Charles M. "Chuck" Rice

Charles "Chuck" Merton Rice, a longtime Idaho Falls business and community leader, passed away Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. While noted for his endless volunteerism and philanthropy, Chuck often stated that his greatest joy and contribution was in family.

Chuck was born the second child to Allen Buckner Rice and Ethel Kaake Rice in Whitmore Lake, Mich., on Jan. 26, 1925. Having graduated from high school at 16, he enrolled at Wabash College, where he ran on the track team and graduated with a science degree. Post-graduate work was recognized by the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology with a subsequent master's degree awarded in physics from the University of Missouri-Rolla.

Rice served his beloved America as a communications expert for the U.S. Navy in World War II.

In 1947, he married Mary Esther Buelteman. They had eight children from 1950 to 1960.

Chuck's early contributions included design work for the U.S. Army's ML-1 mobile low power portable nuclear power plant, management of the Army Gas-Cooled Reactor Systems program and the AEC/NASA Nuclear Rocket Program (NERVA).

After nearly a dozen moves, Rice stated that when he arrived with his family in Idaho Falls in 1969, he had found a permanent home. He was right. Chuck served as president and CEO of both the Idaho Nuclear Corporation and Aerojet Nuclear Corporation, with responsibility for management of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. In 1972, he founded the first successful technology spinoff company from the INEL -- Energy Incorporated. He went on to do management consulting in fields ranging from utility/regulatory disputes, nuclear power plant operation management and space defense initiative efforts.

Chuck was involved in professional associations over the years, including service as chair of the Technology Advisory Board of EITC; chair of the INL Citizens Advisory Board; member of the Engineering Advisory Council and a President's Associate at ISU; board member of Development Workshop Incorporated; fellow and charter member of the American Nuclear Society; and member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Also known for his community connections, Rice played a significant leadership role in the local Rotary Club, CHC Foundation, United Way, Bonneville Museum Foundation, Hospice of Eastern Idaho, SCORE and Idaho Foundation for Parks and Land.

Education and family were always paramount to Chuck. He was instrumental in encouraging and helping to finance the higher education of his children, grandchildren and many other family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three siblings; his oldest son, Greg; and granddaughter, Stacey Heim.

He is survived by his children, Jo Finne of Seattle, Gayle Eaton of Donnelly, Maribee Sovereign of Hayden, Steve Rice of Portland, Randy Rice of Idaho Falls, Mike Rice of Clarkston and Ginny Kuhl of San Clemente. He leaves behind his beloved 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

Please join the family for a celebration of life from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Willard Arts Center, with story sharing at 2 p.m.

To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Post Register on Sep. 8, 2013.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Add a Message
7 Entries
I knew Chuck a very short time, as I did some word processing for him some of which included his father's life history. He was as kind and respectful to me as he was to the VIPs with whom he worked. I have used him as an example of exemplary interaction and integrity. Best wishes to his family!
Gretchen Cotterell
September 11, 2013
Dear Rice Family.. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Debbie Onkes-Dobbe
September 10, 2013
I am so lucky to have known Chuck over my lifetime. He was a positive influence in my childhood, education, and professional career. I also know that he was a life-long friend and hunting partner to my dad. I know that Chuck will enjoy charred rare steaks and elk liver with onions in heaven.

You are missed by those you touched.
Misti Lillo
September 9, 2013
Patricia Schmunk sends her best to the family. I have fond memories of your father and of his family.
September 9, 2013
I am so sorry to hear that you have lost Chuck Rice. It was such an honor to work with him. He was an amazing man: bright, hard working, kind, and funny.
Wendy Green Lowe
September 8, 2013
From a former employee,1975 to 1977 at Energy Inc., I send my fodest regards for a great man. email: [email protected]
Dr. Robert Lyczkowski
September 8, 2013
Chuck will be so greatly missed by so many. He gave so much to this community and because of his endless passion, East Idaho is a better place. Peace and prayers to the Rice family.
Amy Lientz
September 8, 2013