48 years, Regina M. Prude, two grown children and an extended family of grandchildren, in-laws, nieces and nephews and other relatives.
He was only 69 years old, and his loss leaves an immeasurable gap in the community.
“I guess the best word I could use to describe him is as a ‘giant’ in the community,” said Barbara Hickman, a member of his church and the administrator of academic and equity affairs for the Beloit School District. “His belief was that we had to minister to and care for the whole person.”
Prude became the pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Beloit in 1973 and immediately became involved in the concerns of his church and city.
His obituary lists the accomplishments and associations he tallied up in his 36 years in Beloit.
He was president of the Greater Beloit Minority Coalition for 23 years; charter member and member of the board of directors for the Beloit 20/20 Development Corporation; founding member, treasurer and past president of the Beloit Community Minister’s Fellowship; board member and chairman of religious affairs of the Beloit Chapter of the NAACP; chairman of Beloit School District’s (E)Quality committee. The list goes on for another several paragraphs.
He won more than 300 awards and recognitions, including the State of Wisconsin Governor’s Award, the Salvation Army’s William Booth Humanitarian Service Award, Beloit Chapter NAACP Community Service Award and the American Baptist College’s National Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award. Again, the list goes on for several paragraphs.
He was driven by the notion that it was all connected—spiritual life, work life, home life and even school life.
“He believed you had to be concerned about the social and emotional well being of a person,” Hickman said. “He believed in becoming involved and reaching out to help people.”
Civil rights and the right to a good education were crucial parts of that mix, and he fought hard to make the world more equitable.
Hickman described Prude as “thoughtful and soft-spoken” but completely willing to speak the truth without reservations. That approach went for everybody, from young people in his church to hard-nosed businessmen.
He believed in collaboration and teamwork, the concept of “it takes a village,” Hickman said.
Hickman remembers a time of racial unrest in the local high school. Prude went to speak to the students, and in a speech that many of them remember today, he declared time and again, “We are the Purple Knights.”
It was a call for students to come together on common ground, and it worked.
In 1993, he talked to Gazette columnist Anna Marie Lux about his ministry. The occasion was the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
“I’ve always had a great love and concern for people,” the reverend told Lux. “When I look back on my life, I think that was the catalyst of my ministry.
“If this world is going to be changed, it will be changed through love.”