Rice admitted to Order of the Founder
by ROBERT DOCTER –
PREVIOUS ORDER OF THE FOUNDER inductees Dr. Robert Docter and Lt. Col. Check Yee share the stage with Commissioner Freda Larsson, Lt. Col. Hazel Rice and new Order of the Founder inductee Lt. Col. Eugene Rice.
Gene Rice, one of the world’s great Salvationists, a retired Lt. Colonel of The Salvation Army, a genuine, caring person in the footsteps of Christ, received the Army’s highest honor and was admitted to the Order of the Founder by General John Larsson in services with his fellow Salvationists of the Del Oro and Golden State Divisions.
Described by all who know him as a courageous leader whose lifetime has been consumed with a love for others, commitment to the ideals of the Army’s founder, William Booth, and completely genuine in every aspect of his life, Rice models the essence of total dedication to God and the Army.
“I don’t know how much longer I have to live, but all I want to do is God’s will,” Rice once stated to his Chico corps officer, Major Ray Yant, who noted that Rice continues to live out that desire daily in his interactions with Chico’s poor and the powerful.
Commissioner Linda Bond invited Rice to the platform and told the audience that one is almost overwhelmed with the dimensions of Rice’s love for people. “You can’t stop him from serving,” she observed. “He reaches out with such a boundless love for others–such a never-ending passion for souls. He demonstrates a model of Salvationism we all must strive to emulate.”
Bond noted that since his retirement in 1984 his work as a soldier has found him distributing the Army’s War Cry twice a month at Chico State University, being active in visiting the sick and helping the hurting. “It has been a hallmark of his ministry,” Bond said, “that he has gone where the people are and loves them where he finds them—in the bars and prisons—at hospitals and service clubs—in parks and playgrounds—homes and boardrooms. He is a constant encourager—an active disciple of Christ.” Bond then invited Larsson to share his own observations.
Larsson stated that he was aware of how well known and loved Lt. Colonel Rice is by his friends and fellow Salvationists in the West. “He is also well known to me and to those with whom I work at International Headquarters.” He then read the resolution that admitted Rice into the Order of the Founder–the highest award the Army bestows. With his final words appointing Rice to membership in the order, the audience cheered and applauded for an extended period.
Larsson then observed that in order to complete the picture on the stage he wanted Rice’s wife, Lt. Colonel Hazel Rice to join him on the stage along with two additional members of the Order, Lt. Colonel Chek Yee and Corps Sergeant Major Robert Docter.
Rice entered Salvation Army officership in 1939 from Pocatello, Idaho and was commissioned a year later and assigned to service at the Training College. His first corps appointment was in Eureka, Calif. He married Lieutenant Hazel Stevens on June 3, 1942 and, together, they led the ministry in other corps, climaxing at the Los Angeles Congress Hall. They served in a number of capacities on divisional staffs and led the Army’s work in the Southwest and Southern California Divisions. They served as leaders of the Training College, and at Territorial Headquarters where Rice served as Field Secretary for Personnel and requested as a final appointment, that of Territorial Evangelist. They retired from active officership in 1984.