Lee (MacMillan) Rice(1925 - 2013)

Harrison, Mont. lost one of their most beloved natives on July 12, 2013. Bonnie Lee MacMillan Rice passed away in Ennis, Mont. after a brief illness. She was born on June 7, 1925 to Peter M. MacMillan and Mary Elsie MacMillan at the "Stone House," one of Harrison's first hotels, during a severe earthquake. She has been gleefully shaking the world since then. As the youngest of six children she learned early how to stand up for herself and express her opinion, something she carried on through her busy adult life.

She attended Harrison Public Schools and graduated as valedictorian from Harrison High School in 1943. Following graduation she worked at the Commercial National Bank, now known as US Bank, until 1947. Bonnie spent many lunchroom periods coddling the boys of Harrison into dancing and when they weren't available, she would join the girls. It is a love that she carried with her for a lifetime; she was dancing on Sundays just a short month ago. She bowled for many years and became an avid golfer when the family donated land to create Madison Meadows in Ennis. Bonnie loved a tournament and inspired all of us by golfing constantly, her last game on this Father's Day.

She married Robert Charles Rice a dashing young rancher from Cherry Creek on December 16, 1946. During their first year of marriage, Bonnie continued to work at the bank and Bob did a brief stint with the railroad. They lived a short period on Cherry Creek where Bonnie, laughing, recalled that their first home was a remodeled chicken coop. Bob and Bonnie returned to ranching in 1947 at her family home in Harrison. They partnered with her brother Woody for a brief time and then purchased the original home ranch in 1950. She was a vital component of the ranch, first feeding a large crew and then taking care of the bookkeeping. Although they raised grains and sheep, Rice Ranches became known for reputation Purebred Commercial Angus Cattle after they started their first sale in 1975.

Their first son, Greg, was born in 1949, followed by Barry in 1953. They worked as a family unit until 1998 when the ranch was split into three corporations. Bob and Bonnie became known as Dry Hollow and stayed active until Bob's death in 2005. They wintered in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.where they formed lasting friendships in the sunshine.

She was an active participant in community affairs and always loved a chance to celebrate with her friends and family from all over the state. Bonnie was the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of First National Bank in Bozeman. She was a member of Bozeman Formal Dance, BPOE Drove #77, Montana Stockgrowers, Community Cancer Drive (Chairman for 9 years), Harrison Presbyterian Church, Republican Precinct Committeewoman, Montana Cowbelles, National Cowbelles, Montana Angus Auxiliary, and Harrison Homecoming Club Chairman.

Bonnie liked to try her hand at the blackjack tables and spent many a holiday at the casinos in Jackpot and Laughlin. She was one of the luckiest ladies around when it came to winning things. One of her most unique winnings was a Shetland pony, complete with saddle that was promptly named "Lucky" and given to her first born grandchild, Collin, who was born to Greg and his wife Karen. Their daughter, Kristi, was the apple of Grandma's eye, a cherished only granddaughter. Barry's sons, Dan and Sam completed her world of grandchildren and she was proud to have them working on the ranch until her death.

She will be sorely missed by her extended family which includes Barry's wife Diane and her children, Dana and Dustin. Grandma was dubbed "Great Bonnie" by one of her great grandchildren, a title she surely enjoyed.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers and sisters. Her siblings were Earl MacMillan, Catherine Walbert, Leslie MacMillan, Woodrow MacMillan, and Helen Buyan. Her true soul mate was Bob, who left a huge hole in her heart when he passed in 2005.

She is survived by son, Greg and his wife Karen of Ennis; Barry and his wife Diane of Harrison; Grandchildren, Collin and Jessie Rice, Kristi and Rick Swandal , Katie and Brett Cunniff, Dan and Marvena Rice and family, Sam Rice, Dana and Jake Ankeny, Dustin and Tara Rowe. Great grandchildren, Kaleb and Keira Rice, Nicki Swandal, Callee Peebles and Brooklyn and Dane, Jace Swandal, Seth Swandal, Cameron Rice, Jordan Rice, Katelyn and Alexys Ankeny and many nieces and nephews.

Services will be held on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 11 a.m. in the Harrison Gym at Harrison. A luncheon at the High School will follow immediately after the service. A private family interment will be held at the Harrison Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the Bob and Bonnie Rice Memorial Fund % Harrison High School, Box 7, Harrison, MT 59735, the Madison Valley Hospice, or the charity of donor's choice.

Funeral Home

K & L Mortuaries
109 West Second Whitehall, MT 59759
(406) 287-3271

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on July 15, 2013