Rev. Wilfred Ernest Rice, Jr. was born in Umatilla, Florida to Wilfred Ernest and Dorothea Louise (Smoak) Rice on October 19, 1934. He passed away November 1, 2021, from complications from pneumonia.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Patricia Anne Arrowsmith Rice; his brother, Richard Leland Rice (Karen); daughter Catherine Rice; son David Rice (Karen); three grandchildren, Rachel Phelps (Tanner), Morgan Kopka (Nicholas), and Jonathan Rice; and two great-granddaughters, Harper and Lena Phelps.
Bill graduated from Miami Jackson High School in Miami, Florida in 1952. He attended college at the University of Florida-Gainesville, then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. During this period, he met his wife Pat in Tripoli, Libya. They were married on December 8, 1956. After serving four years in the Air Force, Bill went back to school to earn his D.O. degree from Lincoln Chiropractic College, Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1960. He and Pat then moved to St. Marys, Georgia, to open a chiropractic clinic. However, the call to return to military service was too strong to ignore, so Bill was accepted to the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and earned his commission as a second lieutenant in the Artillery and Missiles Branch in 1960. Military assignments took Bill to Italy, Vietnam, Nebraska, Texas, Germany, and finally Missouri.
Upon retiring from the U.S. Army in 1978, Bill and Pat settled on their farm near Bado, Missouri. In the midst of raising horses and cattle, Bill was called to ministry in the United Methodist Church. He attended the Summer Seminary Program at St. Paul’s School of Theology in Kansas City and served United Methodist churches in Raymondville, Summersville, Huntsville, Mexico, and Cabool, Missouri until 1994.
Bill enjoyed a life full of many interests: he was a musician, pilot, sailor, published author, teacher, hunter, fisherman, world traveler, competitive trap and skeet shooter, and an encyclopedia on old cars and firearms. He enjoyed regaling family, friends, and strangers with stories from his life experiences, especially over a good meal. Bill was immensely proud of his family, who love and miss him very much.
Memorials may be made to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, c/o Houston R-1 School District, P.O. Box 222, Houston, MO 65483.
Services were held Friday November 5, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. at Houston United Methodist Church with Pastor Roger Cary officiating. Burial with full military honors was Monday, November 8, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. at Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri. Services were under the direction of Evans Funeral Home. Pallbearers were Jonathan Rice, Tanner Phelps, Nicholas Kopka, Terry Flowers, Paul Smeltzer, and Sid Vanderveen.