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Mr. Sam Rice

Navy man, engineer, golfer, Irishman, chemist, church deacon, pilot, dedicated husband, dad and grandad and not necessarily in that order, Sam Rice, 92, passed away peacefully on Feb. 19 with many friends by his side.

Sam was born June 6, 1926, in Huntsville, Alabama, to Samuel Stone and Beatrice (Phillips) Rice. After lettering in football, he graduated from Huntsville High School in 1943. Sam became a Naval officer who joined the V12 program at the age of 17. He attended Howard College in Birmingham and Southern Louisiana Institute before becoming a Commissioned Officer at Northwestern University. He served in the Pacific in WWII as an officer and sonar expert on PC 1139 and continued to serve for 26 years in the naval reserve. Returning from WWII, Sam entered Auburn University to study mechanical engineering. Sam landed his first job with the West Point Foundry where he became an expert in textile and paper machinery.

He followed this posting with a position at the Keever Starch company where he studied starch chemistry, and formulation for fabric and paper. He was sought after for his knowledge in the field, working for a number of sizing companies during a career that spanned six decades. Covering clients from Texas to North Carolina, he became a pilot, flying a Cessna to cover the territory.

It was while he was attending Auburn University that Sam met the love of his life, Daphne Brown. Although both were engaged to others when they met, they were swept away. The pair was blessed with 60 years of marriage and two children. They raised their family in Anderson, South Carolina and later moved to LaGrange, Georgia, which was home for 16 years. Sam was a wonderful father who was very supportive of his children. He encouraged them and helped them to see they could be anything they wanted to be. Sam and Daphne moved to Auburn to join their former classmates before finally retiring to Gulf Shores, Alabama where Sam became an avid golfer and entertained grandkids with fishing, swimming and golfing. Attending the Golfsmith School in Austin, Texas, he learned the art of making golf clubs and made and repaired many a set for friends and family.

Lifelong Methodists, Sam and Daphne became founding members of St. Andrew by the Sea interdenominational church of Gulf Shores where Sam sang in the choir with Daphne and served as deacon for 15 years. The two were able to take several trips to Ireland, where they explored their Irish heritage and visited many castles.

It was there that Sam developed a love of a good bottle of Scotch. After Daphne departed, Sam moved to College Station to be closer to family and enjoyed an active social life with family and many wonderful friends at Crestview and Waterford.

Sam didn’t know a stranger and though he had no Facebook page, he held a wide circle of friends, manually you might say. Sam, you will be missed by a great many family and friends but ne’er forgotten. May the road rise up to meet you…

Sam was preceded in death by his wife Daphne Brown. He is survived by his son Samuel Patton Rice of Brookhaven, Mississippi, his daughter Allison Rice Ficht and husband Thomas Anthony Ficht of College Station, and grandchildren Hannah Sharon Rice of Covington, Louisiana, Sean Liam Rice Ficht of Richardson, Texas, and Eric Thomas Ficht and Penny Prochaska-Berg of Houston, Texas.

To honor Sam’s life, his family has planned a celebration of life from 1 p.m.  to 3 p.m. at St. Andrew by the Sea, a Community Church in Gulf Shores Alabama followed by a memorial service there at 3 p.m. A graveside service will follow at Pine Rest Memorial Park in Foley, Alabama.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the Baldwin County Boys Ranch at www.boysandgirlsranches.org/baldwin.html.

Please share any memories or tributes to Sam at www.hillierfuneralhome.com