Happy Birthday Grandpa Harry Rice

My Grandfather, Harry Rice was born October 3, 1895 in Minneapolis, MN. He is the son of Frank Rice and Hattie Raymond. Grandpa may have been named after his maternal grandfather, Harry Raymond. He was the youngest of 3 children. His sisters were Lorena 1891-1913 and Rosanna 1893-1982. Grandpa didn’t grow up with his dad and I’m relatively certain they were separated before grandpa was born. The 1895 Minnesota census that was taken in July revealed that only his mom Hattie, sister Lorena, grandmother Clara and grandfather Harry were there. His father Frank and sister Rosanna were not in Minnesota. By the 1900 census, his father, Frank was remarried and was living in New London, Wisconsin.
Grandpa grew up in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and in addition to his mom and sister Lorena, lived with his stepfather, Edward Secor who ran a saloon. Grandpa was an athlete in high school and in 1915 was the All State center in Basketball, the same year his team won the state championship. He also played football in high school and college for the University of Wisconsin. In High School his nickname was Buck and in College, Handsome Harry. He also played the role of Jack in the High School play, A Case of Suspension. In the photo below, Grandpa is standing, 2nd from left.

His college days were cut short as he was drafted in World War I. He was in the 331st Field Artillery Battalion A. It was a calvary unit and I have been told that he would move the canons with the help of the horse. His Battalion was sent to France Sept 17, 1918 but never made it to the war front. The Armistice was signed Nov 11, 1918. He was discharged March 1, 1919 as a sergeant.

I don’t know exactly how Grandpa met Grandma but I do know that grandma grew up in Fond du Lac in the Northwestern Hotel/ Saloon which her parents ran. Grandma is 2 years younger but she did not go to High School. Her older brother, John, is the same age as Grandpa and they were both in High School at the same time. I remember hearing that Grandma would accompany Grandpa on the train to go visit his current girlfriend. While Grandpa and his girlfriend would go out, Grandma visited with the mother of the girlfriend. All I know for sure is that Grandpa married Grandma, Hazel Jagdfeld on September 24, 1919 in Fond du Lac and on September 9, 1921, my dad, Harry Rice Jr was born. They moved to Chicago shortly after dad was born and according to my parents, spent a year in the Hines VAMC secondary to a problem with his lungs due to exposure to chemical weapons during the war. Grandpa worked as a salesman and traveled frequently selling machine tools for EL Essley Machinery Co. After he retired, they moved to Arizona.
During his retirement he enjoyed golfing 3 times a week. He would play 9 holes and walked the course. I grew up 5 blocks away from their home and we visited every Sunday evening. He frequently wore a tie and I remember he would enjoy smoking a cigar or pipe and would have what I believe was sipping whisky while we watched either Bonanza or the Ed Sullivan show. When I was old enough to ride my bike over to their home, I would sometimes luck out and be taken to a restaurant I believe was called the Smorgasbord. I also remember one time shortly after I had knee surgery because of a torn cartilage from hurdling in track, Grandpa sat on the couch next to me and showed me the scar on his knee. He told me that a runaway horse kicked him and indeed there was a horseshoe shaped scar there. Then Dad came over and sat down on the couch and showed the scar on his knee which was a shrapnel wound from a bomb that exploded near him during the war in Okinawa. There we were on the couch, 3 people with a scar on a knee with 3 different stories to share.
Grandpa outlived Grandma by only 4 months. He passed away July 30, 1985 and is interred at Holy Hope Mausoleum, Tucson, AZ.

If any of my siblings would like to contribute any stories about Grandpa, please share in the comments.


2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Grandpa Harry Rice

  1. Thanks so much for the sharing. My memory of Grandpa was he loved to talk and tell stories about just about anything under the sun. However as a kid he would go on and on with these stories or explanations if you asked a question. Most of us kids learned early on to listen quietly and attentively without asking any follow up except for my younger brother Mike. Then we would be obliged to sit a listen for another what seemed like eternity. As a kid you don’t realize how special these times are.


  2. Grandpa gave nick names to his grandsons, Jim was high pockets Steve was deebee yopets, derived from my inability as a 3 to 4 year old to pronounce his name Steven Joseph, and I was cruncher. As a kid I spending time with Grandpa was special to me and I simply loved Grandpa so much I never wanted my time with him to end, thus the questions. Many times I sat at Grandpa’s feet telling him it was going to be him and me forever. I felt then as I do now that, growing up Grandpa and Steve were the two closest people in my life. With no disrespect to my parents or anyone else, they were my soul mates.


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