The Reverend Richard J. Rice

The Reverend Richard J. Rice


Let us remember with thanksgiving the life and ministry of Rev. Richard Jordan Rice, 87, who died on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 in Interlaken, NY. He was born on March 19, 1933 in Flushing, NY, the son of George Byron Rice and Thelma Aline Rice.

Richard graduated from Drew University in 1954, from Drew Theological School in 1958, and from New York Theological Seminary in 1973. As a seminarian he served as student pastor at Gaylordsville Methodist Church in CT, and Westhampton Beach Methodist Church in Westhampton, NY.

After he was ordained an elder in 1959, Richard was appointed to the following churches: Grace Methodist Church in Brooklyn, NY, Stony Brook Community Methodist Church in Stony Brook, NY, St. Paul’s UMC in Brooklyn, NY and First UMC in Newburgh, NY.

In 1980 he was appointed superintendent of the Metropolitan District of the New York Annual Conference, and in 1984 he became associate executive director of the United Methodist City Society, a position he held until his retirement in 1999. While at the City Society he oversaw the purchase and renovation of a new facility for Anchor House, a residential drug treatment facility for men and women in Brooklyn, and the renovation of Camp Olmsted, a camp for inner city children and a retreat center in Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY. After retirement, Rev. Rice served as interim pastor to United Methodist churches in Trumbull, CT, Katonah, NY, and Dobbs Ferry, NY. He served as interim superintendent of the Long Island East District in 2007-2008.

An enthusiastic supporter of church, community and academic organizations, Dick was president of the International Network of Biblical Storytellers, president of the Board of Directors of Anchor House, and president of the Drew College Alumni Association.

As a Biblical storyteller, Richard shared the story of Jonah in more than 400 churches across the United States. His Biblical Storytelling was often a highlight at NYAC events and allowed participants to see and hear familiar stories in a different voice and from a different perspective. His avocations included walking, magic and travel. 

For many pastors in the New York Conference, Richard was an assigned as well as unassigned mentor. Quoting a statement from Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling’s post on Facebook, “I was so fortunate to start out in parish ministry with Richard. He was so creative, he loved the congregation, United Methodism, and having fun while working hard. And, wow, did he work hard! I will be forever grateful for his friendship and mentoring.”  Richard was beloved by both clergy and laity, who have many stories to share.

Richard is survived by his wife, Nancy Lou (Booth) Rice; two sons, David Byron Rice (Barbara Beene Smith) and John Burton Rice (Cynthia Weiss); two daughters, Elin Ruth Dowd (Marcus Bizzel Dowd) and Martha Aline Epstein (Wayne Jay Epstein); and nine grandchildren, Richard (Byron) Rice, Samuel Rice, Aaron Weiss-Rice, Emilee Weiss-Rice, Aidan Weiss-Rice, Jonah Dowd, Emma Dowd, George Phillip (Melissa) Epstein and Juliana Epstein.

Funeral services and burial will be held at a later date. Donations in memory of Richard can be made to the United Methodist City Society or to Anchor House.