Bernice Millis Rice, a long-time resident of the Tar Landing community, died Wednesday, February 12, 2014, surrounded by loved ones. She was the daughter of David Thomas Millis and Nannie Junie Hobbs Millis and was the oldest of five children.
Born on January 31, 1926, Bernice worked at Camp Davis in Holly Ridge, where she met the love of her life, Bill Rice. They married on January 28, 1944, and farmed, oystered, and clammed together for the next 56 years. Following her husband's death in May 2000, she continued to be active on the farm, in Stump Sound, and working with her flowers.
A master in the kitchen, Bernice used all her pots and pans, and then some. Fortunately, she blessed herself with many hands to help with the washing up. The woman could flat out cook, and no one ever left her table hungry. She took great pleasure in producing some of the best sweets to ever pass through lips.
Bernice had a great passion for plants. If it flowered, she liked it. All her surroundings reflected her love of gardening, especially in the spring. Having her hands in the dirt made her a happy woman.
A good person with a loving heart, Bernice led her family by example. She taught them about courage, determination, fortitude, and generosity of spirit. Her family will miss her greatly.
Surviving Bernice are her children: Shelby Sperr (Ed); Pat Wolf (Mike); Bonnie Swartzenberg (Jim); Frank Rice (Kathleen); Jim Rice (Christie); Julie Mallette (Bruce); and Debbie Marshall (Brad). Her grandchildren are Ed Sperr (Amy Baldwin), Andrea Sperr (Jen Schmidt), Brad Sperr (Megan), Craig Sperr, Michael Wolf (Becky), Megan Willis (TJ), Jeff Rice (Rachel Coppersmith), Jenna Rice, Max Rice, Ethan Rice, Shannon Marshall, and Bradley Marshall. One grandchild, Christina Sperr, predeceased her. Her step-grandchildren are Paula Dukes (Jesse), Pam Freeth (Dan), and Monica Kennedy (Jeff). In addition, she has four great-grandchildren and five step-grandchildren, with a sixth who died before her. Bernice has two surviving sisters, Sarah Kelly and Hilda Hicks.
The family will receive friends from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 15th at Jones Funeral Home in Holly Ridge. Services will be conducted at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, February 16th in St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Tar Landing Road, Holly Ridge.
The family sends its sincerest thanks to the staff who helped Bernice in her final days at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the North Carolina Coastal Federation (Newport, NC) or St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Holly Ridge, NC).
To sign our guestbook, go to newbernsj.com.