SPARTA - Crank the front doorbell of the red-brick Victorian Italianate on North Spring Street and there will be no answer. The fuzzy-haired tenant with the round glasses is gone.
No more string players in the parlour, no more candidates meeting voters, no more donors drinking wine at fundraisers, no more cousins sliding down the front hall banister nor hiding in the secret closet nor playing ping pong in the damp basement while grownups chatted above. The red-bound journal in which daily notes to her husband, who died in 2003, had kept him ever present, is finished.
The documents and portraits on the walls, the china and linens from another century, will be problems for the five kids who once slept in the upstairs bedrooms. Their mother, Barbara Hughes Rice, died September 27, 2023. She was 95 years old.
She and her husband, James W. Rice, a longtime Monroe County Circuit Judge, were part of the post-war generation that thrived simply for having survived. Married in Madison, Wisconsin, November 21, 1953, they and their five children – Catherine, Park City, Utah; Elizabeth, Oshkosh, Wisconsin; John Patrick, Elko, Nevada; Robert Owain, Salt Lake City, Utah; and Thomas Blair, Cortez, Colorado – lived on Sparta’s Spring Street and at their cottage at Spring Bank. The daughter of Marjorie Blair Hughes and Owain John Hughes, she was born November 6, 1927, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Rice attended Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A freelance writer, her work appeared in state and national periodicals. From 1985- 1995 she was an adjunct instructor in the then Mass Communications Department of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
At one time Rice served on the Western Technical College Foundation Board; the Sparta Boys & Girls Club Board; the Steering Committee of St. Clare Health Mission of Monroe County; the Monroe County Shelter Care Board; the Franciscan Healthcare Foundation-Sparta Board, ex-officio; the Franciscan Healthcare-La Crosse Community Advisory Board and the High Point Charter School Governing Board. For two decades she served as secretary of the Sparta Free Library Board and more recently as a member of the SFL Expansion Project. She was a member of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, the Sparta Kiwanis Club and St. Patrick’s Church.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, October 2, 2023 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Sparta, with Father Eric Berns officiating. Following the service, friends are invited to join her family at the American Legion in Sparta. Private burial will be at a later time in Woodlawn Cemetery, Sparta.
Family and friends are invited for visitation from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday at Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation, Sparta. Online condolences may be offered at www.schanhoferfh.com
Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation, Sparta, is assisting the family with arrangements.
Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation