By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
He traveled the world, but always found his way back to Clovis. His family was his world, but he’d always find ways to make others belong. And in a world of numbers, he always reminisced about the storytelling past he’d left behind.
George Prothro, a former instructor at Clovis Community College and managing editor of the Clovis News Journal, died Monday from cancer one day shy of his 63rd birthday.
Born Jan. 29, 1945, in St. Louis while father George was in medical school, the younger George quickly grew into his journalism career. A 1963 graduate of Clovis High School, he soon joined the News Journal and became its managing editor at age 21. He later became a reporter while he studied economics and business administration at Eastern New Mexico University, and also had journalism assignments as the managing editor at the Panama City (Fla.) Herald and as health editor for the Tulsa Tribune.
“He was probably one of the five best that I ever worked with,” said Scott Fischer, who worked with Prothro in Clovis and Florida. “I wouldn’t classify him as one of the greatest writers, but he knew a news story when he saw it, and he would dig until he got it.”
Prothro had similar passion for rock music, history, politics and numbers. The first two live on in his son George Michael, who is now a graduate student in archaeology at ENMU.
“He was the best father I could have ever asked for,” George Michael said. “He was always supportive of me and took a lot of care in my education.”
In his political life, Prothro was a strong conservative in his early newspaper days but became more liberal in his teaching career — a source of great frustration, joked grade-school friend Jack Fields.
“George and I used to argue about politics,” said Fields, a retired railroad worker in Flower Mound, Texas. “In fact, that’s the only thing we ever argued about, and we did that a lot. But we never, ever got mad at each other, except for temporarily.”
The interest in numbers helped him when he transitioned into another phase of his life, as a certified public accountant and accounting instructor at Clovis Community College from 1982 to 2006.
“He loved the teaching profession,” said his wife, Shirley Prothro. “He was a tough professor, but he truly enjoyed his teaching.”
And he enjoyed helping people. Shirley said countless students, friends or just people down on their luck lived in the couple’s house until they could get back on their feet.
Family members said he was strong in his beliefs, but even stronger in his will to live. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005, and the cancer spread to his liver following surgery. But his family said he never made excuses.
“He had cancer, and he never complained about his lot in life,” said his father, Dr. George Prothro. “He never complained one day about his fate and he handled the whole thing with dignity.
“He’s my son, but he taught me how to die.”
Her husband’s only regret, Shirley said, was getting out of the journalism field.
“I think he always still had newspaper in his blood,” the elder George Prothro said. “Until the last, he talked about newspapers and was an ardent reader of every newspaper he could get.”
No public funeral services are planned.