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Condolence From: Doug Rice


April 2013

My parents lived in a house beside a fire station on Buchtel Avenue in Akron, Ohio. The night that I was brought home from the hospital the furnace caught fire and the firemen next door put it out. A few years later we moved to 148 S. Union Street, the street extending down from the fire station. We had a wonderful fenced in back yard. My father was an Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who had graduated from Central High School, Harvard University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Mother had completed two years of college when she married and then finished the last two years at the University of Akron after getting married. She got her degree in Home Economics. A young woman, often from Chardon, Ohio, always lived with us to help out with us four children and to take care of the household. Mary and I always shared a bedroom and my brothers Louis and Bob had their own rooms & my younger sister Alice had hers. We went to Old Trail School, a private school, with Mother driving us.

In 1934 when I was 8 we moved to 406 N. Portage Path, as we needed more space. The house was on a golf course. In 7th and 8th grades my brother Bob and I went to King School, a public school nearby and we walked there. I was president of the 7th grade class. I caught Scarlet Fever from my sister Alice in 6th grade, had diphtheria in 7th grade and nephritis in 8th grade. I went back to Old Trail School for 9th grade, and then followed my older sister Mary to Laurel School in Shaker Heights just outside of Cleveland for 10th,11th and 12th grades. Mother brought me home on week-ends. I took cello lessons starting in 6th grade. I was told that I had perfect pitch.

At Laurel School during World War II in the dormitory we had air raid drills. We all sat down in the halls, lined up at the sides, with hands over our heads. Also, we were given navy yarn to knit into sweaters for the men in service. I didn’t finish mine in time so my unfinished sweater and yarn were recalled.

Dad had two weeks’ vacation every summer and would join us after we had left for locations out west. Sometimes we took a trailer and Aunt Grace or Blanche (Mother’s sisters) would come along. Mother went to Cleveland and got her PhD in Psychology and then taught at the University of Akron and also worked as a psychologist in her own Psychological Services.

I grew up attending Trinity Lutheran Church in Akron, OH. My father was a Lutheran and my mother had been Church of the Brethren. I went to Sunday School and church every Sunday with my parents and siblings. We learned bible verses and were given red ribbons to wear with little white cards on them listing the verse. Our family vacationed in Estes Park by Rocky Mountain National Park during the war as gas was being rationed and we could take the train there. My sister Mary and I went to a summer camp in New York State one year. During a storm a tree fell onto my cot. Fortunately I was with others in the lodge for the duration of the storm. I enjoyed Girl Scout camp and was a Junior camp counselor at Girl Scout Camp Ledgewood another summer while in high school. I was called Woody, as I taught carving pins out of cedar.

I had loved scouting and loved both summers. My fellow counselor tent-mates and I would sit by the campfire and sing Scout songs to the girls in their beds when it was bedtime. Another summer I was a Senior camp counselor. At high school graduation I was given an Athletic Award for outstanding participation in sports.

My sister Mary and I attended the University of Arizona in Tucson the summer I was out of high school. We waited tables a couple of times for the Navy Ensign banquets. My brother Louis was living in Tucson and would take us around in his car which had a hole in the drivers’ side seat floor. Mary and I also enjoyed birding. We five siblings in various combinations spent a lot of time travelling with our parents to Mexico, Cuba, Bermuda, the Canadian Rockies, Quebec, Alaska and our National Parks. One year my parents dropped me off mid summer at the Yellowstone National Park Main Lodge after I had gotten a job as a waitress. That job lasted only three weeks as I got the flu from my roommate and came home.

I was admitted to Oberlin College but decided to go to Northwestern Univ. in Evanston, IL. instead. I took a lot of pre-med courses there. I was on the varsity Independent Field Hockey Team. Everyone had to take target practice in the basement of a building as this was still WW II. The last two years of college I went to Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Recruiters had come to Northwestern from Carleton to persuade students to transfer as Carleton needed students to replace the men who were drafted for WW II. As an Independent at Northwestern Univ. because I did not want to join a sorority, I would have had to live in a hotel off campus the next year and that did not appeal to me. I liked Carleton a lot and graduated with a B.A. in biology(pre-med). My favorite courses were Art Appreciation and Music Appreciation. I took piano, was in the Chapel Choir (we sang Brahm’s German Requiem) and played cello in the orchestra.

