My Best Friend, Billy






The Official Obit

William N. Rice, age 73, died unexpectedly on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at his home in Ambler.

Born in Coaldale, PA, he was the son of the late William N. and Lucille Sara (nee Hoffman) Rice. He served in the Army from 5-9-1961 to 6-30-1964 during the Vietnam War. He was a Chemist, employed by Rohm & Haas Company in Springhouse for 31 years prior to his retirement in 1999.

Mr. Rice was a member of American Legion Post 933 in Hatfield.

He is the beloved husband of Maureen A. (nee O'Donnell) Rice and the devoted father of Eric (Peggyann) Rice of Horsham, Ceri Renee (Stephen) Galati of Mullica Hill, NJ, Cier Rice of Ambler, and Ricé (Brian) Ingram of Ambler. He is the loving grandfather of Shawn, Emilie, Adrianna, Kate, Spencer, Sawyer, Savannah, Skylar, Farrah and the late Shayla. He is also survived by his sisters Margaret Beltz of Bradenton, FL, Beverly King of Allentown, PA, Mary Row of Reading, PA, Dorothy Yost of Orlando, FL, Linda Herbert of Oley, PA and the late Betty O'Brien Of Orlando, Fl. & Patricia Garnier Of Yardley, PA who both died in 2012.


Cier's Eulogy

"I really don’t like these things, although I don’t think I’d want to meet the person who does. My dad & I often discussed how there was no point in going to them for the person who died, that it was all about comforting those still alive but for the 1st time in my life I disagree. Supporting loved ones is important & I am doing my best to do that but I finally get that it is also about honoring the person who died and Poppy deserves to be honored because he was a truly honorable human being.

Words were very important to him, their meaning and being true to them but he always believed that actions speak louder than words & whatever he couldn’t express verbally, he demonstrated through his actions 10 fold, like when he would be our “warmer” after baths & patiently comb through our long, tangly hair. He was wicked smart, honest to a fault, level headed, down-to-earth and the most respected person I’ve ever met. He was a tough nut to crack, but I’m pretty sure anyone who took the time to break through his grizzly exterior and actually get to know him was very glad that they did and thanks to my amazing mom, that shell got much softer over the years.

I’d like to take a minute to tell my favorite Poppy story…

My dad’s parents had company for dinner one night and all the kids were sent up to bed. Like most kids they didn’t want to go to bed, they wanted to know what kind of fun they were missing out on downstairs, so there were numerous trips down for one more glass of water. After the 3rd or 4th interruption my grandfather threatened, “the next child that comes down here is going to get it” and from what I understand, this was not a man who made empty threats. Unfortunately all those glasses of water had finally caught up with my dad and he had to go to the bathroom but he didn’t dare go back downstairs to go to the outhouse! Meanwhile… down in the dining room, one of the guests shockingly shouts out, “Ewww, I think you have a leaky pipe?!?!” To which my Grammy calmly states, “I don’t see how, we don’t have indoor plumbing.” Which sends my grandfather flying up the steps in a rage shouting, “What’s going on up here? Are you kids playing with that water?” But he is greeted by silence and all the kids still in their beds and the only evidence he finds is a small wet ring around a knothole in the floor.

I love this story for many reasons but most of all because it demonstrates just how much he believed in rules and following them but it was just as important to be smart enough to beat the system or get the job done even if it meant thinking outside the box or the hole as the case may be. This point was driven home on what I consider to be the most important night in the life of my relationship with Poppy…

