James William Rice

James William Rice passed away Sunday, July 26,  2020 in Webster TX at Clear Lake Hospital at the age of 88.

Jim was born in Chicago, IL on May 14, 1932 to James William Rice and Helen Margaret Lyons.

Raised in Chicago and Kansas City, Jim was a hard worker, putting his sisters and himself through Catholic High School on his scholarship. He always looked out for his family.

Dr. Rice was in aviation his entire life, working at Braniff, Continental, Bendix, Western Electric and Lockheed before founding Rice Aviation in Houston in 1972 to teach aircraft mechanics. After receiving his Ed.D from the University of Houston in 1977, Dr. Rice alongside his wife Mary Alice, helped thousands of students through the rigorous FAA Airframe and Powerplant curriculum resulting in aviation careers for many local Texans.

Rice Aviation was a pioneering contractor to Houston Community College for almost 30 years and grew to include technical schools in Ft. Lauderdale, Chesapeake, Richmond, Baltimore, Phoenix and Lubbock. After merging with the Northrop Institute in Los Angeles the name was changed to Northrop Rice USA in 1990, and grew internationally with a large school in Malaysia. His group of friends were global in scope, and he earned the respect of everyone he worked with. After selling the schools, Dr. and Mrs. Rice supported the Northrop Rice Foundation to foster technical education in aviation maintenance.

Jim cherished his Irish roots and Irish music, his Kansas City connection and the many trips with Alice and family and friends. Jim never forgot his friends in Kansas City and Chicago who helped him as a young man.

He is preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife, Mary Alice Boeding, his sisters Helen Rice and Catherine Dearing and brother John Rice.

Dr. Rice loved aviation but he really loved his family. He is survived by his sister Sarah Mason of Kansas City, and 6 children: Mike Rice (Leslie) of Austin, Cathy Landry (Terry) of Richmond, Mark Rice (Francesca) of Sugarland, Patrick Rice of Houston, Tim Rice (Dawn) of League City and Eileen Herrington of League City.

Grandchildren include Adam Gonzalez (Anne) of Sugarland, Kara Rice of Austin, Sarah Hickl (Michael) of Sugarland, Mary Helen Rice of Los Angeles, Emily Rice of San Antonio, Kelly Rice of Sugarland, Jordan Rice of League City and Billy and Ned Herrington of League City, with Great Grand-daughter Sophie Herrington of League City.

Dr. Rice leaves behind many treasured friends and colleagues. Due to Covid-19 restrictions a family only vigil will be held Friday July 31, 2020 at Crowder Funeral home in League City. A graveside service will be held Monday August 3, 2020 in Seneca, KS.

Donations (in lieu of flowers) to the Northrop Rice Foundation (www.northropricefoundation.org) would be welcomed to help further the Dr. James W. Rice and Mary Alice Rice tradition of education of aviation maintenance personnel.


  1. Our condolences to all of Jim’s family from a Chicago cousin — while I am so sorry to hear Jim is no longer with us, I am comforted, as I hope his family is, by all the wonderful memories of being in his company. He is a gentle giant to me since I was a young child visiting his home in Kansas City — his fairy tale wedding to Alice in Seneca — all the laughter & his quiet humor during his many visits to Chicago over the years — and his obvious lifelong love for Alice & his children. He was my mother’s godson & she was so very proud of his many accomplishments — so many good memories of a life well-lived! Rest in Peace, Jim — I know you are happy to be with Alice again.

    Dennis & Mary Grant
    • Thank you for your kind words about Dad. I agree he lived a full life and now is at peace with Mom.

      Cathy Landry
  2. Another Chicago cousin sends condolences to all of Jim’s family. I fondly remember Jim coming to Chicago and staying with us a couple of summers while he worked a summer job with my father at the Hartford Insurance Co. I also remember visits we made to KC for his college graduation, and later to his and Alice’s wedding. He will certainly be missed by all who knew him.

    Bill and Barbara Hayes
    • Thank you for sharing the memories. It means a lot to the family to hear of Dad’s life before we were around 🙂 We feel fortunate and blessed with such a great family, including our cousins in Chicago.

      Cathy Landry
  3. We were saddened to learn of Jim’s passing.
    Wether visiting KC as a young child or enjoying one of his visits to Chicago, Jim was always an inspirational figure in our lives.
    My mother held her godson in the highest esteem and as an example of excellence for us to emulate.
    Our condolences, we will miss him.

    Tim and Sue Coyne

    Tim Coyne
    • Thank you for your kind words. Dad was an inspiration to many, even tho he never thought that. His guidance was powerful and I know I appreciate it.

      Cathy Landry
  4. My condolences to the Rice family. As a 1989 graduate of the Hobby campus, I was immediately hired by then Continental Airlines. I retired in 2017 from United at the same place. Quite simply none of this would have happened without Mr. Rice. I remember Cathy working diligently in the office. We were called ‘Rice Rockets’ by the old timers. On behalf of the numerous graduates I know and know of, this is a Thank You for the positive and enduring legacy you provided for your family and the aviation maintenance industry. May the Road rise to meet you Jim …

    Stephen ODay
    • Your message really made an impact on me and I appreciate your kindness. Dad was very focused on the schools and helping people get into the AMT field. It is very kind of you to share how this impacted your life, and sent you on a wonderful career journey.

      Cathy Landry
  5. Your message really made an impact on me and I appreciate your kindness. Dad was very focused on the schools and helping people get into the AMT field. It is very kind of you to remember Dad and share how this impacted your life, and sent you on a wonderful career journey.

    Cathy Landry
  6. We met Alice and Jim and family when we first arrived to FSD/IBM-NASA because we were part of the St Paul Catholic Community with Fr (Msgr) Beck. We traveled together to visit the Irish Roots! We worshiped together, we had fun together, and even after we retired to Austin, we kept in touch. We visited once a year for the most part. And the whole experience together brought us great joy.

    Deacon Ray and Joanne Sanders

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