The USEA is saddened to report that Fifi Prime, formerly known as Fifi Coles, passed away peacefully and painlessly in her sleep on December 7, 2018. Fifi was the editor of the USCTA News (now Eventing USA) for 22 years taking it from a newsletter to a magazine and was instrumental in establishing the sport of three-day eventing in the United States. Fifi traveled all over the world to cover eventing at the Olympic Games, World Championships, and Pan Am Championships for the USCTA News and worked tirelessly to promote the sport. Her husband, Bill Prime, shares his memories of Fifi with us here.
Fifi was known as a consummate horsewoman, a lover of all animals, and the outdoor life. She rode her legendary horse Sparrow Hawk to many victories and later loaned him to the US Equestrian Team. Fifi was also an avid fox hunter, whipping in for the Myopia Hunt for years and won the Masters Medal a record seven times.
Fifi first met and dated William (Bill) Prime in New York in the late 1950s, skiing at Mad River Glen and Aspen. After Bill broke his leg skiing with Fifi at Sugarbush, Vermont Fifi continued to ski with another friend Charlie Coles. Eventually, Fifi and Charlie married settled in Wenham, Massachusetts. Fifi spent the next 35 years in Wenham where she became deeply involved in the equestrian world and particularly in eventing through both the USCTA and the Ledyard International Three-day Event.
Fifi and Charlie Coles eventually divorced and once Bill heard of this development he anonymously sent Fifi an article called “Sexy Seconds” clipped from an airline magazine, a Ph.D. thesis about people getting together with lost loves. Once Fifi saw the Warrenton postmark she knew exactly who had sent the article and she and Bill renewed their friendship. They were married by the ship’s captain in 1999 on a Williams College Alumni trip from Venice to Istanbul at 40⁰ 30’N and 26⁰ 50’E in the Dardanelles, with Bill’s classmate Bob Behr standing in as best man. There could not have been a more romantic wedding anywhere.
For Bill, the next 19 years with Fifi were the best years of his life. The couple spent a lot of time sailing in the Caribbean on Bill’s boat Prime Time, skiing in Colorado, fox hunting with the Warrenton Hunt, Williams College trips to Egypt and Russia and traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Botswana.
In addition to Bill, Fifi is survived by her son Charles (Carlos) Coles, Jr. and her granddaughter Padan Coles. Padan is following closely in her grandmother’s steps as an avid eventer.
The family has asked that donations in her memory be sent to the USEA Foundation in support of the organization’s mission to protect and preserve the future of eventing for generations to come.
Donations may be made online at USEAFoundation.org using the Donate Now button. Select “Securing the Future” from the dropdown menu and dedicate the donation.
Alternatively, you can send a check in memory of Fifi to USEA Foundation, 525 Old Waterford Road NW, Leesburg, Virginia 20176. A card will be sent to Fifi’s family informing them of your donation.
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This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In 2000 and with the support of Joan Iversen Goswell, the Worth the Trust Scholarships were established to provide financial assistance to amateurs to pursue their education in eventing. The funds from the Worth the Trust Educational Scholarship may be used for training opportunities such as clinics, working student positions, and private or group instruction, or to learn from an official, course designer, technical delegate, judge, veterinarian, or organizer.
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