Merritt D. Rice (78) of Metaline Falls, passed away on March 9, 2014 in Spokane due to complications from respiratory failure. He was born Feb. 22, 1936 at Pomeroy to George Henry Rice and Minnie Elizabeth Rice (Clark).
At the age of seven, the family moved to Lapwai, Idaho where the family farmed and cattle ranched. Merritt graduated from Lapwai High School in 1955.
At the age of 20, the family leased the cattle ranch and moved to Metaline Falls, where he gained employment as a bus driver for Auto Inter Urban Bus Lines, providing transportation between Spokane and Metaline Falls. He worked with another employer, “Henry George and Sons,” in the construction of the long-standing cement silos in Metaline Falls. He also worked in the Diamond Match Sawmill, and later as an underground miner at the Grandview Mine. It was at this time that the home and property was purchased in Metaline Falls, where he resided until the time of his death.
He was employed with Robinson Excavating and Trucking of Metaline Falls during this time and in the years to follow. Upon the closure of the Grandview Mine in 1965, Merritt moved his wife and children to Deep Lake to continue his mining at the Calhoun Mine. When the Calhoun Mine closed in 1969, Merritt and his family moved back to the family home in Metaline Falls.
Merritt then gained employment with the Lehigh Portland Cement Company. Merritt remained employed until 1985, when he and Janet leased the Hang Out Café, where their children worked beside them. Merritt then purchased the old Olsen Store with the addition of grocery, clothing, mercantile and liquor in 1991.
After his retirement, Merritt could not sit still. He began working for the City of Metaline Falls in the Maintenance Department (until 2006) while owning his own business--Rice and Sons Carpentry. In that business, all of his children helped in building, roofing, and cabinetry throughout the surrounding communities. Always active, he was a devoted fan of the Selkirk Rangers’ softball team. He picked up a “Fan of the Year” award in 2001.
He spent many years dedicating his time and service to the North Pend Oreille County Lions Club, as well as the American Legion Post No. 144, receiving awards and recognition from both.
In his younger years, Merritt was an avid hunter and fisherman. He enjoyed raising cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys; he often had a freezer full of meat. Meanwhile, his wife preserved the fruits from their garden. People wonder why there are five children!
He was devoted to his firewood getting weekends with family and friends. He was also able to take several family outings and only missed the states of Alaska and Hawaii.
Merritt really enjoyed his daily stops at the local establishments and garages, conversing with his many friends, who would kindly assist him to and fro because of the neuropathy in his feet.
He is survived by his wife, Janet of 55 years, at their home; four sons, Doug in Colville; Brian and wife Sandi Jo, Metaline; Roger and Debbi, Ione; Monte, Balad, Iraq; one daughter, Lynnette, Metaline; six grandsons and two grand-daughters, Travis, Everett, Derek, Scott, Curtis, Autumn Rice, and Kea and Marcus Johnson; four step-grandchildren, Richard and Sara Bomhard and Nikki and Amanda Heim; four great-grandsons and three great-granddaughters, with another girl expecting in June; brother Mikal, Colville; sisters Merilyn, Winchester, Idaho; Macil and husband George, Metaline; several nieces, nephews and cousins, family friends he considered his own, as well as his Blue Heeler sidekick, Babe.
He was preceded in death by his parents, daughter-in-law, loyal friend and co-worker, Kim Rice (Grant), and his faithful Malteze Poodle, Star.
A celebration of Merritt’s life was held March 15 at the “Merritt Rice Public Works Building” in Metaline 15. A potluck reception followed at the Lillian Bailey Elementary School.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the NPOC Ambulance Service, Metaline Falls, WA 99153, or to another charity of choice.
“May your horse never stumble, your cinch never break, your belly never grumble and your heart never ache.”
Sherman-Knapp Funeral Home in Priest River, Idaho is in charge of arrangements.
Family and friends are invited to sign the online guest book at sherman-knapp.com
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