promoted to Glory
Lt. Colonel R. Eugene Rice, O.F., was promoted to Glory Oct. 7 from Poulsbo, Wash.
Gene Rice was born May 27, 1919, in Chelsea, Okla. He was raised in the local Southern Baptist Church where he accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. He graduated from Chelsea High School in 1937.
After graduation, he hitchhiked to Portland, Ore., to visit his older brother and sister-in-law, Captains Don and Ruby Rice, corps officers at the Portland St. John Corps. They had received a new appointment to Pocatello, Idaho, and invited Gene Rice to come with them and help with the youth work.
While at youth councils in 1938, he felt the call of God to become a Salvation Army officer. He joined the 1938-39 Dauntless Evangelist Session of cadets at the Training College in San Francisco.
Upon being commissioned a probationary lieutenant, Rice was assigned to the staff of the college as men’s side officer. There he met Captain Hazel Stevens, and they wed in 1942. Their first appointment together was as corps officers at Eureka, Calif., where their first three children—Steven, Marvin and Sandra—were born.
In 1948, their next assignment was to Bakersfield, Calif., where their youngest child, Sharon, was born. During this appointment, Rice undertook the fundraising to purchase property and construct a new corps building; it was completed and dedicated in 1951.
Rice’s further appointments were as Southern California divisional youth secretary; Los Angeles Congress Hall corps officer; Northern California and Nevada divisional secretary; School for Officers’ Training, San Francisco, general secretary; Southern California divisional secretary; and Southwest divisional commander. In 1969, he was appointed field secretary for the Western Territory, serving as such until 1975. He transitioned to Southern California divisional commander from 1975-1981. In 1981, he became principal of the School for Officers’ Training, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. The Rices’ final appointment was as Western territorial evangelists from 1983-1984. They retired in June 1984.
During his career, Rice received a number of recognitions. As corps officer at Congress Hall he completed a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Southern California. He attended the Brengle Institute in Chicago and the International College for Officers in London. In 1973, National Headquarters designated him The Salvation Army’s national representative to the World Congress on Evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2004 The Salvation Army gave Rice its highest recognition for extraordinary service, the Order of the Founder.
In retirement the Rices lived in Hamilton City, Calif., and were active soldiers of the Chico Corps. Gene Rice enjoyed taking War Cry to the California State University Chico campus to meet students and faculty and to share the love of Jesus. He enjoyed people and had an incredible memory for names. He will be remembered for his faithfulness in following up with people who otherwise might have been forgotten.
Failing health caused the Rices to move to Washington where their son, Marvin, and his wife could supervise their care. Hazel Rice was promoted to Glory in 2007.
In 2010, the Western Territory, then under the leadership of Commissioner Philip Swyers, honored Lt. Colonels Gene and Hazel Rice for their lives of loving service by naming the chapel on the campus of the College for Officer Training at Crestmont as the Eugene and Hazel Rice Memorial Chapel.
Lt. Colonel Gene Rice is survived by his children Steven (Connie), Marvin (Angela), Sandra (Dick) David, and Sharon (Jim) McCann, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Commissioner James Knaggs and Commissioner Joe Noland officiated at a memorial service at Crestmont on Nov. 10.