Steve Prothero Passes Away; Memorial Service set for April 20 at Cone Chapel

SALEM, ORE. -- Former Willamette University golf coach Steve Prothero, who led the men's team for 44 years and the women's team for seven years, passed away on Friday, March 1, 2013 at the age of 73. In addition to coaching the Bearcats, Porthero taught in the Department of Mathematics at Willamette for 46 years.

A memorial service will be held in Cone Chapel on the Willamette campus on Saturday, April 20 at 11 a.m. (PDT). Memorial contributions in his honor may be made to Willamette University for the WU Athletics Hall of Fame Fund, or to the Keizer Community Library or Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Prothero was hired as an instructor of mathematics at Willamette prior to the 1963-64 academic year and advanced to being a professor of mathematics during his career. He coached the Bearcats in men's golf from 1966 through 2009 and guided the WU women's golf team from 1995 through the spring of 2002. He was inducted into the Willamette University Athletics Hall of Fame in February of this year.

He holds the second longest tenure for a Northwest Conference head coach in one sport. He trails only WU's Lestle Sparks, who coached the Bearcats in men's tennis for 50 years (1925-74).

Prothero led the Bearcats to six NWC titles in men's golf (1968-tie, 1987, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2004). He coached six men’s golfers to a total of eight NWC individual title.

He also guided the team to eight NAIA District 2 Championships (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1988), with the team advancing to the NAIA National Championship tournament in each of those seasons. In 1975 and 1976 the Bearcats finished 14th in the nation.

His women’s teams won conference titles in 1995, 1996 and 1999. The Bearcat women’s team advanced to the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament in 1998 and 1999. He coached the NWC individual champion in 1999.

Prothero was born in Portland, Ore., and moved with his family to Hermiston, Ore., when he was eight years old. He graduated from Hermiston High School in 1957, and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Oregon State University. He received a master's degree from Oregon State in 1963.

At Willamette, Prothero was excellent at teaching, coaching and mentoring. He had a great sense of humor and was excited about the many teaching and coaching interactions he had with students, faculty and staff. He was involved with many committees to improve the campus community.

He also was active in Salem and Keizer. He contributed his time and talents to good use at the Northveiw Terrace Swim Club, the Keizer Community Library and the Cancer Care Unit at Salem Hospital.

Prothero is survived by his wife, Marylin, his daughters Pagie Reed and Valerie Prothero, and his grandchildren Logan, June and Maya.


Steve Prothero coached the Willamette men's golf team for 44 years and the women's golf team for seven years.

Steve Prothero coached the Willamette men's golf team for 44 years and the women's golf team for seven years.