Between Junior and Senior years, in the summer of 1946, three of us from Carleton joined a group of 100 American Youth Hostel college students and spent the summer rebuilding Youth Hostels in Europe that were damaged by the war. We went over on a troop ship & took our own bicycles and food (in a truck) so that we were self sufficient. We divided up into three groups, rotating among the three work sites. We worked two weeks in Luxembourg, converting the old Ansemberg Castle used by German troops into a Youth Hostel, two weeks in Southern France in La Salle Le Bez near Grenoble repairing a damaged farm house hostel, and two weeks in Nijmegan, Holland cleaning up a Youth Hostel used by various troops during the war. Some of us went afterwards to the International Youth Hostel Rally at Loch Lomond, Scotland, biking from Hull, England through Edinburgh to the rally north of Glasgow.

In 1947, between college and Ohio State University School of Medicine I went with my parents, brother Bob and sister Alice up the Alcan Highway to Alaska. I graduated from O. S. U. School of Medicine in 1951 and took a rotating internship at Rochester (NY) General Hospital, which was then on West Main St. A friend had said to “come on up” as she was working there as a social worker. The following year I headed the Emergency Room at St Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. That year I broke my ankle skiing though it didn’t interfere with my work. I lived with my friend from Akron.

I decided to become a nutritionist rather than to continue as an MD so attended Michigan State University for two quarters taking a full load of nutrition courses which enabled me to become a licensed nutritionist. I played cello in the University Orchestra there in Ann Arbor. After that, with the invitation of another friend I moved to Chicago and worked part-time jobs until finding what I wanted. I was a part time Pediatric Investigator copying the records of new baby deaths, as Dr. Bundesen, head of the Board of Health, was especially interested in cutting down on newborn baby deaths. To do that I went around Chicago on the elevated train to the hospitals. I was also a vacation substitute for the doctors at the Conrad Hilton Hotel downtown, did physicals for the Cancer Prevention Clinic, and did research for a Pediatrician who was writing a paper. I worked a year as a research assistant at the University of Chicago. Finally, there was an opening in the Nutrition Dept. at the Chicago Board of Health as a Nutrition Consultant. There were six of us and we did Well Baby Clinics, checked nursing home menus, etc.

I met my future husband, Jim, a Presbyterian minister, in Chicago by the water fountain at Fourth Presbyterian Church Young Peoples Group. I had gone occasionally to a similar group in Rochester, NY. at Third Presbyterian Church called YAF (Young Adult Fellowship). We later dated at a Folk Dancing Group that met weekly in a South Side Episcopal Church. One evening when I was there without Jim there was a smell of smoke as we entered. Before long the entire steeple and part of the church burned down as we stood at a distance watching the firemen put out the fire.

Jim and I were married in June 1957 in the small University of Chicago chapel by Seward Hiltner, one of Jim’s professors in his Religion and Personality course that he was taking for a PhD. Our families both came. We honeymooned in MacGregor, Iowa, on the Mississippi River. We had a close call at dusk in a row boat when a large boat appeared through the dusk coming right at us with its light on the back end.

Jim was from a farm (ranch) in Tuthill, SD, had graduated from the Univ. of South Dakota and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1952 and then served a couple of churches in and around Groton, SD He tired of that and returned to Chicago to get a PhD in Religion and Personality, which was then a new field. Because it was a new field a candidate for a degree had to be approved of by one member of every department at the Univ. of Chicago and that just didn’t happen, so candidates went out to State Universities, etc. and started departments without their PhDs. Jim took all of the course work including working on the psychiatric ward. In 1957 he became pastor of Christ Church (Presbyterian) on the north side of Chicago just north of “Near North”. By then we were newly married. We settled in on Fullerton Ave. in one of the row houses belonging to McCormick Theological Seminary, now our manse. The Seminary and houses were surrounded by an iron fence. We had access to the entire area, which was great for our boys. The three boys arrived in four years and kept us very busy. We lived a few blocks from a Children’s Hospital where Jim took them for occasional stitches. Jim and I were in a small fun faculty recorder group. Don went to kindergarten at the neighboring school. Several summers we vacationed with my sister Mary and family at Ives Lake, Northern Michigan.

