Skip to main content

Welcome! Be sure to visit the NABC website as well.

Missing Bill Rice - UPDATE May 1, 2024

Bill and Shirley Rice

Lynn Donna Shirley Bill Rice 20180722Lynn and Donna Rogers, Shirley and Bill Rice in 2018

I can’t help but think about what a good friend Bill was and how much he helped bears by being a material part of making the North American Bear Center. I relied on him for advice. He is the one who found the ideal location for the Bear Center. And he and Shirley were major donors, along with Lily Fans, to make it what it is—what made Popular Science Magazine name it ‘The number one science center to visit in Minnesota.’ We talked a lot. He and Shirley and their friends visited the bears many times, and they appreciated the bears around their backwoods summer home. But if I am missing him so much, I can only imagine how Shirley, his wife of 71 years, is feeling losing a life partner like Bill.

Ribbon cutting 2015Ribbon cutting in 2015

A picture I like is of the ribbon cutting for the opening of the Northwoods Ecology Hall and the Hope Learning Center. From left to right are Judy Thon representing volunteers, Lori Shulze representing the Ely Chamber of Commerce, Shirley Rice representing the Bear Center board, Mayor Chuck Novak representing Ely, me, Donna, Missy Heitala representing the Bear Center staff, Jen McCron representing the LilyPad Picnic Committee, and Bill Rice representing donors, advisors, and the WRI board. Jackie Runions took the picture. Behind her was a big crowd of well-wishers and volunteers that made me proud to be part of Ely.

So many people remember Bill and Shirley from the Lily Pad Picnics they attended. I liked reading comments below his obituary from Lily Fans who remember how much they liked sitting and talking with Bill and Shirley at the picnics. One person described him as a “gentle kind soul that always found the good in all.”

Bill was liked wherever he went. Many of the comments under his obituary are from his former employees who appreciated how he was always checking to see that everything was okay for them. The story of his business is one in itself. He and Shirley started it as an idea and a basement operation. The thought behind it was so ‘right on’ that the Ritron Corporation soon became an international corporation. Seeing his perseverance and success gave me even more confidence in him.

The link to his obituary is E.W. Rice Obituary - Indianapolis, IN. He was a wonderful God-loving and family loving man.

As we now go forward, expanding our educational outreach and making the Bear Center ever more engaging, we’ll remember what Bill and Shirley did to bring us this far. Thank you Bill and Shirley!!

And thank you all for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

Share this update: