Walter Ransom ‘Randy’ Rice Jr., 88, of Lincoln
LINCOLN — Beloved pastor, father, grandfather, and friend Walter Ransom “Randy” Rice Jr. passed away peacefully on Dec. 4, at Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Middlebury, Vt.
Randy was born in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1932 to Walter Ransom Rice and Leah Viola Proudfoot Rice. He attended Niagara Falls High School and was known as a top-level golfer and badminton player. Randy attended Middlebury College. In 1956 Randy married his high school sweetheart Suzanne “Sue” Belden Rice, and over 61 years of marriage they walked closely together in companionship, humor, and service.
Randy’s deep faith and sense of call led him into the vocation of Christian ministry. He attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. In 1964 he went to Mississippi to join in civil rights work during “Freedom Summer.” As an ordained Presbyterian minister, Randy served as a pastor in Amsterdam, Ohio, and Bridgeport, Conn. In 1966 he and Sue took their four young children to Seoul, South Korea, to serve as missionaries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Over 16 years, becoming fluent in Korean language, Randy served with the Korean people in mentoring young adults in their faith journeys, translating and writing Christian literature, and supporting Koreans struggling for justice in a time of military dictatorship. He co-founded the Monday Night Group, a story told in the book he co-authored, “More than Witnesses: How a Small Group of Missionaries Aided Korea’s Democratic Revolution.” In 2003, Randy, Sue, and other missionaries were honored in Seoul by the president of South Korea for their service to the Korean people.
After leaving Korea, Randy served in Oklahoma City as chaplain and drug and alcohol recovery counselor at the Presbyterian Hospital. In 1989 Randy and Sue moved to Lincoln, Vt., where he pastored one year at First Baptist Church of Barre, and over 30 years as Associate Pastor and Pastor Emeritus at the United Church of Lincoln.
Randy was known for his eloquent sermons, Bible and book studies, visiting the elderly, his warmth and wit (and puns), and the gentle power of his presence. Most of all, his life was an open door to people of all walks of life. In June 2020 Randy moved to the Eastview at Middlebury retirement community. While his time there was short, he quickly became known for his welcoming spirit.
Randy was a lover of language and writing and was steeped in the stories of the Bible and in literature and poetry. One of his greatest experiences was serving eight years as President of the Lincoln Library, co-leading the construction of the new town library after a flood in 1998.
Randy spread care and kindness to the multitude of lives he touched, most of all his family. He is survived by his sister Jeanne Rice Phelps and brother Charles Rice; his four children Rick, Chris, Mark, and Elizabeth; their spouses and partners Donna Mae Rice, Donna Wheeler Rice, and Yanine Chan Blanco; his five grandchildren Benjamin, Talia, and Christopher Rice, and Tarek and Mona El-Malah; and his godchild Emma Brewer.
A memorial service will be held in Lincoln, Vt., in spring or summer 2021. Cards can be sent c/o Mark Rice at #302, 131 Main Street, Burlington, VT 05401.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, memorial donations can be sent to the Lincoln Library Endowment Fund at 222 West River Road, Lincoln, VT, 05443.◊
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