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Conservationist who helped defeat Disney theme park in Haymarket dies at 70

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'Freddy' Prince with his wife, Diana. Photo courtesy Prince Charitable Trusts

Frederick Henry Prince IV, a philanthropist and devoted conservationist who was a principal figure in keeping the Walt Disney Company from building a historic theme park in the Haymarket area in the early 1990s, died on Dec. 16, at his home in Georgetown from complications resulting from Parkinson's Disease. He was 70.

Mr. Prince, known to his friends and family as Freddy, had homes at Phantom Fox Farm on Prince Road (named after his grandfather) in Marshall, Washington D.C. and Newport, Rhode Island. He was surrounded by family at the time of his death.

Formerly the co-trustee of the Frederick Henry Prince 1932 Trust, Chairman of CMD Corporation and co-managing partner of F.H. Prince & Co, Inc., he grew the company from a family-owned concern into an extremely successful business that attracted the backing of first-rate institutional investors.

For 40 years, he served as co-trustee of the Prince Charitable Trusts. Working with the Piedmont Environmental Council, Mr. Prince helped form the community of grassroots activists who were instrumental in preventing "Disney's America” in Prince William County. It was considered by many to be a culturally insensitive historic theme park, from encouraging unchecked development, tarnishing hallowed Civil War Battlefields, and obliterating the splendor of the Virginia countryside.

The impact of Mr. Prince's ongoing support spurred the "smart growth" crusade in the Washington metropolitan area. This left a legacy of activism, alliance and the eventual protection of over 350,000 acres of land.

In Rhode Island, Mr. Prince's backing helped revive the Aquidneck Land Trust which led to the conservation of 2,500 acres of open space, equal to 10 per cent of the entire island. Another focus of his philanthropy was the morale of hospital staff and other caregivers. He helped to establish a protocol for the high-risk group of caregivers who attend scenes of disasters involving children.

Frederick H. Prince was born in Lausanne, Switzerland on July 8, 1947, the only son of Helen Elizabeth Peirce and Frederick Prince III of Boston. He graduated from the Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. in 1965 and Columbia University in 1969.

He married Diana Armour Cochrane on Feb. 14, 1970 in New York City. Through his father, Mr. Prince was descended from the Oxford-educated Reverend John Prince who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1633.

Another ancestor, Frederick Octavius Prince, was mayor of Boston. Mr. Prince's namesake and great grandfather was a renowned financier and early investor in railroads. He served as chairman of the board of the Union Stock Yard, the Transit Company of Chicago and, in the 1920s, was a director of Armour & Co.

Mr. Prince's great-uncle, Norman Prince, and grandfather, Frederick Prince Jr., were two of the original 37 members of the Lafayette Escadrille, a group of American volunteer pilots in World War I whose exploits helped to turn the tide of U.S. opinion towards entering the war.

Mr. Prince was an avid sportsman. He was a member of the Orange County Hunt and enjoyed watching the hounds work. He was a founder of Prince's Court in McLean, the first Court Tennis facility to be built in the U.S. in 74 years which also bore his family name.

Mr. Prince was an avid skier in the winter and enthusiastic windsurfer in the summer. A long-standing governor of the Spouting Rock Beach Association in Newport, he was a member of the Brook Club in New York City, the Racquet Club in New York and Chicago, as well as the Reading Room in Newport.

He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Diana Prince, a sister, Elizabeth Prince de Ramel, a daughter, Daisy Prince Chisholm (Hugh Chisholm), a son, Octavius Prince, and two grandchildren, Horatio Chisholm and Theodore Chisholm.

Funeral services will be held at Christ Church in Georgetown on Friday, Jan. 5 at 4 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to the Piedmont Environmental Council ( or the Newport Preservation Society (

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