Rev. Dr. Robert C. “Bob” Rice passed away peacefully into the arms of his Lord on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at the Hospice House of Southern Kentucky in Bowling Green, Kentucky at the age of 83. Bob was born on July 17, 1938 in Olive Hill, KY to Coy Marion Rice and Julia Williams King Rice. He was the youngest of four children, his oldest siblings being sisters who all adored him (and the feeling was mutual). At the age of 6, Bob’s family moved to Ashland, KY where he spent his growing up years through high school. So many of his best memories were spent at his home church of Ashland First United Methodist where he received the early building blocks for his faith. He was part of a group at his junior high school that started prayer services before school. One morning when he felt led to speak at one of these services, he knew full-time ministry was what he was being called to do. In the summer after his senior year in HS, his district superintendent asked him to fill in for a church near his home, Fullerton United Methodist (now South Shore UMC) that was without a pastor. That summer ignited his calling even more. After graduation from HS, he began his training for the ministry at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, KY where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1960. It was while in college that Bob fell in love with Vivian Lane Riley from Russellville, KY. They married following his graduation on May 31, 1960 and this year celebrated 62 years of marriage.
From there, he followed the lead of one of his best friends from his Ashland church, Billy Ray Jennings, to pursue his Master’s of Divinity at Duke University in Durham, NC. The newlyweds moved from KY to NC and had so many wonderful experiences and built life-long friendships with other Duke couples. After graduation, Bob went back to the Louisville Conference of the United Methodist Church in his home state of Kentucky where he began his ministry as associate pastor of Settle Memorial United Methodist Church (UMC) in Owensboro, KY. Their first child, Jeff, was born while there. He next served as senior pastor of Lewisport and New Chapel UMCs where daughter Mary Ann was born followed by Bennett Memorial UMC in Henderson, KY where daughters Sharon and Susan were born.
Bob’s ministry continued while serving as senior pastor of Jeffersontown UMC, Scottsville First UMC, Henderson First UMC, Elizabethtown Memorial UMC and Madisonville First UMC and as a District Superintendent of the Henderson and Ashland Districts. His last few years of ministry before retirement were spent as a Consultant to Local Pastors in the Office of Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY. Following retirement, he pastored the Mt. Carmel UMC in Adair County, KY for a year before moving to their retirement home in Bowling Green in 2007. It was in Bowling Green where he served as the Minister of Visitation at State Street UMC for seven years before his final retirement in 2014. In 1991, Bob received his honorary doctorate of ministry degree from Union College in Barbourville, KY where he served on the Board of Directors.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters and their husbands, Marcella (Jack) Holbrook, Madge (David) Coriell and Jo (Ray) Hodges and by nieces, Jeanne McClellan and Sue Holbrook Smith. Bob is survived by his wife of 62 years, Vivian Riley Rice; son, Jeff (Kim) Rice of Gallatin, TN and daughters Mary Ann (Bob) Layne of Brentwood, TN; Sharon (Scott) Dallas and Susan (Jon) Campbell both of Henderson, KY. He is also survived by his 11 grandchildren (and two grandchildren-in-law): Sarah (Jared) Sharp, Nicholas (Victoria) Layne, Sydney Layne, Ashley Layne, Jacob Layne, Kayce Dallas, Tanner Dallas, Mackenzie Dallas, Walker Dallas , Reagan Campbell and Reid Campbell. He is also survived by his first great grandchild, Connor Riley Sharp and several nieces, nephews, extended family and special friends.
Visitation will be on Friday, June 10, 2022, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at JC Kirby & Son Funeral Home, 820 Lovers Lane, Bowling Green, KY and on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at State Street UMC. His Celebration of Life will be held at State Street UMC on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 11:00 AM with burial to follow in Bowling Green Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy can take the form of contributions to the Kentucky United Methodist Children’s Homes in Nicholasville, Kentucky where Bob served for several years on their board; their home church at State Street United Methodist Church (Building Fund) in Bowling Green, Kentucky, his alma mater, Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Kentucky designated to the Religion Department or Duke University Divinity School.
Published by JC Kirby and Son Lovers Lane Chapel – Bowling Green on Jun. 9, 2022.