Samuel Gillette Rice, Jr. passed away Tuesday, April 18, 2017, with his family by his side.
Known as Sam or Sammy G., he was born in King City on March 9, l930, at the old King City Hospital at the corner of Broadway Street and San Lorenzo Street to parents Samuel Gillette Rice, Sr. and Emma Benvenuta Ricca Rice. He grew up in King City and attended all of his grammar and high school years there.
While attending King City High School he played the position of catcher for the Mustang baseball team, and was a linebacker for the Mustang football team. He was a member of the 1947 varsity team that defeated Santa Barbara High School to win the Championship. He graduated from King City High School in 1948.
He worked at Mesa Del Rey airport to help pay for flying lessons, earning his pilot’s license at 16 years just after the end of World War II.
Sam joined the Navy in 1948 after graduating from high school. He attended boot camp in San Diego, and was stationed at Alameda Naval Air Station. On weekends, on occasion, he would hitchhike home to King City to see his parents until he was able to purchase his 1950 Ford. He was assigned to an air group and served on various aircraft carriers as a mechanic, including the USS Boxer, during the Korean War.
After discharge from the Navy in 1952, he returned to King City and enrolled at California Polynechnic University, San Luis Obispo and attended college there for two years.
After that he returned to King City and worked for Texaco in the San Ardo oil fields. He joined the California Highway Patrol October 8, l956. After graduation from the Academy and a brief stay working as a motorcycle Traffic Officer hiding a Harley Davidson in the East Los Angeles area, he began working in the King City area on December 5, 1957. He loved catching speeders. Twenty-four years later, when the Highway Patrol started their Air Operations unit at Mesa Del Rey airport, he applied for and began working his dream job of flying for a living, serving as a Flight Officer with the Coast Division Air Operations Unit. He retired on March 29, 1990 at 60 years of age. He would have continued working if they had let him.
He married his wife, Kathryn Kerr, on August 4, 1957 and they made their home in King City. They enjoyed going to all of the local dances, New Year’s Eve celebrations and social functions their calendar would allow. Sam and Kathryn loved dancing. After retirement, Sam made politics and political causes his main passion. He circulated petition supported his candidates by putting up yard signs and bumper stickers. He was a Republican through and through and was vocal about what he believed.
He was preceded in death by his parents Samuel and Emma Rice, his sister, Sophie Rice Chiara and nephew Steven Chiara.
He is survived by his wife Kathryn, children, Perry and Stacey Rice, nephews Joseph and Aiden Kerr; Andre, Tim and Tony Chiara and nieces Kristen (Robert) Chiara-Gann and Tina Chiara (Dennis D’Ambrogio) of San Francisco.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 10am at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 301 Bassett St, King City, CA. Burial will follow at the King City Cemetery. A Memorial Celebration at the Orradre Building at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds will follow.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Sam’s name to the charity of your choice.
Funeral Arrangements by Struve and Laporte. Online condolences to www.struveandlaporte.com