The University Record, February 4, 1997

OBITUARY: Warner G. Rice

 

Warner G. Rice, chair emeritus of the Department of English Language and Literature and former director of the University Library, died Jan. 22 at Glacier Hills Nursing Center in Ann Arbor after a brief illness. He was 97.

Born July 25, 1899, in Aurora, Ill., Rice earned bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Illinois, where he served as an assistant in English in 1920-1922, and master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard. He also was granted several honorary degrees and received an Award for Distinguished Achievement from the Development Council of U-M.

One of a group appointed to initiate the tutorial system at Harvard in 1924, Rice served as a tutor, and as an instructor in English at Harvard and Radcliffe until 1929. At his death, he was the oldest living tutor in English.

Rice joined the U-M faculty in 1929, became a professor in 1936 and director of the University Library in 1941 and became chair of the English Department in 1948. He served the University in both capacities until 1953. Rice retired from the U-M in 1969.

Rice was a frequent contributor to educational, library, and scholarly journals and held memberships in numerous professional associations.

Rice accepted a variety of visiting professorships after retiring from the U-M, but, "He kept and used an office on campus in Ann Arbor," said Emily Cloyd, associate professor of English. "He could usually be found pursuing his researches from his desk in the Rare Book Room of the library. The future of English studies in America was one of his passions, a topic he was still discussing in the last week of his life."

Rice was preceded in death by his wife, the former Mary H. Wallace who died in October. He is survived by two daughters, Jane La Rue of Evanston, Ill.; and Louise Tassone of San Mateo, Calif., five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service for Rice and his wife is planned for 11 a.m. March 22 at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Warner G. Rice Humanities Award at the University of Michigan; to the University of Illinois Foundation, Harker Hall, Urbana, IL 61801; or to the Warner G. and Mary Hamilton Rice Faculty Fund at Wheaton College, Norton, MA 02766.