Thelma C. Rice

Age 101: Schoolteacher was an active member of numerous organizations, including St. James Episcopal Church.

May 18, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun Reporter

Thelma Cannady Rice, a retired veteran public school educator and 50-year member of her church, died of cancer Wednesday at her daughter's Woodlawn home. She was 101.

Born Thelma E. Cannady in Hampton, Va., she was a member of a family associated with Hampton Normal College, now Hampton University. Family members said much of her childhood was spent on the school's campus, where her father ran a commissary and her mother had a guest house, the Holly Tree Inn.

Mrs. Rice received her diploma from the School of Education at Hampton Normal College in 1927. In 1930 she earned a bachelor's in education, also from Hampton.

After graduating from college, Mrs. Rice taught in North Carolina and at Bishop College in Texas. She then went on to serve as a supervisor of rural black schools in Virginia.

She married Herbert Duckett Rice, also a teacher, and the couple moved to Baltimore in the 1940s. They resided for many years on Ruxton Avenue.

Mrs. Rice taught kindergarten and elementary school in the Baltimore public school system. She spent more than 35 years at the Henry H. Garnet School on Division Street and at School 149, also in West Baltimore.

"She was an elegant person who observed all the social graces," said her son-in-law, William E. Lambert of Woodlawn. "She never left the house without being properly attired."

He said that Mrs. Rice believed strongly that her children, as well as her students, must get a good education. "She also wanted them to be alert to what was going on around them in the world."

Throughout her life, Mrs. Rice was an active member in and volunteer for numerous organizations, including the Maryland League of Women's Clubs, the Gamma Chapter of the Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, Citizens for Black History Exhibits at the old Peale Museum in downtown Baltimore, the United Way, the Urban League Guild, the Baltimore Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Hampton Alumni Association.

Mrs. Rice enjoyed many years of travel to Germany, England and Bermuda. She also enjoyed attending the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and reading newspapers and books. She often played a favorite card game, King's Corners, with family and friends.

Family members said her mind and wit were active well into her 100th year.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. James Episcopal Church, North Arlington and West Lafayette avenues, where she was a member of St. Monica's Guild and a parishioner for more than 50 years.

Survivors include a son, Herbert A. Rice of Woodlawn; a daughter, Thelma Barbara Lambert of Woodlawn; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Her husband of more than 45 years died in 1980.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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