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Zelotes S. Rice II

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Zelotes S. Rice II Notice
Rice, Zelotes S. II Age 89. Passed away on May 1, 2013 at Morrow Memorial Home in Sparta, WI. Zel was born on July 4, 1923 in Sparta to Zelotus S. and Vena (Hemstock) Rice. Zel grew up in Sparta, and after graduating from Sparta High School in 1941, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His undergraduate education was interrupted by service in World War II. Zel enlisted in the U.S. Army on November 11, 1942, and served as a machine gunner in the 75th Infantry Division. He fought in the Battle of Bulge and helped to stop the German attack and push back the Axis Powers in France and in Holland. Zel was wounded in battle near Colmar, France and received a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal, as well the Combat Infantry Badge, the Colmar Coat of Arms, the Belgian Fourragère, and the French Croix de Guerre for valor and bravery in service. After the end of World War II, Zel finished his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin and received a B.S. in Political Science in 1948. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1950. Zel passed the New York State Bar in 1951 and was an associate in the Wall Street law firm McCanliss & Early. In 1953, he moved to Washington, D.C. to work at the U.S. Department of Justice. Zel returned to Sparta in 1954 to practice law with his father and his brother, James W. Rice. Governor John W. Reynolds appointed Zel to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in 1963. He was reappointed as Commissioner of the WERC by Governor Warren P. Knowles and was a leading mediator and arbitrator, assigned to the most complex strikes and labor disputes in Wisconsin during that time. The Cornell University School of Industrial Labor Relations hosted Zel as an adjunct guest lecturer on its campus in Ithaca, New York. On September 18, 1971, Zel married Babette Lasker in Eau Claire, WI, and they had 41 wonderful years together. Their son, David Zelotes Rice, was born on November 14, 1972. Throughout his life, Zel was active in politics and was an important figure in the resurgence of the Wisconsin Democratic Party in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1974, he left the WERC upon his appointment by Governor Patrick J. Lucey as Secretary of Transportation. Governor Martin J. Schreiber appointed him in 1977 as Wisconsin's first Secretary of Industry, Labor & Human Relations. Zel left public service in 1980 and moved with his family from Madison back to Sparta, where he practiced law in the firm Rice & Abbott until 1995, when he joined Arndt, Buswell & Thorn and continued his practice there until the age of 86. During his years in private practice, Zel maintained his membership with the National Academy of Arbitrators and traveled the state and the country as a nationally renowned arbitrator. In addition to his legal practice, Zel was a business leader in Sparta. He was a founding member of the 1st Community Credit Union and served as a Director and as Chairman of the Board. During his involvement, the credit union grew to be the largest financial institution in the community. Zel was a member of a real estate investment partnership and built the Sparta Arms and Fairview Estates housing developments. He was actively involved in several family businesses in newspapers, cable television, and radio stations in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Zel served as President of Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting Company, which owns WCOW-FM and WKLJ-AM in Sparta, and WFBZ-FM in Winona, Minnesota. He was President of Monroe County Publishers, which owns and prints the Monroe County Democrat. Zel was preceded in death by his parents and his five siblings, Mary Ellen Rice Marzolf, John D. Rice, Patricia Rice Hoffman, James W. Rice, and Elizabeth Rice Ecker. He is survived by his spouse, Babette Rice, of Sparta; his son, David Z. Rice, of Portland, Oregon, and many nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be held at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Sparta on Tuesday, May 7 at 11:00 AM. Burial will follow at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Sparta. The family wishes to express its thanks to the members of the staff of the Morrow Home for their loving care. Memorials can be made to the Sparta Free Library and the Mayo Clinic Health System Sparta Foundation. The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with funeral arrangements. Online condolences may be offered at
Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 7, 2013
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