I think most people would say that Poppy was a pretty strict dad. He had a lot of rules and you had to follow them to the letter, or the minute where curfew was involved, so we had to be cautious, creative, cunning puzzle-solvers to get around the system. Sometimes we got away with it, sometimes we didn’t but I clearly remember the 1st time my dad caught me sneaking into the house at 3:30 in the morning because after meeting my 11:00 curfew I had snuck back out at 1am. He was furious and delved out a punishment I thought was way too sever considering it was my 1st time getting in any real trouble. So I said, “Really??? A month??? For my 1st time??? I’m the good kid, I’m the one that never gets in trouble, I’m the one who never does anything wrong and the 1st time I do, I get a month???” And he sternly replied, “This is not the 1st time you’ve ever done anything wrong it’s just the 1st time you got caught!” Then he proceeded to rattle off a list of things I had done and rules I had broken in scary specifics. I finally asked in shock, “If you knew I did all that stuff why I didn’t get in trouble for it?” And he said, “Because breaking the rules, pushing the limits and experimenting are an important & necessary part of growing up so as long as you aren’t seriously endangering yourself or anyone else and as long as you don’t know that I know, I will let it go but once you know that I know, I have to teach you that there are consequences to breaking the rules.” He continued to say, “As a matter of fact if you hadn’t come in while I was down here getting a glass of water I probably would’ve let you get away with this one.” … Why does it always come back to a glass of water??? I tell ya man, those things are troublemakers..…. But I have never respected my dad more than I did at that moment because I no longer respected him out of fear; I respected him because I knew he was a good, honorable and fair man & father. That was the moment he went from being more than my father, he became my friend and he went from being Dad to Poppy. Thank you for allowing me to stray & find my own way but always being there to get me back on the right path. I love you Poppy and I will miss you."


Ceri's Eulogy

=== April 25th, 1969 (the day I was born)

Dear Dad, I need you. I need you for everything. You are the only man who can take care of me and fulfill my every need. I am helpless in this world, but you will teach me things and I will learn from you. You are my superhero and I will look up to you forever.

You play with me and are a very involved father. How lucky am I?!! If only other fathers knew how much joy you got from raising me and laughing with me, maybe they would do the same. You nickname me Funny Face, which we will dance to at my wedding.


=== April 25th, 1979 (I'm 10 years old)

Dear Dad, I am growing older now and I am becoming more independent. I am stubborn and opinionated (just like you) and I still need you, just not as much as I did when I was smaller. I don't need you to hold my hand when I am crossing the street, or to tuck me into bed at night, but I still need you to help me with my homework, appreciate the smaller things in life, survive in the woods with one match stick in the pouring rain, just in case we get lost in the woods while camping. I need you to teach me what to eat - which bark is tasty and which is poisonous - so I don't die if I ever get lost while camping. And most importantly, how to properly toast a marshmallow, even if it takes 45 minutes.

We will hunt for treasures - Oh my goodness, why are we picking the trash from my schoolmate’s house?!! You tell me that everything has a purpose, and one day, we will have the parts to build an amusement park on Ambler Road. And Mr. Fabiani even has the turnstile to start it. (I hate to say someone actually beat you at something, Dad)

I need money for school supplies. We will make everything from scratch. Dad - how are we going to make a ruler and compass? We learn how.

We go through every receipt from every shopping trip. We buy cans without labels, not knowing what we will be having for dinner. You return the money if the store has been shortchanged, even if it’s only a dime. If you overpaid, you never ask for the money back.

We have the best garden ever! I'm embarrassed that we have leaves stacked high enough to truly leap into the piles from the porch. I'm mortified when I have to stand out there, turning the soil, placing newspapers we took as treasures from everyone, into the ditches you made. I'm dying at the thought of you tying up your tomato plants with old pantyhose one more year. But, you share your bounty with everyone. The kids get off the bus and pick an ear of corn, or sunflower seeds for a snack. You teach them what kohlrabi is and tell them that if you prepare the soil just right, you never have to water. Your tomatoes are 4 lbs a piece and your cabbage is as big as Rice'.

People will eventually miss that garden.

Dad, everyone has a computer, why can't we get an Atari?


=== April 25th, 1982 (and now I'm a teenager)

Dear Dad, I don't want to ask you for help with my homework anymore. I just want to know what the answer is to problem #14. Why do you keep asking me if I understand algebra? Why do you make me start at "square one" and ask me what 2 + 2 is? Just give me the answer? I become so frustrated with you I just stop asking.

I'm 13 now, a grown woman and I have learned everything I need to know from you. In fact, I know more than you could ever know. Things have changed since you were a teenager; your advice is so out of date. I don't need you anymore, but thanks for the years you raised me. I'm a big girl now and I have it under control from here.


=== April 25th, 1983

DAD! Why are you still trying to reach out to me? You bought me a typewriter with a word processor for Christmas. You are leaving stupid messages on the screen for me. WHY? We aren't talking and haven't talked much for months. Why are you still bothering me? "Hey Ceri, I learned how to change the font to green, can you better that?" "Hey Ceri, look what I learned today on your computer! By the way, how was your day?"


