Joe Allen Rice

Joe Rice

Joe Allen Rice, beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, professor, compatriot and friend, passed away on March 4, 2016 after a valiant battle against heart disease.  The son of Joseph Earl Allen Rice and Hazel Joel Wright, Joe was born on January 12, 1930 at his home in Beaumont, Texas.  His father died in 1940, and his mother died in 1950.  He had one sister, Nora Rice Hutto, and a step-brother, Coyle Bleakney, both of whom preceded him in death. 

He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Lynn Rice; daughters Nora and Allison; and their husbands and children, Richard, Ellyn and Alexei Hahn, and Jeff, Emily and AnnaClaire Curl.  Joe had a brother and sister-in-law, Sam and Marian Longbottom, who have six children, eleven grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.  He is also survived by nieces Kathryn Whitmire, Linda Whitener, and Bill Allen Hutto and their families, as well as Elaine Bleakney and her family.

Joe Allen Rice, Ph.D. graduated from the University of Texas.  He was a Strategic Air Command navigator, a police-beat reporter, columnist, investigative reporter, and earned a doctorate in American Literature from Florida State University.  His career included 40 years teaching English composition, literature, and technical writing at the University of Houston.  He was a Professor Emeritus, wrote books and plays, and was Texas Chair of the Knight Essay Contest for the Sons of the American Revolution.

“Doc,” as his students and friends called him, shared in a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting many years ago during an eight-year period as a weekly op/ed columnist and major newspaper contributor.  His one-act play The Forgotten Men Who Invented Texas was performed at the Clarence Muse Theater in downtown Dallas on November 10, 2013, produced and staged by The Black Academy of Arts & Letters.  His latest book, Because We Are Everything: Extraordinary People in My Life is available from CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.  He was also a valued oil industry researcher and technical writer/editor/consultant.

Joe and Lynn met at Palma Ceia Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida in 1958 while he was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base.  They were married in Avon Park, Florida on April 18, 1959.  Following the completion of his doctorate, the family moved to Houston in 1967 when Joe started teaching at Houston Baptist University.  Five years later, they moved to Manvel, Texas, adjacent to the property his grandmother owned during the Great Depression where she ran a boarding house for oilfield workers.

Doc belonged to the Sons of the American Revolution and Sons of the Republic of Texas – his ancestors crossed the Sabine into Texas on January 10th, 1821.  He was eligible for both Sons of Confederate Veterans and Sons of Union Veterans.  He was also a member of South Main Baptist Church.

Joe Allen Rice will be remembered by hundreds of colleagues, students, family members and friends.  His wit was always sharp, and he had a knack for captivating an audience with his stories.  As one of his favorite writers, E.B. White, wrote in the final lines of the book Charlotte's Web: "It is not often someone comes along that's a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." Doc was both.

His family is forever grateful to the incredible team of surgeons, interns, therapists, nurses and aides who supported him at the Memorial Hermann Cardiovascular Institute in Houston, Texas.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. in the Chapel of Tallowood Baptist Church, 555 Tallowood Drive, Houston, Texas 77024.   In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in the name of Joe Allen Rice to Bully, A New Film Musical or to HSPVA Friends.