Eight years later we moved to Rochester, NY, as Jim felt that he had done what he set out to do at Christ Church (Presbyterian) and he had received an interesting job offer from The Presbytery of Genesee Valley. He was assigned the job of merging Calvary Presbyterian Church with St Andrews Episcopal Church, two small churches located close to each other in S.E. Rochester. We lived the first six weeks in an empty manse on Hamilton St. next door to Calvary Presbyterian Church until we found a home in S.E. Rochester at 394 Rockingham St. Don started First Grade and Steve started Kindergarten at the local school next to the Episcopal Church. That school is now torn down. Six weeks later when we moved to Rockingham St they moved to Grade School 24 at Linden and Meigs St. Doug went to nursery school at Calvary Church and then at Third Presbyterian Church and then on to School 24. Don and Steve then went to the School 49 MAP program (Major Achievement Program) for 5th and 6th grades. Doug missed MAP as his class was eliminated because there wasn’t the minimum of 32 students in his 3rd grade class.

Instead he was skipped to 5th grade. School 24 is now all condominiums.

School 24 had no library so a few of us decided to start one. We literally collected books door to door in a book drive, bought some and were given the free new books sent to a local newspaper, etc. I was heavily involved in getting the file cards typed by parents. We had a good library with classrooms coming in weekly to check out books. Years later School 24 finally got a Title I Library, well after our boys had moved on.

We moved to Drury Lane in Brighton in 1973 as we needed a bigger house and better schools. The boys went to the Penfield schools, as we were on the outer edge of Brighton and next to Penfield. Don and Steve started out at Bay Trail Middle School and Doug at Indian Landing School.

I joined Third Presbyterian Church in 1966. The three boys attended Sunday School, junior and bell choirs and Boy Scouts at Third Presbyterian Church. In time Jim became Associate Executive Presbyter for Mission in Rochester. I played cello with the Penfield Symphony Orchestra for four years and it was a totally enjoyable experience with a wonderful conductor. We had an exchange student from the Netherlands one year and several other shorter term students from abroad plus 2 members of the Wuppertal, Germany chorus. We also hosted church related guests from abroad.

In 1978 after the boys had graduated from high school the family drove me to the Medical College of PA for a seven-week M.D. retraining program. I then worked for two years in Rochester with the Association for Retarded Children (ARC) as a part-time M.D. and then decided I wasn’t interested in pursuing medicine any further. I had done high school athletic physicals and camp physicals on and off over the years in Chicago and Rochester. After that, I worked two or three years at Sibley’s Department Store selling housewares and fine china. Lastly, I worked at Gordon S. Black Market Research, now Harris Interactive, for four years, doing telephone research with businesses, etc., and then retired at age 64. My hobbies were gardening, photography, piano, travel, music, birding and the out of doors.

Jim and I drove with the boys to South Dakota number of times to see his folks and later flew there frequently. We also visited my mother in Akron, Ohio, frequently. We drove with the boys to Ghost Ranch in Abiqui, N.M. one summer, tenting along the way. Jim took a course there with Martin Marty, the religious scholar. Jim and I went to Geneva, Switzerland for a church seminar and he at another time took a two-week course in Coventry, England. We joined him in Coventry as a family afterwards and, using a rental house as a base, traveled widely in England and Scotland with the three boys, ages 8, 10 and 11. We fulfilled Don’s request, to go on the Hovercraft (across the Channel to France), Steve’s request to go to Germany (he was taking German in Rochester with friends), and Doug’s request to go to Stonehenge. Later Jim, with me along, did study time combined with a Presbyterian church cultural tour in China. After retirement we were able to take some trips to Switzerland and central Europe, Denmark and Norway, Australia and New Zealand and Fiji, and Alaska. I went to Switzerland four times all told, including once with SITA (student international travel association), once with Mother, once with Jim to a church seminar and once with Jim to do genealogy.

