After a brave battle with Alzheimer’s, James D. Rice, age 91, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Smyrna, TN. He was preceded in death by his parents, William P. and Blanche A. Rice; siblings, Hubert (Buck) Rice, Robert L. Rice, Violet (Sis) Cummings, William H. Rice, and Wally J. Rice.
Mr. Rice’s infectious smile and kind, gentle manner will be greatly missed by the mother of his children, Margaret Rice; son, William (Buck) Rice and his wife, Nancy; daughter, Wanda Rice and her husband, Gian Paolo Carbini; dear grandchildren, Chrystina Rhys and Matteo Carbini; beloved brother, Lawrence E. Rice; caregiver and dear friend, Lori Zanussi; and many other cherished nieces, nephews, and friends.
Mr. Rice was born in Silverton, Oregon on June 10th, 1930. He would later move to Troy, Montana with his family where he would graduate as a lettered athlete from Troy High School. His patriotism and a passion for aviation, led Mr. Rice to enlist in the United States Airforce in February 1950 in Lackland, Texas. (He and his four brothers were all veterans of foreign wars: World War II, The Korean War, and Vietnam.) Serving his country for 30 years, Mr. Rice flew 291 combat missions in Vietnam and was decorated for flying extremely hazardous reconnaissance missions into fully developed typhoons saving countless lives in the Pacific Ocean region. With a mastery in C-130 flight engineering, Mr. Rice’s military career took him around the world to stations in Europe, across the United States, and Asia.
In 1976, he retired and moved with his family back to Smyrna, Tennessee where he had served the longest at Sewart Airforce base. In retirement, he was an active, lifetime member of VFW Post 8422. He continued as a flight engineer after retirement and was recognized in 1991 for flying over 15,000 hours on the C-130 Hercules. Personally, he was an avid golfer, enjoyed traveling, and spending time laughing with his family and friends. He will be remembered for his keen attention to detail, his dogged determination and his generous, compassionate spirit.
The family wishes to thank the exceptional, caring staff at Traditions and Avalon Hospice.