Marie Rice, 91, of Sonoma, died July 16, 2012. L. Marie (Clovis) Rice was born in Lindrith, N.M., on May 16, 1921, and died peacefully on July 16, 2012, in Sonoma.
Marie was the second of six children born to homesteaders from Oaklahoma, Charles and Eva Clovis. Marie was born at home and her first crib was a shoe box placed in a dresser drawer. Born premature, her father came in from the farm that day and discovered little Marie in the top drawer. Seeing the tiny baby, he asked his wife why she hadn’t buried her. The miracle for us was that very small baby survived and became the mother of Steven (Pat) Rice, of Columbus, Ohio; Kathy (Jim) Hughes and Douglas (Deborah) Rice, both of Glen Ellen. Marie is also survived by her youngest sibling, Theora Brown, as well as 23 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Our mother grew up poor, with only a wood stove in the kitchen for heat, where a bottomless pot of beans and cornbread was always cooking. She learned to read by candlelight and never shirked her duties sweeping the earthen floor or helping out with her four younger brothers and sisters. Mom learned a strong work ethic, which held true throughout her life. The family learned to make do with what they had and when they didn’t have money even for gum, they chewed tar. Mom always said that it was pretty good and lasted a long time. She was so proud of the certificate she won for the sixth grade spelling bee, and loved to tell how surprised the teacher was to find out this poor child was so smart.
Health circumstances led the Clovis family to sell their car and buy a horse drawn wagon and headed to Durango, Colo., where they settled and farmed the land. At 16, mom left home and moved to Needles, to work in her uncle’s bar. Later as a waitress in a local diner, she remembered serving Clark Gable and Carole Lombard who were traveling back to LA after getting married in Las Vegas. Mom said they were very nice people and seemed happy.
When mom turned 21, she moved to North Hollywood and was soon joined by three of her siblings. She had little money and got a job in an airplane factory. This “Rosie the Riveter” soon became a supervisor and with her attention to detail she discovered a fellow worker sabotaging the airplane parts he was assembling. Her suspicions were correct and the authorities arrested the worker before his actions caused harm.
Mom married our father, Bill Rice, in Los Angeles in 1946. They settled in San Bernardino to raise their family. Later in life they moved to Sonoma to be closer to Kathy and Doug. She was the source of love and comfort not only for her three children, but many of her grandchildren. She was a tireless worker who was known for cooking huge meals for extended family gatherings. She never sat down, seldom complained and always had a smile and a hug to share. We will miss our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, who enjoyed life and found humor even during her final days with dementia. She will remain in our souls and hearts forever.
A memorial service will be held at Faith Lutheran Church, Sonoma on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. In place of flowers, contributions can be made to the Memorial Fund of Faith Lutheran Church.