=== April 23rd, 1985 (sweet sixteen)

Dear Dad, I'm not feeling good. Please come help me. Please get me to the hospital. Your first grandchild is on her way. I watch you hold her and cry.


=== January 7th, 1991

OMG DAD! I really need you. Stephen was in a horrible accident. Please come.



=== April 21, 1991 (my wedding day)

Dear Dad, Today I am getting married. I will no longer be your little girl.

You go on to watch me have 5 more children, and are present at each one of their birth days.

You are so involved as a grandfather, making it to their concerts, plays, softball games and school activities, even when you are struggling. You celebrate their lives with them, and begin to teach them the lessons you taught me.

I see you in part, in every one of your grandchildren.


=== January 2, 2013 (the day the music died)

Dad, I need you! Today is horrible! I was wrong! I don't know everything and there is still so much I need to learn from you.

Who is going to be my lifeline when I need one? Who is going to explain to me one more time what life is all about? Who is going to guide me when I'm struggling?

You lived everyday to the fullest.

We didn't get the Atari. . .we got so much more. You spent the time teaching us how to write our own computer games on the TI

Those messages you left on the computer for me, I now tell others who are struggling with their kids to send texts and tell them how patient you were with me. Step back and give it time.

You helped me deliver my first child.

You were sitting vigil with me at Stephen's bedside, no questions asked, and would just show up everyday.

You were the first person who was waiting for me when our last child passed away. There were no other arms that would have comforted me the way yours did. I always knew that in your arms, in the most desperate and real moments in life, you could take the pain from me and carry it as your own. I hear you did that with so many others. How did you carry so much weight?



=== January 5, 2013 (more than 300 people attended your funeral)

Dad, I still need you and you're not here. There is no one to replace you. I am - at this moment as I was as a child, incredibly helpless.


Billy was my best friend

=== Billy was my best friend
For 50 years Nina and I used to visit nearly every Friday night ...talking about the joys and problems of raising a family. Billy, Maureen and the kids have been my second family.

We played games, we played cards, We ate cookies or cake and drank coffee Then, Billy and I talked about everything under the sun

Our discussions often got loud and passers by used to think we were fighting. "No," Maureen would explain, "They're not fighting. That's just a discussion. They're having a violent agreement."


=== Billy was one of a kind.
His social skills were unique, based on logic rather than etiquette - more like Mr. Spock rather than Emily Post.

In fact, in grade school one of his teachers nicknamed him Weird Willie ... and Billy loved that. He thrived on it. He knew he was a one of a kind character. Just ask him, he'd tell you.

Every person he met remembered him.
Some loved him, some couldn't stand him ... but that was their loss.

However, unlike Mr. Spock, Billy had emotions. Oh, it took us years to help him discover them. But thanks to Maureen and his whole family Billy mellowed

Most of all, Bill was proud of his family ... Eric, Ceri, Ceir, and Rice' ...
... and of course he had tremendous pride in Maureen, after all he taught her everything she knows.


=== You all know about the kids names
... they're all anagrams of RICE.
What you don't know is I first suggested he use anagrams of his first name
Lil-B, ill-B, Lib-L, Bill


=== Billy and I talked endlessly
And we agreed about many things. But sometimes we argued that while we both held the same opinion, the other person arrived at his conclusion for all the wrong reasons.
When we disagreed about something, the conversation would go on and on and on ... late into the night.
In our last discussion the topic was not resolved and it got so late I finally went home. On the ride home I thought of a few additional points that were sure to win the argument on my side. So, as soon as I got home I sent Bill an email. I thought, this is a good way for us to communicate. There's no raised voices and you got the chance to really organize your thoughts to make a your point. A day or two later Bill sent me an email with his rebuttal. And then he died.

Damn it, Bill. That's not fair. But you got in the last word. You were my best friend ... I'm gonna miss you.


A Trip Thru Time


Cier is cheering for Billy as he preps the car for a camping trip

Springhouse Softball Champs

On vacation

Billy, Maureen, and Lucy - sittin' on a porch

Playing poker ... prepping for a tournament

Billy at the PC

2008 Happy Waving

2010 New Year's Eve

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