Former Cleburne Times-Review Publisher Bill Rice passed away early Saturday morning at his home in Cisco.
Members of the Cleburne Lions Club, of which Rice was a long-time member, and other community members are mourning his loss.
“What can you say about Bill Rice?” Lion Jason Cech said. “From the day you met him, you were instantly attracted to him. Bill had the personality that lit up a room and had an infectious smile and laugh. He always cared about others and was always willing to do anything he could for his community.
“Bill had a servant’s heart and will be greatly missed by all that knew him. I can guarantee that heaven welcomed Bill with open arms and he will keep everyone up there laughing.”
Rice started working at the Times-Review in 1981 as the ad manager. After a short stent at the Weatherford Democrat, he returned to Cleburne to serve as publisher from 1995-98.
“Bill was on his second round working at the paper when I first arrived in 2010,” Times-Review Managing Editor Monica Faram said. “He was one of the ones who encouraged me to get involved with the Lions. I’ll never forget throwing rolls with him. He had a special way with people. He could make you smile no matter how bad a day you were having.
“Bill was a great mentor for me as I worked my way up the ranks at the paper. I will never forget some of the important life lessons he taught me when I was in my early 20s and new to the business world. He will be missed dearly by so many.”
After the paper, he served as Dean of Corporate and Continuing Education from 1999-2009.
“Everyone in town knew Bill and liked him,” former Times-Review Publisher Kay Helms said. “I went to work there in February 1981. He came in March as the ad manager under Paul Griffith. When Paul retired Bill returned as the publisher.
“Bill helped me tremendously with my career. He’s the one that promoted me to ad manager.”
He worked for a short stent at the paper again in the advertising department before taking a job at Lone Star Autoplex, now Southwest Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. He worked there as the fleet and commercial manager from June 2010 until retirement.
“What a humble man and a sweet spirit,” Lion Cecil Yates said. “His goal was to make everyone feel better by just being around him. RIP my friend and fellow Lion.”
Rice grew up in Cisco, where he graduated from high school before attending Tarleton State University. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in business. He also received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Angelo State University.
“I had the pleasure of working with Bill at the Cleburne Times-Review back in the early 80's and again in the late '90s,” Lions President Tina Pollock said. “On my very first day work in November of 1983, Bill was the first person to greet me and make me feel welcome. He was a ‘people’ person, enjoyed talking, joking, and just enjoyed life to the fullest. My thoughts and prayers to his wife, Debbie, and the rest of the Rice family.”
Rice met his wife, Debbie, shortly after he graduated from Tarleton State University in 1973.
“I was working the meat counter in a grocery store because I couldn’t find anything with my degree just yet,” he said during a 2017 Cleburne Lions Club meeting. “Debbie would come in and eventually I figured maybe I ought to ask this girl out. So I did and then on May 10, 1974, which happened to be Mother’s Day, we got married. And I always tell Debbie she got the best gift she could get on Mother’s Day, which was me.”
The couple moved to Cisco in 2018 after Debbie retired as the Johnson County treasurer, an office she held for seven years. She worked 21 and a half years total for the county.
“Bill was a charming man,” said Paige Henslee, a former Times-Review sales executive. "His smile and laugh were contiguous. Bill hired me for my first job at 16 at CTR. I worked there 17 years. He taught me all about the newspaper industry. He was passionate about the newspaper and advertising. He loved what he did and you could see it in his eyes. I will always be grateful for his mentorship. RIP my friend. I love you dearly. Prayers for Debbie, Misty and Billy and all his family and friends."
Services are pending.