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Wesley F. Rice

March 3, 1921 October 30, 2011
Wesley F. Rice
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Obituary for Wesley F. Rice

WESLEY RICE -- SIXTY TWO YEARS IN MICHIGAN FUNERAL SERVICE



Wesley F. Rice, a resident of Milford for forty years, died in the care of his family on Sunday morning, October 30, 2011. He was 90 years old. Born on March 3, 1921 in Detroit and raised in Livingston County, Wes was the son of Park Raymond and Catherine (Adams) Rice. After graduation from high school, "Red," as he was known in his youth, joined the U.S. Navy in 1939 and served as a Navy Corpsman with the U.S. Marines in the South Pacific for the duration of World War II. He served in combat missions at Guadalcanal and followed the Marines as they battled on islands throughout the region. Between bouts of malaria and ringworm and other tropical scourges, Wes bound the wounds and saved the lives of young Marines in some of the worst theaters of war. By the end of his service, he was part of the nursing staff of Liberty ships ferrying the wounded between Hawaii and San Diego.

On a long weekend's leave he hurried home to Michigan to marry his sweetheart, Betty Jean Spalding on August 5, 1943 at the Justice of the Peace in Brighton before returning to active duty for the duration.

After his honorable discharge in October, 1945, he returned home to Betty and to a job as a mortuary apprentice at the Farley Funeral Home in Battle Creek, eventually attending Mortuary School at Wayne State University, graduating in the class of 1949 then reporting for duty at the Knickerbocker-Bates Funeral Home in Jackson. In his long career in funeral service, he worked at Savages in Standish and spent fourteen years at the Estes-Ledley Funeral Homes in Lansing and Holt and shorter stints at Foglesong's in Sturgis and Pomeroy's in Crosswell before moving to Milford in 1972 where he has worked with Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors ever since. Always a deeply compassionate man, Wes Rice was an exceptionally capable embalmer who regarded the care of the dead and their families as a calling and a ministry. As senior staff embalmer at Lynch & Sons for forty years, Wes prepared thousands of bodies for burial, assisted countless families through difficult times and oversaw the training of apprentice licensees from all over Michigan, leaving a legacy of professional excellence in mortuary care. Never comfortable with doing nothing, Wes never actually retired from the funeral home and even in the last year remained on call to the young funeral directors and apprentices who regarded Wesley Rice as their mentor and friend who could be called upon for professional advice or personal guidance.

A man of deep and abiding faith, Wes was a longtime member of Milford Methodist Church where he and Betty have been active with countless missions and initiatives including Meals on Wheels, the Redbird Mission, and Community Sharing.

As a navy corpsmen, an ambulance attendant, a lifelong embalmer and funeral director, Wes Rice could be counted on in the worst of times. And yet, for all the heartache, disaster and tragedy he witnessed, Wes brought to the wounded, the recently deceased and the bereaved his own calm, capable and courageous humanity. He was an easy man to love and admire; at work or at home, over cocktails or a poker game, in good times and tough times Wes always remained ready and willing to pitch in and do his part. Quiet and unassuming, dependable and loyal, he inspired others with his faith and hope and love. Even in death he inspired, enduring without complaint three weeks of hospitalization and intensive care following a fall he took doing his household chores. Like heroes of his generation he fought hard to return home to his beloved Betty, and when that was not to be, he let go and let God, coming home to die in the care of his sons and daughter, trusting that all things work together towards some good.

In addition to Betty, his wife of 68 years, Wes is survived by his sons, Kurt (Linda) Rice of Woodland Hills, CA, Ken Rice of Lansing, and his daughter, Kathy (Mark) Dudley of Topeka, KS. He was preceded in death by his son Kerry Dean (Janet) Rice. Also surviving are his grandchildren, Catlin, Erin, Tiffany, Kelli, Clayton, Peter, Nathan and Kari, four great-grandchildren, his Yorkie-Maltese, "C.J." and a host of professional colleagues, fellow Methodists, veterans and friends who mourn the passing of an exemplary man while giving thanks to God for his life among them.



Visitation will be at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty, Milford on -Wednesday from 2-9PM. Funeral services will be held at Milford Methodist Church at 10 o'clock on Thursday, November 3, The Reverend Doug McMunn officiating. Burial with military honors will follow at Greenwood Cemetery in Fowlerville. Memorials may be made to Community Sharing or to Heifer International. For further information phone 248.684.6645.

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