The firm he founded is mourning the Thursday death of legendary local lawyer Robert Prince, who once helped save dozens of lives during a hostage crisis at a Tuscaloosa school.

The late attorney was a founding partner at Prince Glover Hays, and the firm said on social media that Prince "lost his earthly battle to cancer" Thursday.

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Prince was a high-stakes trial attorney of national renown but is probably best known for helping save the lives of dozens of school children who were held hostage at Tuscaloosa's West End Christian School in February 1988.

This reporter had the opportunity to interview Prince for Tuscaloosa Magazine in 2017 as the attorney recalled when James "Bud" Harvey and another man took more than 80 people hostage and started making demands that morning.

The duo, wearing ski masks and brandishing guns, asked for Prince by name as they began negotiations with police.

"Who wouldn't go? I would think any lawyer who got that call would have gone," Prince said in 2017. "I went in there with one goal, and that was to get the children out of there. I didn't care what I had to say or do."

Over the course of the day, Prince and future Tuscaloosa Police Chief Ken Swindle went to measures as extreme as securing a videotape showing a fake pardon from then-Govenor Guy Hunt and convinced Harvey to release more than 60 hostages before leading him outside for a "press conference" to air his grievances about homelessness.

The ruse got Harvey close enough for Swindle and other police to tackle him and take him into custody as police got the rest of the hostages secured without anyone being hurt.

"Bob cared deeply for his family, his friends, his clients, and total strangers who later would become beneficiaries of his generosity," the firm said on social media. "He was a consummate professional, a lawyer’s lawyer, and the kind of fighter that clients wanted in their corner."

"His verdicts, settlements, and results for his clients over his 50-year career are extraordinary and are too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say that both sides of a dispute often tried to hire Bob – it was a matter of who got to him first with a meritorious claim. Bob thrived in the courtroom and loved representing folks who needed a strong advocate."

The firm also said they would establish the Robert Franklin Prince Endowed Scholarship at the University of Alabama School of Law, where he was an adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy for more than 40 years.

The firm said Prince was a devoted Christian and is survived by his wife of 36 years, Dena, his four adult children: Mary Elizabeth Garvey, Courtney Walker, Will Prince, and Grace Prince, and eight grandchildren.

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