Lifelong Grand Junction resident Joe Prinster passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 89. In western Colorado, the Prinster family name and City Market are synonymous. Joe worked his entire career in the grocery business, serving as president of City Markets from 1978 to 1987. Through his business enterprise he provided food and jobs in our community, but he also did so through his extensive philanthropy.
Joe was an avid supporter of Grand Valley Catholic Outreach and was instrumental in the Prinster family donation of the old City Market warehouse at 1st and Main Streets so the growing organization could provide a larger soup kitchen and serve more people through a range of social services. In terms of jobs, he was a founder and leader in the Mesa County Economic Development Council (now the Grand Junction Economic Partnership) and the Chamber of Commerce – both organizations which generate jobs and employment in Mesa County. He was a man of deep faith, known for his daily Mass attendance at St. Joseph Catholic Church and great generosity to his parish and Holy Family Catholic School.
Joe was a founding board member of our Community Foundation, a long-time donor and leader. During our start-up years, our organization received a matching challenge from the Boettcher Foundation; if we could raise a certain amount of funds each year over a three-year period, Boettcher would give us $500,000 for our fledgling Community Grants Fund. We struggled to meet the match during the first year of the challenge. Joe stepped in and wrote a large check, allowing us to meet our challenge and, frankly, continue to operate. Joe was known for doing this – stepping up and helping nonprofits achieve their plans – quietly, modestly, regularly. We were a small $1 million foundation then; we are now $45 million in total assets, awarding almost $2 million in grants and scholarships each year. Joe Prinster was instrumental in our organization achieving this potential.
Joe and his wife Del were very involved in their church and the Holy Family Catholic School. A decade ago they established a designated endowment at our Community Foundation to support the school. A generous estate gift will increase that fund, providing a permanent revenue stream to the Catholic school for tuition assistance and retirement support for teachers, something that mattered a lot to Joe and the Prinster family.
Our Community Foundation has a favorite Winston Churchill quote: “You make a living by what you do, you make a life by what you give.” City Market and the grocery business are what Joe Prinster did to make his living; caring about Grand Junction, his church and his community was his life.