Cover photo for William "Billy" Hutson Prioleau's Obituary
William "Billy" Hutson Prioleau Profile Photo

William "Billy" Hutson Prioleau

July 22, 1936 — November 7, 2023

Mount Pleasant

William "Billy" Hutson Prioleau

William “Billy” Hutson Prioleau, local cardiac surgeon and beloved husband, father, and grandfather, died peacefully at his home on November 7, 2023, surrounded by his family.

Born in Charleston on July 22, 1936, to William Hutson Prioleau and Sarah Whitehead Parsons Prioleau, he spent his idyllic and mischievous early life in and around the harbor, waterways, and woods of Charleston and Mount Pleasant with his friends and cousins. During those years he developed his passion for sailing which lasted throughout his life.

Although a less than arduous student at the time, Billy attended the Charleston Day School at the corner of Elliott Street and Bedon’s Alley in its earliest years with the legendary educators, Emily Tenney and Mary Stuart. Upon his eventual survival of grade school, Bill continued his education at Phillips Exeter Academy, the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, which he always said was his “favorite city in the world.” Bill was offered a position at the National Institutes of Health, but he chose to serve a year in the Medical Corps in Vietnam. Soon thereafter, he spent time in Leeds, England with Geoffrey Wooler, a pioneer in Cardiac Surgery, who trained many of the future cardiothoracic surgeons from around the world.

Shortly after returning to Charleston, he joined Peter Hairston, MD to form the first cardiothoracic practice serving the people of Charleston. He always felt humbled to have the opportunity to bring comfort and the hope of extended life to each patient and family. Upon retirement and with the prospect of time to finally pursue other lifelong interests, Bill developed his love of classical music by beginning piano which he devoted himself for the rest of his life. He also returned to an earlier interest in photography which led to the joy of capturing birds in their natural habitat, landscapes, and roses…another passion. Bill joined the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society where he was able to grow as a rosarian through mutual gatherings and later served as its President.

Being forever an avid historian, Billy joined other members of the Vestry of St. James Goose Creek Church dedicated to preserving its grounds, building, and cemetery for future generations. Eventually serving a period as Senior Warden, he published a book, St. James Church, Goose Creek, A Pictorial History.

A grateful and humble Christian, Billy was a member with his family at The Church of the Holy Communion where he was a long-time lay reader. He chose to expand the Outreach Ministry of the church by opening a free clinic two days a week. Billy often felt as though his experiences with his many patients there were the most meaningful of his life as he grew to know them and their families’ lives over the more than twenty years of his service there. 

He also was a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society at the University of Virginia, the Saint Cecelia Society, the Huguenot Society of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Society, among others. 

Billy is survived by his devoted wife of nearly 48 years, Patricia Rolfe Walden Prioleau; his loving children: Elizabeth Walden Prioleau Boyles (Robert), Helen Rolfe Prioleau Butler (Brian), and William Hutson Prioleau III; as well as his grandchildren: Robert William Boyles, Andrew Osborne Boyles, Eva Sheldon Butler, and Fae Parsons Butler. He is also survived by his brother, Philip Gendron Prioleau (Betsy); and niece, Phoebe Prioleau (David Anderson) and their daughters, Olivia and Sophia. Last but not least, Billy leaves behind two devoted furry companions, Daisy and Ewok. 

The family will receive friends Thursday, November 9, 2023, in J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. Downtown Chapel, 232 Calhoun Street from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. His funeral service will be held Friday, November 10, 2023, in The Church of the Holy Communion, 218 Ashley Avenue at 1:00 p.m. Burial will be private.

Memorials may be made to The Church of the Holy Communion Outreach Ministry, or to a charity of one’s choice. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William "Billy" Hutson Prioleau, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Thursday, November 9, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Friday, November 10, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Church of the Holy Communion

218 Ashley Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

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