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US Army


Thomas Sanders Rice

November 30, 1922 ~ August 10, 2019 (age 96)

Decorated WW II Veteran Passes Away


            Thomas Sanders Rice, 96, a long-time resident of Springdale, passed away August 10 at the Palmettos of Parklane in Columbia.  A funeral service will be held Thursday, August 15, at 11 a.m. at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in West Columbia.  Burial, with military honors, will follow in the church cemetery.  

            A native of Bamberg, SC, born November 30, 1922, Mr. Rice was a US Army sergeant who was landed at Normandy during the 1944 Invasion of Europe, and he went on to be awarded a Bronze Star for “meritorious achievement” at The Battle of the Bulge.  He was a post-war graduate of The Citadel Military College in Charleston, with a degree in Business Administration, afterwards moving to Columbia where he studied at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and worked in various fields, and was a long-time member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

            He was the son of the late Maude Barker and William Thomas Rice of Bamberg, and is predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Frances Lightsey Rice, a native of Fairfax and an English teacher with the Richland County Schools; by his brother, William Arrington Rice, an Army Air Force technical sergeant killed in Italy four days before WWII ended, and by his sister, Leda Eugenia Rice, a US Army nurse who also served in the European Theatre during WWII.

            Mr. Rice began his professional life in forest conservation for a paper company in Charleston; he later taught accounting at a Columbia business college and was the manager of home delivery of The State newspaper.  He was a manager for an equipment company in West Columbia and later went into security services.

            His passion was the study of history and genealogy.  His family came to America from Switzerland in 1737 and for three decades he owned and maintained a 350-acre tree farm in Bamberg County, known in the 1800s as “China Grove,” then home to the rare brick kiln in South Carolina where it produced the tri-cornered bricks used to form the columns for Charleston and Savannah mansions.  Mr. Rice inherited this family land from his great-grandfather Henry Myer Whetstone, a surveyor and cavalry lieutenant in the Confederate Army. 

            Survivors include daughters Linda Lightsey Rice, a novelist of Minneapolis and Knoxville, TN, and Alison Rice Bruster, a Wells Fargo Senior Vice President of Fort Mill, SC.  A cousin, Benjamin Carter of Savannah, GA.  Also by sons-in-law, Robert E. Bush and Terry Bruster, and by eight Lightsey nieces and nephews.

            Called “Tommy” by family and friends, Mr. Rice was resilient and unassuming, could fix anything, and always wanted to be of help.  He loved working in the yard, had a sly and creative sense of humor, and especially a very strong faith.

            The family wishes to express their gratitude to Kate Vos of Midlands Senior Services, to the Lighthouse Hospice staff, and to the staff of the Palmettos of Parklane memory care unit for their dedicated and loving care.

            In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 2491 Emmanuel Church Road, West Columbia, SC  29170.


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