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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Rice, Charles E. & Helen

by Bobbie Rice
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Dean Charles E. Rice held the first Episcopal service in a bar in Fairbanks in 1903. Traveling with a dog team and an Indian guide he thought that Circle City would become an important city in the Interior. He served in Seward from 1910 to 1917.

The Rices were in a marine mishap en route to Seward when son Bob was two. Helen grabbed Bob, his bottle and some graham crackers. She slid down an oar and dropped to the lifeboat. They spent the night on the only available beach within miles. Helen asked someone to hold the crackers for her. In the stress of the moment, the lady ate them. Over the years of story telling, Helen was still very indignant.

They arrived in Juneau in 1920, and he served both Holy Trinity and St. Luke’s in Douglas, taking the ship Estebeth on some occasionally wild, stormy rides.

There were two sons in the family, Jack, the older, was an accomplished organist. Bob traveled steerage during his rebellious years and “hoboed” across the country by rail. When he returned, his father told him he could have traveled more comfortably using his clergy discount which was allowed in those days.

Around that time, a neighbor, Dr. Kaiser, brought home for his daughters an English bull terrier. When he learned the dog was deaf he no longer wanted it and gave it to the Rices. This was Patsy Ann. She was the family dog until she became the “town dog” of fame who greeted ships.

Bob was almost too old for World War II, but he was asked to help with the accounting. He went to Duck Creek, was hired, inducted, had basic training and got back to town three months later. After his first wife died he subsequently met and married Barbara (Bobbie) in Seattle and honeymooned back to Juneau on the Baranof. Of their two daughters, Brita and her children Johanna and Brent Vollenweider live in Juneau. Meredith Gray (Duffy) lives in Oklahoma where the sun shines.

Bob worked as an accounting administrator for the Veterans Administration, Bureau of Public Roads and Douglas Island Marine Station. After retirement, he drove a school bus and at his funeral several of his students were in attendance.