Dr. William Thomas Rice, 97, died on November 15, 2019 following a brief illness.
The son of the late Eugene James Rice and Laura Lanier Rice, he was born August 12, 1922 in Savannah, Georgia. His family moved to Asheville, NC in 1925 due to his mother’s failing health. He graduated from Lee Edwards High School and joined the NC National Guard.
When World War II was declared, he was accepted for flight training in the U.S. Army Air Corp and commissioned a 2nd Lt. in 1943 and promoted to Captain in 1945. He was assigned to the Eighth Air Force and stationed in England. Dr. Rice completed 30 bomber combat missions in the European Theater and D-Day invasion as a pilot of B-24 Liberators. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. In 1945, he transitioned to Reserve status and was honorably discharged in 1957.
Dr. Rice graduated from Wake Forest College in 1949, and from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University in 1953 with an M.D. degree. He did postgraduate medical education in Internal Medicine at Baptist Hospital and Bowman-Gray School of Medicine, and completed his residency in Anesthesiology at Duke University Medical Center. He was a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiology, the NC and SC Medical Societies, and the NC and SC Anesthesiology Societies. He was a past president of the SC Anesthesiology Society. Dr. Rice served on the staff of Self Memorial Hospital in Greenwood, SC for 26 years. After his retirement, he enjoyed working with the NCAA Drug Testing program for nine years.
Dr. Rice was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, where he served as a Deacon and Elder and was a member of the John Knox Sunday School class. For many years, he served as a Trustee for the Greenwood Abbeville Library and a member of the Board of Directors of the Greenwood Little Theater.
Dr. Rice was married to his late wife, Katherine Graybeal Rice, for 68 years. He is survived by three sons and one daughter: William Thomas Rice, Jr. (Cynthia) of Raleigh, NC; Nancy Rice Powers, MD (David) of Greenville, SC; David Graybeal Rice, MD (Elaine) of Winston-Salem, NC; and John Lanier Rice, MD ( Mona), Asheville, NC. He is survived by eight grandchildren: LT Katherine Elizabeth Rice USN, Carolyn Powers Wiersma, MD (Nathan), Thomas Wesley Powers, Ph.D. (Virginia), Alan Lewis Rice, Alicia Kaitlyn Rice, Nathan William Rice, Collin Benjamin Rice, and Ian James McCoy Rice and four great grandchildren: Virginia Avery Powers, William Thomas Powers, Lucy Noelle Wiersma, and Isaac Nicholas Wiersma.
Visitation with the family will be from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 pm at Ashelawn Memorial Chapel on Saturday, November 23, 2019. A funeral service will follow at 2:00 p.m. with Rev. Darrell Graybeal officiating. Burial will be held in Ashelawn Memorial Gardens with military rites.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Four Seasons — The Care You Trust, 571 S. Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731.
Words of comfort and remembrance may be viewed or sent to the family through our website at www.ashelawn.com
Ashelawn Memorial Chapel & Gardens was entrusted with Dr. Rice’s arrangements.