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Obituary of William Willett Prout, Jr.
It is with profound sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of William Willett Prout, Jr. at his home overlooking the Connecticut River on a beautiful fall day, October 24, 2021, in Essex, Connecticut after a fierce and courageous eight-year battle with multiple myeloma and other health complications including sleep apnea. Bill had an inextinguishable desire to make sure you knew just how much he loved you— and he never failed in doing so. It is that vibrant spark he had to continuously show his love and gratitude for those around him that will be missed the most, along with his wit and whimsy, which will have his friends and family laughing long after he is gone. In Bill’s lifetime, the thrills of entering the downhill at lightning speed at Lime Rock Park and the serenity of riding horses on a frosty morning in Kent or Sewickley were among his happiest moments. And by far his greatest joy was evident in the limitless love he gave his family and friends and they gave him in return. Born in New York City on January 12, 1946 to Virginia Uppercu and William W. Prout, Bill was raised in Greenwich, took great pride in his service to his beloved country in becoming a Marine, and in 1969 met and married his partner for life, Elizabeth Ann Leonard. After getting married, Ann and Bill moved to Ivoryton and later Essex where they beautifully raised their two children Ian and Ashley, the two greatest sources of pride in his life. Bill’s love of cars and horses— and the corresponding joy of teaching people how to excel in both fields— defined his professional career. At age 21 in his competition debut in auto racing, he shattered the hill climb record in New York in his stock Mini Cooper S, and in 1968 he set his first lap record at Marlboro in his Formula C Lotus. In 1975, Bill became the Chief Instructor of the Skip Barber Racing School, always so energized to see one of his students connect the dots and brake or accelerate at precisely the perfect moment. Bill then went on to successful careers with Callaway Cars and Bentley Motors Limited. In 1995, eager to find a way to share the love of race car driving with anyone who wanted to get on a race track, he conceived a track day program which his son Ian grew into one of the most prestigious businesses of its kind. The last chapter of Bill’s professional career returned him to his love of horses and working with people when he joined the Pegasus and High Hopes families, groups that offer therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted services to improve lives. Once again, through Bill’s delight in instructing, his patience, intelligence, and love of people and children of all abilities clearly showed the beauty of his heart and soul. Bill is predeceased by his parents and beloved sister “Pammy”, Pamela Prout Odgers, and his completely revered and adored son, Ian, the light of his life. They are together now. He is survived by Ann Prout, the most loving and loyal life partner in the world, and his beloved daughter Ashley Prout McAvey and her husband Ken McAvey and their two children, Bill’s two grandchildren, Elle and Reid McAvey, whom he never missed a day honoring and loving, his best friend Jeremy Dale, and countless beloved and dear family, friends, and medical care providers. The family extends heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Robert Levy and Hannah and Mary from Connecticut Oncology Group and their extraordinary team, Dr. Shane Ridge, Rik Ginty MSW, and to the many members of Middlesex Health who cared for Bill through the years. Gifts to honor Bill may be made to the Ian Prout Forever Fund, a fund benefiting the critical, life-saving work of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, at https://afsp.donordrive.com/campaign/IanProutForever or to the noble, enriching work of High Hopes at https://highhopestr.org/give. All are welcome to attend a Celebration of Life Mass honoring Bill’s indefatigable spirit and sharing gratitude for his beautiful soul on Friday, November 19th, at 10:30am, St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Church, 14 Prospect St, Essex, CT.