"He was one of the greatest men I have had the pleasure of working with. It makes you wonder what is going on in the world when something like this happens to a great young man like Ron Rice."
Former Daily Mail columnist Bill Smith wrote a column about Rice with the headline "Everyone Liked Him." Quoted in the column, former Stonewall Jackson and Tech athlete Dick Hart said, "Ron was a wonderful person. He was our leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Doing things for other people was a way of life for him. I can't believe it. I loved the guy."
Former Nitro football coach Jon Loftis described Rice as "a coach with a great future, and everyone who ever came in contact with him loved him."
Like Stewart, Rice was a college football coach who coached many years out of state. But, at the end, he truly came home. He is buried in the Montgomery Memorial Cemetery in London.
At Rice's funeral, the Fidler & Frame Funeral Home in Belle was packed with college coaches from all over the region. His brother in law, Jim Morris of Hurricane, had this memory:
"After the funeral and everyone was starting to leave, Coach Claiborne from Maryland came up to me. He said that he needed to get all of the recruiting notebooks from Ron's car that he had been accumulating. That's when it hit me. Life goes on. Recruiting never stops."
Our state has produced many great college coaches. Judging from the testimonials I have read about Rice, I am not sure any have impacted as many lives as he did in his brief 34 years.
Reach Frank Giardina at fl...@hotmail.com.