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Helen Rice
(1913-1997)

Helen Rice, née Helen Margaret Hart, was born in Cornelius, Washington County, Oregon, on June 17, 1913, the daughter of Lillie Ethel Harwood and George W. Hart, a dairy farm laborer. She married Richard Lindsay Rice on May 28, 1932, and together they had three daughters: Sharleen K. (1933; married William Harvey, Sr., and now lives in Mesa, Arizona), Marian L. (1934/5), and Jean I. (1937/8). Richard was born in North Plains, Washington County, Oregon, on December 28, 1910, the son of Helena Sue Johnson and William E. Rice, a farmer. Richard became financially successful in the early 1930s as an independent logger.

In the late 1930s, Richard and Helen began to casually gathered pebbles of agate and jasper while strolling Oregon beaches on weekends, and had them polished at a local rock shop. They found themselves mesmerized by the beauties of pattern and color that were revealed. They soon became members of the Oregon Agate and Mineral Society (OAMS) and took part in field trips to collect more agates, thundereggs, petrified wood and other "rockhound" desiderata. Before too long they became active in the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies (NFMS), and during the 1950s they took part in founding the local club that would become their central affiliation, the Tualatin Valley Gem Club (TVGC), many of whose members would later help in establishing the Rice Museum. In 1959-1960, Helen served as President of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS) and helped to write the first set of Uniform Rules for competitive exhibits at Federation shows.

Richard was always primarily interested in lapidary activities, but Helen increasingly leaned towards acquiring fine crystallized mineral specimens. The Rices exhibited their collection competitively at the annual shows of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, winning the most significant competitive mineral award of their time, the Woodruff Trophy (awarded annually by the AFMS from 1955 to 1961) in 1958 and 1961.

The couple built their house in the Oregon woods in the first years of the 1950s; by 1953 the house was finished, and the Rices, with their three daughters, moved in. In the big basement room the Tualatin Valley Gem Club held free classes on micromounting and jewelry making, the club held its regular meetings, and displays for shows were conceived. This room, now lined with recessed shelving fronted by glass, became the Museum's "Main Gallery," displaying its outstanding worldwide mineral collection.

In 1996 the Rices, by then well into their 80s, worked with their son-in-law Bill Harvey Sr. (husband of their daughter Sharleen) to incorporate the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals as a non-profit organization, and in 1997 the Museum received approved from the IRS as a 501(c)3 non-profit educational institution. Helen Rice died on February 4, 1997.

Reference:
MOORE, T. P. (2017) the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. Mineralogical Record, [in prep]
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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The Mineralogical Record - Helen Rice
The Mineralogical Record - Helen Rice
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