Only minutes before Monday night’s F-3 tornado, Karen Prince, 44, had been talking to her son as she and her husband, John, neared home after taking shelter close by during the first tornado, according to family. The couple had thought the danger had passed.
Just earlier that day, Karen was talking about her husband with co-workers at the Blue Cross Blue Shield call center in Huntsville.
“She actually told one of the ladies, ‘If something ever happened to John, I’d never re-marry. I can’t live without him,” Prince’s co-worker told The Huntsville Times, gulping back a sob. “That takes on a whole new meaning today.”
In the process of building a home, the couple was residing in a doublewide mobile home on Tipton Road in the South Lincoln area, family members said. It was that home that was blown from its foundation, scattering debris over adjacent fields. Karen’s father, who lives just up the road, found their bodies when he came to check on them.
The couple had been married 20 years, having met while Johnny was visiting his sister, who worked at Donalson Care Center. Karen was also working there at the time.
A native of Selfridge AFB, Mich., she was the daughter of Noble and Betty Sue Thweatt Howard, who survive. A Christian, she is survived by four sons, Andrew William (Candra) Hoeppner of Huntsville, Phillip Gregory (Tabbatha) Hoeppner of Fayetteville, Kenneth Cody Land of Taft and John Wesley Prince, Jr., of Fayetteville; grandchildren, Chloee Grae Hoeppner, Maverick Justice Hoeppner, Jordan Nicole Prince and Carter Vincent Prince; brother, Major Clark (Himeko) Howard of Germany and Kaven D. (Linda) Howard of Huntsville.
Johnny, a native of Lincoln County, was the son of the late Ollie Oliver and Beulah May Barnes Prince. He was a retired master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, employed by Lincoln County Public Transportation and was a Christian as well.
Survivors include four sons, Wesley Prince, Jr., of Fayetteville, Andrew William Hoeppner of Huntsville, Phillip Gregory Hoeppner of Fayetteville and Kenneth Cody Land of Taft; and four grandchildren, Chloee Grae Hoeppner, Maverick Justice Hoeppner, Jordan Nicole Prince, Carter Vincent Prince; brothers and sisters, James Barnes, JoAnn Barnes Jacobs, Mary Lee Barnes Keith, David Moore and George Oliver Prince. He was preceded in death by brothers and sisters, Buford Prince, Lela Prince Swinford, Ella Prince Gist, Jewel Prince Ellis, Doris Prince Pruitt, Laurene Prince Whitt, Margaret Prince, Bobby Barnes and Coy Prince.
Memorial services were held Saturday afternoon at Higgins Funeral Home with the Rev. James Barnes officiating.