Clarence J. Pringle.
The Transit Employees Federal Credit Union (TEFCU) renamed its 2000 Bladensburg Road Northeast location the “Clarence J. Pringle Branch” in his honor. Pringle retired after 42 years of service as chairman of the TEFCU Board of Directors.
Patricia Hawkins, Pringle’s niece, thinks her uncle deserves this honor and is incredibly proud. “Being honored in this way while still living, validates the life I have observed my uncle living from day-to-day and can in no way be taken for granted, because his life’s impact has been so profound,” Hawkins said.
When Pringle found out the building would be renamed for him, he did not like the idea at all. “I voted against it,” Pringle said. “I was elected to do a job and I was just doing what it was that I was elected to do. I never thought I did anything that was extraordinary.”
The unveiling ceremony took place on June 14, and Pringle retired shortly after on June 19. “Our Credit Union’s story can be told about a man – not an ordinary man,” said Rita Smith, CEO of the TEFCU during her June 14 speech, “a man, who evoked a movement, rallied the troops, inspired us to think big, and challenged us to do great things.”
Born in 1929, Clarence J. Pringle, 85, grew up in a small town outside of Sumter, S.C. In 1953, he joined the U.S. Army and left after 21 months. That was the first and the last time he ever quit anything.
Economically, times were hard in the South so he decided to move to Washington, D.C. He began his career in D.C. as a helper at District Grocery Stories, a chain of grocery stores that at its peak had 300 stores in the D.C. Metro area, according to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. He then worked his way up to becoming a truck driver then was promoted to a clerk position.
Charles Pringle’s namesake TEFCU building. Photo courtesy of Patricia Hawkins
In 1963, he began working for D.C. Transit, now known as Metro. He retired in 1993 after working as a bus driver for 20 years and a station manager for 10 years.
Pringle was asked to serve in a volunteer position on the TEFCU Board of Directors in 1972 and served as the chairman for the first year, then again from 1974-2014. “When I started, we had three employees with about $3 million,” Pringle said. “Now there are two branches, about 35 employees and $98 million . . . during my time on the board, I think I may have missed one or two meetings, I traveled to conferences and meetings both nationally and globally.”
Pringle, now twice retired, is not staying still though. He said he plans to remain active as an emeritus board member, which only means that he just will not have any voting rights. He also plans to do work on financial goals, policies and procedures with his church, Carolina Missionary Baptist Church on Allentown Road in Ft. Washington, Md, where he has been a member since he moved to D.C.
Despite all of his achievements, Pringle said he would never complete everything he wants to do in his lifetime. “Life ends and your talents and gifts end when you die,” he said. “As I continue to live, I may discover some other things I need to do. For now, I just want to inspire people, if I could, and live a life of integrity and allow it to be an example to other people.”