James Russell Rice, age 77 of Sturgis, was unexpectedly called home by his Lord and Savior early Tuesday morning, April 12, 2011 at his home.
He was born Oct. 31, 1933, at the family farm on Fawn River Road in Sturgis, to the late Russell J. and Marguerite (Lockwood) Rice.
Jim was a lifelong Sturgis resident and a graduate of Sturgis High School with the class of 1951.
On July 5, 1952, he married Norma E. Morrisson at Sturgis Church of the Nazarene by the Rev. James Estelle.
Jim’s working life began on the family produce farm. For a few years, he delivered milk for Locust Lane Dairy in Howe, Ind. He worked with his father-in-law at Morrisson Cleaners in Sturgis and will be remembered by many for the years he worked at Carl Rehm’s Clothier in Sturgis. Following his years at Carl Rehm’s, he joined the First National Bank in Sturgis, where he held the position of manager of the bank’s Mottville branch. A job that allowed him to travel throughout most of the United States was district manager with the A&E Awning Systems. Jim retired from First National Bank in Three Rivers, where he held the position of branch officer of the bank’s Constantine branch, and he had taught banking classes at Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville.
Following his retirement, he had been working at Hackman Family Funeral Homes in Sturgis for the past 10 years, working at a funeral service just the day before his untimely death.
Jim had a genuine love for his Lord and was an active member of Sturgis Wesleyan Church, where he served as an usher.
He was a past member of Gideon’s International and Sturgis Church of the Nazarene, where he had served as Sunday school teacher and superintendent and song leader. For more than 30 years he had been a member of the Sturgis Kiwanis Club and had also been a member of the Three Rivers Rotary Club. Jim was always active, and some of his hobbies included collecting coins, traveling, camping, rose gardening, gardening and board games. He enjoyed the McDonald’s morning coffee clutch and writing poetry. His greatest joy was reading his Bible and time spent with his grandchildren, whether going to tractor pulls, train-watching or watching Andrew bowl his perfect 300 game, or just time conversing and enjoying their company.
In 1988, he was awarded a Citation of Appreciation from the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department and the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners for his assistance with a personal injury accident which saved a life and was later awarded a Medal of Valor from Kiwanis International for giving dramatic meaning to the concept of the assumption of individual responsibility.
He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Norma, three children, Ron (Helma) Rice of Sturgis, Raejean (Gary) Klopfenstein of Howe, Ind., and Randall (Carol) Rice of Sturgis; six grandchildren, staff sergeant Jeremy Rice, stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., with the U.S. Army, Veteran U.S. Marine Corp Sergeant James (Sarah Phillips) Rice, III of Belleville, Christopher Rice of Three Rivers, Andrew Klopfenstein of Howe, Katelyn Rice of Sturgis and Anthony Rice of Sturgis; one brother, David Rice of Missouri; one half-sister, Naomi of Michigan; and several nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Thursday and 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday at the Hackman Family Funeral Homes – Hackman Chapel, 114 S. Nottawa St., Sturgis.
Funeral services celebrating the life of James R. Rice will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Sturgis Wesleyan Church. The Rev. Steve Bean and the Rev. Erwin Self will officiate. A graveside committal will follow the service at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Sturgis.
The family suggests those wishing to make a memorial donation in Mr. Rice’s memory consider the Sturgis Wesleyan Church, 907 N. Nottawa St., Sturgis, MI 49091 or the Gideon’s International, 140 Portage Ave., Three Rivers, MI 49093.
His obituary is also at www.hackmanfamilyfunealhome.com, where personal messages of support may be left for the family.