Norman H. Rice died peacefully at home Tuesday, September 28, 2010. He was born January 20, 1925, in Geneva, New York, and was brought home from the hospital in an open sleigh. He graduated from high school in Schenectady, NY and entered Union College there in 1942. In 1943, at the age of eighteen, Norman left college to join the US Navy. He completed his flight training, was commissioned as an Ensign and joined his two older brothers as World War II Naval pilots. After the war ended, Norman returned to Union College and then entered New England College of Optometry in Boston, where he graduated in 1950.
Norman opened his practice in Rhode Island, but always wanted to return to Florida where he had taken his pilot's training. In 1954, he opened his practice on Brevard Avenue in Cocoa. He was one of the first optometrists in Cocoa, and he immediately had a busy practice. He later became president of the Indian River Optometric Association, which included Brevard County.
In 1960, Norman was elected to the Brevard County School Board and served two terms on the Board. During these years, he was President of the Florida School Board Association and President of the Southeast School Board Association.
These were years of great growth in Brevard County, a dozen new schools were built and there was a need for a junior college in the area. As a member of the school board, Norman actively worked in the effort to make it happen. He made the motion for the initial funding to begin the building of Brevard Junior College, now Brevard Community College, and was involved in the hiring of the first President, Bruce Wilson. Through the years he actively supported the BCC golf program and in 2006 was inducted into the BCC Athletic Hall of Fame.
Among Norman's other accomplishments: building and operating a nursing home in Rockledge for over 20 years; serving as an active member of the Central Florida Council of Boy Scouts; a member and President of the Cocoa Lions Club; Trustee of the former American Bank and a member of the BCC Foundation.
Norman was predeceased by his former wife, Betty Ayala Rice; brothers, Howell and Chester Rice; and by twin daughters Patty and Leslie. He is survived by his beloved wife of 19 years, Phyllis; sons, David Rice (Cindy), Rob Clifton (Michele), and Mark Clifton (Michelle); granddaughters, Ashley Clifton, Victoria and Heidi Tonkery; and by great-granddaughter, Adalia Tonkery.
The family wishes to express its sincere thanks to his long time caregiver, Rolf Prothiva, to Jada Mitchell, Dorothy Nunnally and to the Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice team who cared for him in his final illness.
Friends are invited to celebrate Norman's life at the Rockledge Country Club at 4 PM on Monday, October 4, 2010. Services and burial will take place at a later date at Bosque Bello Cemetery in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
Anyone wishing to make a donation in his honor, may consider Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice, Central Humane Society, the Cocoa Village Playhouse or a charity of their choice.
Arrangements by family owned and operated Atlantic Mortuary, Rockledge 321-636-0869.