Donald Delbert Rice

1932 - 2021

Donald Rice, a pianist and improvisitory player of hymns and sacred music, was recognized for his natural talent in music and skill as a pianist wherever he lived and worked. He most recently was retired and living in Chatanooga, Tennessee. He worked primarily as a nurse, pastor, and Bible, biology, and history teacher at Adelphian Academy in Michigan and as a multi-subject elementary classroom teacher for over 36 years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In his career, he  taught at all levels, from preschool to college.

Rice was born on April 21, 1932, in Englewood, California, one of two children and the only son of Carrol Icis Smith and Donald Edwin Rice. He grew up in Los Angeles, where he studied piano beginning at age ten. Following a brief period of study, he learned the principles of music theory and then practiced daily on his own.

He developed a method for reading and playing chords using simple finger patterns which when slightly altered would result in 9th, 11th, 13th, augmented, diminished and other complex chords without having to memorize the specific notes in all the chords. He was soon in demand, frequently playing special music at weddings, funerals, and church services.

In high school, his Latin teacher, Nellie Cronkhite, a favorite teacher, ignited an interest in and love of ancient history and music. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Rice graduated from La Sierra College, now University, in 1956 with a B.A. in theology. He then completed a master's degree in Bible and systematic theology in 1957 at Potomac University, later the Theological Seminary at Andrews University.

Rice did additional study at the University of Southern California, AU, Eastern Michigan University, University of Michigan, University of Arkansas, Southern Arkansas University, Southern Adventist University, Wake Technical College, and Northeast Alabama College. He completed an Ed.D. in secondary education at Brigham Young University in 1986, graduating with Phi Kappa Phi scholastic honors. His dissertation was titled A Description of the SDA School Boards of the Iowa and Missouri Conferences.

While an undergraduate at LSC, he married June Elaine Dyer on June 6, 1955. They would adopt and raise six children, Dawn Elaine, Dean Eric, Dennis Eugene, Daniel Eric, Douglas Edward, and Deborah Eileen, before having a biological child, Dorothy Erlinda. All seven children took piano lessons, with some continuing to play that instrument while others continued in music by playing guitar, flute, clarinet or violin. June, who was a World War II prisoner of war in the Philippines and gave talks about that experience, was a pianist and organist. The Rices were foster parents for over fifty years and cared for more than 180 children, placing them in SDA homesShe died on November 6, 2018, at age 86. 

Donald was living in Chatanooga, when died on January 11, 2021, at age 88. 


Source: Information provided by Donald Rice, September-November 2010, June 2011, May 2012, December 2013, and April 2017; Debbie Rice Richmond, 2021; numerous online sources; personal knowledge.