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William David Rice

May 7, 1967 ~ January 5, 2022 (age 54)

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Obituary

It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our father, William “Bill” Rice. Wednesday evening, William Rice, Major USMC Retired crossed beyond Heaven’s gates.  In his final days he was surrounded by his closest loved ones including his wife Gina, mother Jackie, and children Taylor, Meredith, and Jack, his sister Kelly, his brother Darin, and his sister-in law, Karla. Our dad was a remarkable man and family man which also included his pets Simon, the basset hound and his newest companion, Achilles “Mort” the little orange cat. We could not have asked for a better father, husband, son, uncle, leader, or friend. When asked what was most important to him in his final days, he replied “My Family, My God, and My Country” which summarizes Bill’s life perfectly. He was a Marine’s Marine through and through!

Just as a preface, this has been written by Taylor, Meredith, and Jack, however many kind words were written by dad himself in his own memorial to his father from just last year, and from a short biography he wrote earlier this year. We are merely messengers of his great words to honor him and adding a few of our own to summarize his legacy.

Bill was born on May 7, 1967 at Camp Pendleton, CA. As the son of a career Marine Corps Officer, he lived throughout the United States and overseas. Bill, like his father, had a strong sense of competition and love of sports. He grew-up playing baseball, football, basketball and ran track and field. Bill loved his brother, Darin, and sister Kelly, who he shared an eventful childhood full of many moves across the world, including living in Okinawa, Japan. Bill and his siblings were always teasing and joking, competing, and enjoyed many cross country trips in the old mustard yellow Volkswagen station wagon. Continuing his love for sports, Bill earned a scholarship to play basketball at Huron State University. After a long year in the South Dakota cold, Bill transferred to East Carolina University in Greenville, NC to be closer to home. Bill joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity in 1986 where he made many lifelong friends and brothers. Bill graduated from East Carolina in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Most importantly, Bill met Gina, the love of his life, at ECU in 1986. The two married on August 4th, 1990 in Apex, NC which started the journey of their lives together. They enjoyed traveling to his many duty stations and growing their family.  The two shared the love for the beach and had plans to retire near the coast. Although Bill and Gina both enjoyed the outdoorsy stuff, Gina preferred to have running water and a bed at the end of the day where Bill was just as excited about a tent and campfire. Gina helped behind the scenes to make sure all his “bright ideas” happened. The loss of Bill will be deeply felt as she has lost her best friend. 

In 1989, Bill was commissioned an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. For more than twenty-one years, he served as a Marine Artillery Officer. He was stationed in Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Louisiana, Japan, Alabama, and deployed overseas to the Middle East, Central America, Asia, and Europe. Bill’s awards include Meritorious Service Medal (4th Awd), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2nd Awd), Combat Action Ribbon (Iraq), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (4th Awd), Iraq Campaign Medal (w/ 1 Bronze Service Star), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2nd Awd), Southeast Asia Service Medal (3rd Awd). The Marine Corps truly shaped Bill into the man that he is and his love for his country was evident in everything he did in his military career and personal life. His leadership is beyond compare, as he led with great strength, respect, and honor.

 He received his Masters of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology in 2007. He retired from active duty in the Marine Corps in 2010. Since retiring from the military, Bill has been employed by the Missile Defense Agency, at Redstone Arsenal, AL. ´╗┐Bill was the Deputy Project Manager for the Targets and Countermeasure Medium Range Targets (TCM).  As the Deputy, Bill performed numerous functions for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). These duties included the successful execution of two missions that were both complete successes. He was the essential conduit for target information to the MDA leadership team at the MIDOC.  He was also the cornerstone for the execution of over fifty system level reviews required for all eleven of the programs under his purview during the 4+ years as the Deputy.  He was the backbone of personnel management for the TCM Project Office, handling all awards and inputs to performance reviews of employees. He led the TCM team through system level integration efforts that resulted in target success during mission operations. He was instrumental in the management of the budget of the Project Office that was in excess of $1 billion dollars. Bill enjoyed his job and the people he worked with. He definitely preferred being in person at the office instead of virtual. Working virtually did have its perks as he gained two new co-workers, his pets who set up in the home office as well.

