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Dr. William "Bill" H. Rice, 81
June 15, 1931 – February 10, 2013
Dr. William Rice, longtime St. Cloud physician and community supporter, passed away on Sunday, after a decade-long battle with Parkinson's disease.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at the Church of St. Paul, St. Cloud. Friends and relatives may call from 4:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 15, 2013 at the Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home, St. Cloud and also after 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the church. Entombment will be in the Assumption Cemetery Mausoleum, St. Cloud. St. Paul's Parish prayers will be at 5:00 p.m. followed by the Knights of Columbus Council 961 at 6:00 p.m. Friday evening at the funeral home.
Born June 15, 1931, to the late Arthur and Marguerite (Steadman) Rice and raised in Winona, Minnesota, he attended Winona High School and St. Mary's University. He received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska, College of Medicine and completed his internship at Broadlawns Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. He married Armilla "Millie" (Rysavy) August 21, 1954 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Owatonna, MN.
He served in the Army reserves and then as a Captain in the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska where he served our country as 'Medical Director of the Yukon Command', helping protect our borders during the Cold War.
He subsequently moved his family to St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1959, where he served the community for seven years as a Family Practitioner. He brought hundreds of babies into the world, healed the sick and tended the dying, all with a strong belief that God guided his hand. He often received after-hours calls for assistance which he patiently answered, black medical bag in hand, by performing house calls.
In the late 1960s he did a residency in Anesthesiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and returned to St. Cloud in 1968 as one of the first partners in Anesthesia Associates of St. Cloud, Ltd. Along with his partners, he grew the anesthesia practice significantly over 28 years, during which time he held many additional posts, including Chief of Staff of the St. Cloud Hospital, Chief of Anesthesiology, President of Anesthesia Associates, Assistant County Coroner, and Secretary of the Stearns-Benton Medical Society.
During the span of his medical career, he witnessed many significant advancements in the practice of medicine, including the widespread use of x-rays, cardiopulmonary bypass, and the introduction of the first commercial pulse oximeter in 1981. He deemed the latter to be the most significant to his specialty; by 1987 use of pulse oximetry had become standard operating procedure when administrating general anesthetic.
Having lost both his parents as a teenager, Dr. Rice felt honor bound to help those in need. He served on the boards of many organizations and institutions, all having a common theme of care for the needy (particularly children), education, and community support, including: Catholic Charities, Children's Home, St. Mary's University Alumni Board, St. Benedict's Senior Center, St. Peter and Paul School consolidation, Sertoma, and United Cerebral Palsy.
Ever involved in his childrens' lives, he was a local Cub Scout Master and Boy Scout leader. He helped spear-head the Cathedral High School (CHS) hockey program, and served as a CHS sports team physician. He was subsequently awarded the 'Golden Crusader' Award for his service to CHS. He was also active in St. Paul's Catholic church where he was a member of the church council, a bible study group, the 'Spirit Group', the parish 'Befrienders' program, and was one of the first lay Eucharistic ministers. In his early days in St. Cloud, he was an active member of the Knights of Columbus, and until recently, continued active participation in Kiwanis, where he was passionate about raising money for global programs for children.
He loved traveling with his wife Millie and they both cherished their annual family retreat to Gasparilla Island, Florida. He tried his hand at many diverse activities such as fly fishing, Bonsai tree growing, water color painting, photographing sunsets of the world, and wood carving. He loved gardening and was particularly proud of his roses. He lovingly handmade mantel clocks for each of his childrens' first wedding anniversaries – the continued chiming of which was intended to remind them of the gift of family, a safe home, and perhaps our obligation to use to the best of our abilities the hours we have been granted on this earth. Yet he was happiest and most fulfilled when with his family.
He is preceded in death by his twin sister Mary Rice and beloved brothers, Robert and John Rice. He is survived by his loving wife, Millie, children Dr. James & Ruth Rice (Brookings, SD), Dr. Steven & Sue Rice (St. Cloud), Mary & Carl Maijer (Edina), Dr. Thomas & Eileen Rice (West St. Paul), Cathy & Joe Kalkman (Eagan), Pat & Tom Hooley (Stillwater), William Henry II & Angie Rice (Lino Lakes), Ann and Randy Nelsen (Minnetonka), 24 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He spread his love so wide that he was able to have a unique relationship with each and every one of his grandchildren, influencing their lives significantly. He has left them with a legacy of belief in Christian faith and values, the importance of public service, respect for diversity, and selflessness.
He was a humble and gentle man who achieved much and impacted the lives of so many. He is loved beyond measure.
In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to All Saints Academy School (320-251-5295) or to St. Cloud Cathedral High School (http://www.cathedralalumni.org/support-chs).
Williams Dingmann Funeral Homes
1900 Veterans Drive St. Cloud, MN 56303
Published in the St. Cloud Times from Feb. 12 to Feb. 15, 2013