Successful businessman and philanthropist, Wood Prince was responsible for modern upgrades and efficiency gains at the Union Stock Yards and the International Live Stock Exposition.
1914-1998 | Artist: Friedrich (“Fritz”) Werner (1898-1994)
Impact & Accomplishments
William H. Wood was born in St. Louis, educated at Princeton, and served as an infantry captain in World War II, before adopting the Prince name and the extensive business interests of his distant cousin, Frederick Prince.
William Wood Prince stepped into the positions of chairman of the International Live Stock Exposition and president and chairman of Chicago’s Union Stock Yards, in 1949. His leadership was so valued that he was inducted into the Saddle & Sirloin Club just five years later. Wood Prince initiated many improvements at the stockyards, which was losing business in the industry’s shift from rail to truck transportation. He built new truck loading docks and feeding pens, installed outdoor lighting and electronic scales, replaced swine chutes with stairs, improved sanitation, developed a manure composting factory, and raised the oversight of livestock handlers, to reduce animal bruising.
“Billy” Wood Prince also invested in existing facilities at the yards, renovating the Amphitheater to create the nation’s largest, air-conditioned exposition building in 1952.
When Fred Prince died in 1953, Billy Prince and James F. Donovan were named co-trustees of the multimillion-dollar F. H. Prince holding company. In 1957, Billy Prince was named president and CEO of Armour and Company, leading its diversification into pharmaceutical and chemical divisions.
Wood was also a director of Live Stock National Bank, the University of Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Did You Know?
It was while serving as a captain in the Army in World War II that he was legally adopted by Fred Prince to become the heir to his fortune.
Wood Prince was a former world champion in squash and frequent golfer. He also loved art and was responsible for persuading his close friend Marc Chagall to create the Chagall mosaic, a landmark in a plaza outside the First National Bank of Chicago.
Wood Prince was involved in several projects that sought to advance innovative technologies. He tried to develop technology that would allow new food products to be produced from a plant grown using sea water, and he initiated a cattle breeding project in the Bahamas in the hopes of introducing European cattle into the United States.
William Wood Prince at Chicago's Union Stock Yards 1953.