Wilbur Lamar “Steve” Rice, 96, of Lake Charles, LA, passed away peacefully at 2:30 AM on Thursday, January 19, 2023, in a local hospital.
Mr. Rice was born October 3, 1926, in Iola, TX, where he was reared on a farm outside of town. Upon graduation from Iola High School, Mr. Rice enlisted in the United States Navy where he served aboard the USS Chinqapin as a Radioman Third Class during World War II. After his discharge from the Navy, he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1950. In 1957, he married Betty Rae Coile and they began their life together in Lake Charles. Throughout his career, Mr. Rice worked in various places including Gulf States Utilities, Levingston Engineers (Vice President and Chief Engineer) and most recently for Agrilectric Power Plant, where he continued to work as a consultant until he was almost 90 years of age. Mr. Rice was a longtime member of First Baptist Church of Lake Charles, where he served as a Deacon, a Sunday School teacher and was instrumental in the design and construction of many of the church buildings. Mr. Rice coached American Legion baseball teams, including the Lake Charles Police Union on which his son Steven played. He learned to play the guitar at the age of 56 and played with the band Goldenaires for 15 years. He has continued to play through the years in many settings, including his family and friends, most recently at the Verandah. His passion to play and teach the guitar has extended to his children and grandchildren. Mr. Rice was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Lake Charles, where he received the “Kiwanian of the Year” in 2011-2012. He was involved in numerous benevolent events sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. Mr. Rice, along with his beloved wife, Betty, spent many weekends with their family, especially their grandchildren, at their camp at Toledo Bend. “Grandaddy” and Grandmother” treasured the many fishing and boating adventures with their grandchildren. Although his love for Texas A&M University ran deep, he loved his Lord and his family ran deeper still. As a parent and grandparent, he always put his family first in his life, seldom missing a sporting or academic event for his grandchildren. He will truly be missed by all who knew and loved him.
Mr. Rice is survived by his son, Steven Lamar Rice (Jill); daughter, Lori Nell Rice Moody (Scott); grandchildren, Weston Moody (Heather), Jessica Rice Maxwell (Stephen), Lauren Moody Rowell (Chad), Mary Moody Johnson (Steven), Tyler Breaux, Dylan Breaux, and Steven Rice; and great-grandchildren, Easton, Trenton and Alayna Moody, Luke, Andrew, and Samuel Maxwell, and Eliana, Samuel, and Elias Rowell.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 51 years, Betty Rae Coile Rice; parents, John Burbin and Sarah Adeline Rice; four sisters and two brothers; and a great-grandchild, Annie Ruth Rowell.
His funeral service will be held at 12:00 PM on Monday, January 23, 2023, at Johnson Funeral Home of Lake Charles. Dr. Scott Moody, Dr. Johnny Dammon, and Rev. Chad Rowell will officiate. Burial with military honors will follow at Consolata Cemetery. Visitation will be at the funeral home on Sunday from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM and continue on Monday from 11:00 AM until the start of the service.
The family would like to express their appreciation to everyone who had a part in his care, especially the healthcare staff of Avail Hospital, as well as Heart of Hospice. They would also like to say a word of thanks to the staff and residents at the Verandah where Mr. Rice has lived for the past 6 years.