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Warner Grenelle Rice
LSA Minutes

Warner G. Rice

Warner G. Rice, Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature, died at the age of 97 on January 22. 1997.

Born in Aurora, Illinois, on July 25. 1899, Professor Rice earned his B.A. and A.M. at the University of Illinois, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at Harvard, where he was also a tutor and instructor in English. He was a quartermaster in the U.S. Navy in World War I. In 1929 he came to the University of Michigan as an associate professor, becoming a full professor in 1936.

He was Director of the University Library from 1941 to 1953. In 1948 he was named Acting Chairman of the Department of English Language and Literature, becoming Chairman in 1953 when he relinquished the library post. When he retired in 1968, he had been Chairman of the English Department for twenty years. He received several honorary degrees and. in 1956, the University of Michigan Development Council's Award for Distinguished Achievement. The Warner G. Rice Humanities Award, which funds lectures in the humanities at the University of Michigan. was created in his honor after his retirement.

Nationally, in the state, and at the University. Professor Rice's voice was heard in an astonishing number and variety of committees, commissions, and professional service organizations. Often a consultant to other college and university departments of English. Professor Rice never saw English studies at the university as a separate part of the educational world. He served on committees and commissions concerned with adult and vocational education. He was an official visitor to Michigan secondary schools, and he originated an annual summer session which enabled secondary-school teachers to attend the University of Michigan to improve their teaching of English.

Primarily a Miltonist, he published in the journals of the Milton Society, the Renaissance Society of America, and the Modern Language Association, as well as in a large number of journals concerned more generally with the profession.

When Professor Rice retired, he did not retire. He became a Visiting Mellon Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and served the state of New York as an educational consultant. He continued his research, and in his later years he could often be found working on his manuscript on the history and evolution of State Services in the Book of Common Prayer in the Rare Book Room of the Library.

Scholar, teacher, administrator, Professor Rice expected as much of others as he demanded of himself. His own demeanor being formal, a faculty member teaching without jacket and tie could expect to hear from him, but he was equally demanding in far more important matters. At the same time, he proved a sensitive and compassionate friend to colleagues and graduate students alike, often silently performing large or small personal services, or offering loans or gifts in emergencies. He was devoted to the profession whose future he continued to discuss in his last days.

His wife, Mary Hamilton Rice, preceded him in death by nearly three months. He is survived by two daughters, Jane Rice LaRue, and Louise Rice Tassone, five grandchildren. and three great-grandchildren, as well as a multitude of grateful students.

Emily Cloyd, Associate Professor of English