A longtime social justice advocate in Bloomington-Normal is being remembered for his commitment to helping others.
Jim Pruyne of Normal died last week at age 90.
Former Normal Town Council member Garrett Scott of Normal recalls Pruyne invited him to join an effort in Savannah, Ga., to register African-Americans to vote in 1963 when Scott was a freshman at what was then known as Illinois State Normal University.
“This was an unusual opportunity and it shaped me and all that I’ve done my life really,” Scott said.
Scott added that experience was soon followed by another seminal event in which they both participated later that year.
“The experience in the March on Washington left a gigantic imprint on the way I thought regarding what our country is doing and how our country is eventually going to get equal opportunity and equal justice for everyone, all races and all creeds,” Scott said.
Scott added Pruyne also encouraged Scott to run for Normal Town Council and campaigned on his behalf.
Pruyne served as campus minister at Illinois State University for more than 40 years. He also helped found the 24-hour crisis center PATH in Bloomington in the 1970s.
That happened prior to current PATH Executive Director Karen Zangerle’s arrival as a volunteer in 1984, but she recalled working with Pruyne on several issues, including domestic violence and homelessness.
“I admired him greatly,” Zangerle said. “I think that he had a lot of bravery for tackling issues that weren’t always the easiest or most popular, but he was very focused on doing what was best for people.”
A celebration of Pruyne’s life is planned for 11 a.m. June 15 at First Presbyterian Church in Normal.
Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Memorial Home of Bloomington is handling funeral arrangements.
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