My Mother had several family gatherings in Ohio, mostly at Mohican State Lodge, on her special birthdays as she grew older, and she encouraged us to have family get-togethers in the years to come. We visited Don and Melissa (grade school teacher) and Alan and James in NYC at least once every year. Don is a music copyist for Broadway musicals, recordings and live performances. We visited Steve and Kathy and Becca and Eric in Seattle at least once every year. Steve and Kathy Lee Loomis got divorced and Steve then married Anneclaire De Roos, epidemiologist and fiddle player. Steve is a musician and plays accordion and plays and teaches jazz piano. He plays Kletzmer music and other ethnic music as well and plays in different groups. Later on he has started composing music freelance for film and TV.

Steve and Anneclaire moved to Philadelphia in Dec. 2012 and Anneclaire has a new job at Drexel Univ. while Steve is working his way into the local music scene and still composing. Doug is based in Rochester, N.Y. and rents apartments in his purchased houses. He also was a founder of NOTA= Neighborhood of the Arts, Artwalk –a permanent urban outdoor art trail within NOTA, MuCCC =Multi-use Community Cultural Center, a remodeled white Baptist Mission Church which he bought and which has weekly performances, and has a five flat apartment building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y.C.

Volunteering was a big part of my life. I played a very big role in starting the boys’ School 24 library, tutored at a city grade school, was involved at church as a Deacon and in other ways. I managed Amnesty International Letter Writing at church for many years and worked with the church Food Cupboard for 16 years, mostly as the Chair and Food Supply person. I was an Election Inspector for the Board of Elections for many years.

One summer I took tennis lessons in a nearby park from our town of Brighton. The class ended with a tournament. I lost my first game so was put in the losers tournament. I won the losers tournament and was given a trophy.

Jim died of a heart attack suddenly working at the computer on Nov 17, 2000, age 73, while doing genealogy. We had been married 43 years. His ashes are at Rose Hill Cemetery on West Market Street in Fairlawn, Ohio, just outside of Akron, Ohio, in the Witzeman lot. There are also some of his ashes scraped into the soil under the tree which is by Jayccox Creek on the south-east side of the Nation’s Road bridge which is South of Avon, NY. and off of Fowlerville Rd. The ashes are under the apple tree on the left as you go through the gate and down towards the stream. The area is rather over grown now. Our family used to collect small fossils beside this creek. Rural Nations Rd was a favorite escape for Jim and I and the area was especially good for birding.

The two of us had many good years together. Jim loved his work and kept very busy. He lived life so fully that he said he “lived three lives in one.”

Jim had been the talker while I was the quieter one, more of a listener. After Jim passed away I continued volunteering and visiting our sons and their families plus did a little travelling. I was grateful for Doug’s presence in Rochester and enjoyed following his work with NOTA-the Neighborhood of the Arts, ARTWalk and MuCCC-the multi-use community cultural center. In January, 2009 at age 84 I moved into a Chestnut Court apartment at St. John’s Meadows in Rochester, a senior living community near where I lived. I continued to be active in Food Cupboard for several more years, providing the food for about 25 people two times a week.

In April 2012 at age 86 I retired from Third Presbyterian Church Food Cupboard and passed the weekly Food Supply work on to someone else. I stopped helping with the Senior Group at church the next year.

The five of us Witzeman siblings had reunions every three years after Mother died, alternating between Arizona where my two brothers lived and Ohio where my two sisters lived. In 2012 there were 50 of us present. Louis had passed away and his third wife Sue attended. We always put on a talent show, which had a number of musical entries, sang the Witzeman songs, (Jim Rice wrote the words) such as “Old Creek Henry Had a Farm” and “Yost Musser He Sailed on the Molly”, and presented skits created from “Consider the Years,” the Witzeman-Rowe family history book written by B. Evangeline Witzeman and Jim Rice. In the later years, we siblings and spouses got together yearly in Ohio except every third year when there was a big family reunion alternating between Arizona and Ohio.

This was written as we were about to come together for the September 2013 sibling get together at Mary’s house in Richfield, Ohio.

Saturday August 19, 2017
Condolence From: Cam & Carla Mandel
Condolence: Warm heart felt condolences to the Rice family. I have known Steve for a number of years. Have enjoyed the many postings over the years showing Lucile with the boys and family. Much love for sure. Keep her memories close. All the best for the next few days and in the future.
Wednesday August 16, 2017
Condolence From: Rev. Lawrence Hargrave
Condolence: We pray with and for your family in this time of loss.
Tuesday August 15, 2017
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