ALBERT RICE

Posted Nov. 14, 2008, at 7:51 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 3:28 a.m.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Albert “Al” Rice, 88, formerly of Bangor and longtime chief financial officer of Penobscot Shoe Co., Old Town, died Nov. 7, 2008, after a lengthy illness at his home. He was born Oct. 21, 1920, in Boston, son of Isadore and Clara Rice. A proud first-generation Jewish American, he grew up in Dorchester, Mass., where his parents settled after immigrating to America in the early 20th century. After fleeing pogroms in Russia, his parents briefly lived in Lithuania and then sailed to the U.S., accepting the change of the family name from Lasserovitch to Rice, made by immigration officials at Ellis Island, N.Y. As a youngster he helped his family during the Depression, working a newspaper route. He developed a lifelong passion for sports, playing hockey and sandlot baseball, and occasionally catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, where, in 1939 he saw his all-time favorite player, Ted Williams, break in as a rookie. Al attended night school at Bentley Business School, Boston, to learn the trade of accounting and many years later, proudly accepted an honorary degree when Bentley College recognized its earliest graduates. A World War II veteran, Al joined the Navy at the outset of the conflict and became a supply officer; he served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the Midway Island campaign. At the end of hostilities and just before being honorably discharged from the service, he met Ruthe Irene Stone of Worcester, Mass., herself the child of Jewish immigrant parents who had come to the U.S. via the same route as Al’s parents-first Russia and then Lithuania. A member of the women’s reserve of the U.S. Navy, or WAVE, she was stationed in San Diego and the two Massachusetts natives met in San Francisco and were married in 1946. Their first son, Ed, was born in Brookline, Mass., in 1947. After first settling in Quincy, Mass., Al worked several subordinate accounting jobs before accepting a comptroller position in the early 1950s with the Kagan-Lown shoe conglomerate in central Maine. His second son, Gary, was born in Bangor in 1955. Al remained with Penobscot Shoe Co., until the late 1960s. During that time he developed a passion for golf and joined the Lucerne Golf Course, or the so-called “Jewish golf course,” serving for many years as treasurer. When the Penobscot Country Club finally dropped its ban on accepting people of color and non-Christian members, Rice was one of the first members of the greater Bangor Jewish community to be asked to join, but he politely declined, repulsed that it had taken his generation’s leaders of the club so long to correct a wrong. While in the Bangor area, Al and Ruthe enjoyed activities at the Bangor YMCA, dancing, and bridge, and were members of Temple Beth El synagogue. Al subsequently worked as an accountant in Lewiston and Baltimore, and part-time in his retirement community of Scottsdale, Ariz., working even into his early 80s. He played racquetball well into his 70s, frequently defeating opponents more than half his age. He enjoyed playing golf into his early 80s and especially enjoying seeing the Boston Red Sox win baseball championships in 2004 and 2007. Al was predeceased by his parents; his older brother, Leon and wife, Dorothea; his younger brother, David and his wife, Roberta; his youngest son, Gary in 1992; and his wife, Ruthe in 1998. He is survived by his second wife, Phyllis Doner-Rice of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Scottsdale, Ariz.; his son, Ed of Orono and St. Andrews by the Sea, New Brunswick; Ed’s fiancee, Susan Gibson of St. Andrews by the Sea, New Brunswick; and granddaughter, Meisha Rice of Bangor. A memorial service was held in Scottsdale, Ariz. Internment was held at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, Phoenix, in a gravesite immediately adjacent to his wife, Ruthe.

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