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Betty Jean Rice

August 2, 1920 March 20, 2012
Betty Jean Rice
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Obituary for Betty Jean Rice

To anyone who knew her, Betty Jean Rice, was a force of nature who spent her life making a difference in the lives of those around her. Through her efforts, she touched the lives, not only of family and friends, but of neighbors and total strangers in Michigan and beyond.

Betty was born in a log cabin in Deerfield Township, Livingston County, to Roscoe and Mabel Spalding on August 2, 1920. She distinguished herself athletically, lettering in three sports at Fowlerville High School, from which she graduated in 1938.

Betty married Wesley Franklin Rice on August 5, 1943. He was serving in the Navy in the Pacific theater during World War II at the time. Their four children, Kurt, Kathy, Ken, and Kerry Dean were born over the next ten years and remained close to their parents throughout their lives.

Betty was the very definition of a good Christian woman. Whenever a job needed doing, Betty was a willing volunteer and often a demanding taskmaster. A member of the Milford United Methodist Church, she was actively involved in the Methodist East Side Ministry of Social Services in Detroit, collecting furniture and clothes for the mentally ill in foster care and halfway homes.

For many years, Betty and her crew cooked hundreds of pounds of corned beef and cabbage for the the annual St. Patrick's Day dinner fund raiser for the church. She could also be counted on to make a meal for the sick or bereaved and contribute baked goods whenever the need arose. Her carrot cake was legendary.

In 1975, Betty went with the Red Bird Mission to deliver food and clothing to those in need in Appalachia. She was so inspired by that trip, she spearheaded an effort to help collect items to be donated to the Mission. In the late 1970's her efforts culminated in the establishment of Betty's Barn, a place where the Church could store donated items.

In addition to her work through the Church, Betty established and helped operate a nutritional center for senior citizens and Meals on Wheels for seniors in Milford. She worked on the Community Resource Sharing Program, assisted in Focus Hope's efforts, and worked at the local food co-op.

In 1979, Betty was recognized by the Huron Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, State of Michigan and the United States House of Representatives as Citizen of the Year for her work in and around the Milford area.

Betty was an avid and talented bowler, traveling all over the country with her team of "girls" into her late '70's.

She was employed most of her life. Her last, most challenging and rewarding job was at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, where her husband also worked for more than 40 years.

Beloved by her family, she doted on her children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She mourned the loss of her youngest son, Kerry Dean, in a tragic car accident in 2004. Wesley died just five months ago on October 30, 2011. It would be fair to say that Betty died in part of a broken heart.

Her great faith and peaceful ending on March 20, 2012, were a blessing, although she will be missed by all who knew and loved her. She is survived by her sons Kurt (Linda) and Ken, and her daughter Kathy; her grandchildren, Catlin, Erin, Tiffany, Kelli, Nathan, Kari, Peter and Clayton; and great-grandchildren, Cheyenne, Maddox, Colin and Maggie Mae.


Betty Jean Rice, age 91, died peacefully at home in Milford on March 20, 2012. She was preceded by Wesley, her beloved husband of sixty-eight years, on October 30, 2011, and a son, Kerry Dean (Janet) Rice. She is survived by sons, Kurt (Linda) and Ken, and daughter, Kathy (Mark) Dudley and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and dear friends.

Visitation will be held at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty St., Milford, on Friday, March 23, 2-9PM. A Funeral Service will be held at the Milford United Methodist Church, 1200 Atlantic St., Milford, on Saturday, March 24, at 11AM. Burial Greenwood Cemetery, Fowlerville. Memorials may be made in her name to Heifer International or Community Sharing.


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