Rev. John W. Rice; Father of Bush Appointee Condoleezza Rice
The Rev. John Wesley Rice Jr., whose story was told at the GOP convention by daughter and newly appointed National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, died at his home Sunday after a long illness. He was 77.
In August, Condoleezza Rice told the nation about her father’s experience registering as a Republican in the segregated South. The Democrats in Birmingham, Ala., turned Rice away in the early 1950s because he was black, but the Republicans welcomed him to the party where he remained a strong supporter.
President-elect George W. Bush knew Rice well and called to offer his condolences, Condoleezza Rice said.
“I was very lucky when it came to parents,” she said. “My dad was a darling man, and we’ll miss him tremendously.”
Rice was a longtime educator, minister, coach and mentor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Birmingham and Denver. He retired and moved to California in 1985.
“He was an awesome man, in the true sense of the word,” said Charlie Mae Knight, superintendent of the East Palo Alto schools. “He had such warmth and concern for mankind. He was always the peacemaker and kept me grounded.”
Rice served on a number of educational advisory boards. He also helped create a tutoring program at Stanford University and worked to provide parks and playgrounds for children.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, Clara Bailey Rice, a stepson, Gregory Stuart Bailey, and a sister, Theresa Rice Love.
Services will be held Friday in Palo Alto.