In Loving Memory
December 23, 1925 – September 18, 2014
Gordon Rice was nearly a Christmas baby being born on December 23, 1925, in a house just off of Railroad Bed Road. The family farm has since been developed into Mt. Vernon Estates. Gordon’s late parents W. Hooper and Mary Rice raised nine children. Gordon was the last survivor of the five sons. He leaves behind two sisters, Mary Lou Rice and Dixie Tanksley.
Upon graduation from Mt. Juliet High School Gordon was immersed into war, WWII. This arena turned boys into men or broke them. He became a man. He sacrificed much, including losing much of his hearing. This was due to an explosion in his foxhole which blew his helmet off his head. The rest of his buddies in the foxhole perished. On another occasion in Ramila he could feel the blood in his boot as he was walking injured to the back lines to receive medical aid. As he trekked on through a deep snow he came upon a German soldier who had propped his weapon against a tree. Gordon said the soldier immediately knew he was disadvantaged as he lifted his weapon. Gordon took him as a prisoner of war. He then shared half of the food he had with the prisoner before marching him on to the back lines. Gordon was a highly decorated soldier who served loyally and battled courageously for his country he loved.
Monica, Gordon’s nephew’s wife and member at Mt. Juliet, tells about talking to the Veterans Administration about Gordon’s war records to which she was told; “He is highly decorated, more than he has told you.” They are sending a list of recognitions, but we know of him receiving the French Fourragere, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. Gordon once said of receiving the Purple Heart, “You never ever want to truly earn the Purple Heart!” Fortunately the turmoil of war didn’t change him from being a kind, gentle soul. He continued to love life and joke often. After the cease fire orders Gordon returned home aboard the Queen Elizabeth, the largest passenger liner of its day. We are deeply indebted to Gordon and so many others who sacrificed so much for our nation. May God bless America.
Back in Mt. Juliet Gordon attended law school at Cumberland, but did not fully complete his studies. But during this time in life he did complete the task of wooing Kelly Clydene Garrison into his life. He referred to this blessing as I “got lucky.” They married in 1948 enjoying over 60 years of marriage before her passing in 2009.
During his life he enjoyed working at the Tennessee Department of Transportation as an Office Engineer with the Rural Roads Division in the Administrative Headquarters in Nashville. This gave him the opportunity to serve and know many governors from Jim Nance McCord to Ned Ray McWherter. He was also acquainted with Senator Reagor Motlow, as well as judges and road superintendents from all 95 counties. When he retired in 1983 with 36 years’ service it was the relationships with all these people that he missed. He did fill his time with other activities. He loved to fly fish, even adventuring to the mountains a few times to do so. He enjoyed tinkering with things, although he might not necessarily repair them. He also enjoyed yard and garden work and he loved to shoot pool. He would gladly tell you about playing with “Minnesota Fats” on one occasion.
Most importantly, Gordon loved the Lord and the Lord’s church. He was generous, humble and of gentle spirit. He grew up at the Green Hill congregation. After marriage, his family worshipped at Hermitage. Later in life he would eventually worship at Mt. Juliet. He was greatly loved and appreciated here. We are thankful we had the opportunity to worship and serve together. Gordon’s life, his influence and friendship has been such a rich blessing.
The ‘ole soldier is in waiting to receive the highest award of any soldier; “The crown of righteousness!” By obedient faith, through grace, we believe he has finished the greatest battle, the spiritual battle! A great soldier marches into eternity.