Louis C. Pryor
1923 - 2020

Known for tackling issues that affect the quality of life in Palm Beach and beyond, Louis C. Pryor, a retired DuPont executive and Chairman Emeritus of the Palm Beach Association, died on November 24, aged 97.
Mr. Pryor retired to Palm Beach in 1985 and was a resident for 29 years before moving to a Lantana retirement community in 2014. While living in Palm Beach, Mr. Pryor was a fixture at Town Council meetings, either as an interested resident, as a spokesperson for the Civic Association, or for a few years as a member of the Public Employee Relations Commission. He was a member of the Bath and Tennis Club, The Society of the Four Arts, a founding board member of the Fellowship of Christians and Jews and a longtime member of The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.
"Louis was a man of grace and dignity, courage and conviction" said Ned Barnes, former President of the Civic Association on learning about his death. "He was passionate for causes that mattered to Palm Beach residents and cared deeply for those around him. As a role model and a friend, he inspired me and so many others to lead better lives."
While Mr. Pryor was at the helm of the Civic Association in the late 1990's, he formed a Beach Restoration Committee. Nearly all of the members were later appointed to the first Shore Protection Board when the Town Council took over the leadership role on that issue. The Association also promoted the adoption by the Town of a long term strategic plan which would ensure that the intrinsic, positive characteristics of Palm Beach be preserved.
During that same period, real estate prices across much of Florida were escalating at well above the cost-of-living inflation rates. This was particularly disconcerting when applied to the taxable value of homestead properties. Though this problem for homestead taxpayers lay outside the purview of the Civic Association, Mr. Pryor personally promoted a campaign named "Save our Homes" that sought to severely limit those taxable value increases. Success was achieved by obtaining permission for an appropriately worded state-wide referendum that later gained majority voter approval. That property tax limitation has brought welcome relief to homestead taxpayers and should continue to prevail in the future.
Mr. Pryor, born on June 28, 1923 in Argentina, was the youngest of four sons of American parents, John W. and Hilda Pryor. He was educated at St. George's in Argentina and Gresham's prep schools in England and subsequently graduated in business administration from the Henley Business School, University of Reading, England.
Though the draft in World War II did not apply to U.S. citizens living abroad, he and his three older brothers all volunteered to leave Argentina and serve the allied cause in different capacities. In his case, on graduating from high school, he volunteered to join the British Royal Navy because he was granted an open return passage from Argentina to Britain, an offer not matched by the U.S. Navy.
After serving in the North Sea as an ordinary seaman, he was selected to attend the Officer Graduate College. As an officer his further active service was in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, where two events were paramount in his memory. One was the May 15, 1945 Battle of Malacca Strait, the war's "last significant naval action", in which the Japanese heavy cruiser, Haguro, was sunk. The other was being selected as an Honor Guard Officer at the September 12, 1945 official surrender of all Japanese forces throughout S.E. Asia (close to a million). It took place in Singapore with the Japanese military leaders surrendering to Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, commander-in-chief for all allied forces in that area.
When the war ended in September 1945, Mr. Pryor was offered a permanent career in the Royal Navy and becoming a British citizen. Though tempted due to his positive experiences, he opted out and took the free return passage to Argentina where he joined the local affiliate of the DuPont company. Over the following decades he was appointed by DuPont to a wide variety of senior executive postings, domestic and worldwide. During an extended stint as C.E.O. of Australia and New Zealand, he played a leading role in the creation of an alliance of key business and trade union leaders, which thwarted a Soviet orchestrated "Cold War" scheme to infiltrate and essentially control the Australian trade union movement.
Mr. Pryor's temperament may best be illustrated by a key Winston Churchill precept he frequently quoted: "The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions".
In addition to his devoted wife of 45 joyful years, Joanna Osmaston Pryor, Mr. Pryor is survived by three children: Michael Pryor (Vivian), Andrew Pryor (Adrianne), and Jane Pryor (Diego Baudrix); stepdaughter Susan Wilmot (David), stepdaughters-in-law Nicki and Ann McDavid; nine grandchildren, eight step-children, and 14 great-grandchildren. Mr. Pryor was preceded in death by his older brothers, Keith, Hubert and Gerald, and by his stepsons Alastair and Colin McDavid.
He was dearly loved by family and friends and will be sorely missed.
A memorial service will take place at a later time.
Memorial donations may be made to the Palm Beach Civic Association, 139 N. County Rd, # 33, Palm Beach, FL 33480.
Published by Palm Beach Daily News from Dec. 4 to Dec. 6, 2020.
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