Dear Friends of Westfield Friends School,
I write to share with you the news that after a long illness, William C. Probsting passed away Monday, September 20th. He was surrounded by family and in his Riverton home. Mr. Probsting, to his many students and their parents, served as principal of Westfield Friends School from 1974-2013. He and his family were longtime residents of Riverton, NJ. His grandmother and great aunt both attended Westfield Friends in the 19th century. His family helped him keep the school in operation after a devastating fire in 1977.
Westfield alums remember cutting Christmas trees with Mr. Probsting. They attribute to him their love of art. As he shared his passion for history and current events, students came to understand the world beyond their South Jersey home. He led the school through a period of growth and strength where school lore holds that families would call him to ask to reserve a spot in the PreK for their newborn child. He helped the faculty create programs that remain beloved within the program today, including the Buddies Program, Monday Gathering, Looking at Art, Quaker Fridays, and Meeting for Singing. He foresaw the importance of hands-on science for Middle School students and the readiness of Kindergarten students for formal instruction in reading and writing. He believed every student should grow in comfort with public speaking through regular performances in plays and opportunities for giving speeches.
Most importantly, Mr. Probsting lived his Quaker belief that every person has that of God within them -- that every person is an expression of the Divine. Alums know that he sought to cultivate their gifts. Further, he knew within himself that his role was to nurture that of God from within himself in service to the Westfield Friends community. Everyone always felt loved, seen, and known by him. Generous in spirit, Mr. Probsting always put others first. He epitomized the servant leader.
I know that you will join with me in holding his family and friends in the Light as we grieve this gentle soul’s loss. We take comfort in knowing his suffering is over. We will have time to reflect and celebrate a life well-lived.
As Mr. Probsting’s family makes plans for a memorial celebration of life, we will share that information with you. I know that many of you hope to honor his memory and legacy. The family asks that gifts in honor of Mr. Probsting be made to the William Probsting Scholarship Fund which benefits students at Westfield Friends School.
In deep appreciation for the legacy and gift of Mr. Probsting to the school,
Head of School