I was looking at my memories on Facebook and while looking through the beautiful photos of Chatsworth that I visited this day last December in England, I ran across some photos from several years back of a gentleman who would change my life in many ways. I met him in March of 2013 when I was hired to be his caregiver. He was 92 years old and was in his final stages of Alzheimers yet on his good days, his memory was sharp as a tack and he would tell me stories that are forever etched in my mind.
His name is Dr. William E. Prout but known as Bill to many of his close friends. I called him Dr. Prout . He was born on December 8th, 1921 in Huntington, West Virginia. He graduated from Russell High School in Russell Kentucky in 1938 and received his undergraduate degree from Marshall University before serving four and a half years in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His stories of survival during an invasion at sea while on the PT boat is one I will never forget. His life was spared when he prayed to God for help while the Japanese were shooting at the boat from the sky. A squall suddenly came up and they found refuge underneath the cloud where the Japanese could not see them. God answered the prayer that Dr. Prout prayed for he and his fellow navy men on that PT boat that day.
Dr.Prout was the Quartermaster on PT-191 in the South Pacific Campaign and earned the Presidential Unit Citation Award for Squadron Twelve, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze stars and the World War II Victory Medal. He also served as an Officer on the Destroyer USS O’Brian DD-725.
After returning to the United States, he completed his Master’s Degree from Marshall University and went to earn his Doctorate Degree in Physical Chemistry from the University of Texas in 1951 where he also became a Professor teaching Quantum Mechanics. Afterwards, he was recruited by E.I. DuPont to train at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady, New York before transferring to Aiken, S.C. in 1953 to join a team of 30 chemists and nuclear engineers at the Savannah River site which was only three miles from where I lived when i lived in Aiken. This team was successful in helping build the hydrogen bomb before the Russians did during the Cold War. Dr. Prout retired at the end of 1981 from DuPont after 30 years of service.
Dr. Prout was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. His great, great grandfather, John Prout was a soldier in the War of 1812. his great, great, great grandfather, Willaim Prout was a soldier in the American Revolution.
The very first day I met this man, I was introduced to him by his daughter-n-law. “Jane, this is daddy Bill. Daddy Bill this is Jane.” I held out my hand and said, “Its an honor to meet you Mr. Bill.” At that very moment, he put his hands on his hips and I saw it in his eyes. I felt a rush of fear flow over me as he sternly stared me down hovering at 6 ft five inches over this 5 ft. 4 inch little woman. He quickly corrected me, ” I am Dr. Prout to you!” I swallowed the lump finally and didn’t realize what I was up against but my first thought was to run and run as fast as I can. I still laugh when I think about that first engagement between us two. But I did not run and I am so thankful that I didn’t! Dr. Prout and I became best buddies by the end of that day and during those nine months of being his side kick as he called me, we danced to the big band music he had a nice collection of. He read his mother’s poetry to me and would cry, so would I.
The Alzheimer’s he was suffering finally took him down fast and furious in his last two months. I was the only one who could do anything with him as he would not allow anyone else to be near him. My heart was shattered when he left us and I will never forget Dr. Prout. I am entirely grateful for the opportunity that came to me when I wasn’t looking. I was only given nine months to take care of Dr. Prout, but before his death, he made me promise to take care of his wife after he was gone and I promised him faithfully I would. Therefore, I spent the next four and a half years taking care of his wife before her family decided to put her in a home.