Throughout adulthood, Bill actively volunteered when needed: he served as a coach for numerous youth athletic teams for the kids (baseball, basketball, soccer, and volleyball); attending numerous dance recitals and competitions for the girls, attended hockey games and Friday night football, served an event coordinator for the Semper Fi Community Task Force (North Alabama), participated as a band dad as the 3rd Vice President of the Band Booster board of the Sparkman High School Marching Senators (even traveling for World Championships with Meredith) and most recently as the Treasurer for the Sparkman High School Football Boosters. He was truly present and involved in every event going on in the kids' lives.

One of Bill’s biggest loves was spending time with the Boy Scouts of America, most importantly to spend time with Jack. Bill’s own Scouting Career began more than forty-five years ago in 1975 until attaining the rank of Life Scout, in 1981. As an adult leader, Bill wanted to spend quality time with his son Jack. During his tenure with Pack 201, Bill served as a Tiger and Wolf Den Leader and three years as the Cubmaster. His focus was to make Scouting a fun, enjoyable family experience. In May 2015, Bill assumed the position of Scoutmaster with Troop 201 at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Madison, AL. Jack earned his Eagle Scout award in July 2020. Bill was there every step of the way offering advice and mentoring when needed.

Bill stepped up because in each instance there was an opportunity to give back to the community, serve youth, and most importantly spend time with his family. Bill enjoyed his annual pheasant hunting trips with his father, of which he was able to continue the family legacy and take Jack in Oct 2021. Bill loved sports and all things competitive including Carolina basketball, Nebraska football, the Dallas Cowboys, and more recently (thanks to the girls), Auburn football.

 Bill is married to his wife Gina of thirty-one years and they have three children, Taylor, Meredith, and Jack. Taylor (25) is a third year graduate student at Belmont University, studying to be a Physical Therapist; Meredith (20) is a junior Marketing major and Theatre minor at Auburn University; and Jack (18) is a senior and All-State football player at Sparkman High School.

Bill’s family was the most important aspect of his life. He planned many vacations to Disney, Hawaii, and even our big “out west family road trip” from Alabama to Montana just to name a few. Being the detail oriented person that he was, every trip was meticulously planned and always filled with fun and good food. Our annual Rice family beach trip to Fripp Island, SC was always the highlight of our family’s summer. We spent many days on the beach enjoying boogie boarding, building sand castles and digging holes (for Jack), playing games at the beach house, and enjoying Grandad Rice’s home cooking! Bill and Jack enjoyed woodworking together and grew Jack’s small business. This is one of the many hobbies Bill and Jack shared together. Bill also loved our pets and considered them just as much part of the family, including Simon the sweetest basset hound around; Mort, the cat, our newest addition and Bill’s nap buddy this past year; and Gina & Bill’s “first child,” Buster, the mischievous basset hound.

Bill loved his family above all; he reminded us constantly of how proud he was of each of us kids and that we were his greatest accomplishment in life. His love for our mom surpassed all; it serves as an excellent example of true love, companionship, and service to one another and we strive to have relationships as deep and meaningful as theirs. His short time on Earth has been filled with so many memories and we are thankful that he truly lived every second; he was present for every minute of his life and was still active and of course being his social self until the very end. His guidance, humor, wit, charisma, strength, leadership, and service will be deeply missed but we are comforted knowing that his love and memory will be with us always. 

Bill is survived by his wife Gina, mother Jackie, daughters Taylor and Meredith, son Jack, brother Darin (Karla), sister Kelly (Chris), many nieces and nephews, and other extended family whom he all loved deeply.

Bill is preceded by his father, William M. Rice LtCol USMC Retired who welcomed him into Heaven’s gates with a proud salute and a “Well-Done Son.” They are reunited in Heaven to protect us all, and to paraphrase the Marine’s Hymn, “ever you look upon Heaven’s scenes, you will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.”

 

            Sincerely,

            Taylor, Meredith, and Jack

 

 

 

 

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Services

Visitation
Monday
January 10, 2022

5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Spry Funeral Home of Huntsville
2411 Memorial Parkway NW
Huntsville, AL 35810

Celebration of Life
Monday
January 10, 2022

6:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Spry Funeral Home of Huntsville
2411 Memorial Parkway NW
Huntsville, AL 35810

Funeral Mass
Tuesday
January 11, 2022

11:00 AM
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
1055 Hughes Rd
Madison, AL 35758

Graveside Service
Friday
January 14, 2022

10:00 AM
Beaufort National Cemetery
1601 Boundary St
Beaufort, SC 29902

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