Sara Findlay Rice

History Faculty
Miss Sara Findlay Rice, born in Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, 1856, died at Hot Springs, Arkansas, September 2, 1922. Her father, Perry A. Rice, died in her early childhood, leaving her mother, Elizabeth Findlay Rice, to care for a family of four children. Of these children, two brothers, John Rice and Robert Rice of Ouray, Colorado, survive to mourn the loss of their only sister. Miss Rice spent her childhood, girlhood, and later womanhood days with Mrs. Rice until Mrs. Rice's death in September 1907. The devotion of the daughter was supreme, heightened by the loss of the husband and father whose care for each must be thus supplied. Miss Rice spent her school days in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, there graduating from a college open only to men. Because of this, though all the work of the course was completed, she received no degree. Later, after coming to Iowa, she received the degree of A. M. from Coe College, Iowa. Besides the formal education of the school, Miss Rice gained much through her travel experiences and wide reading. She was a keen observer in travel and a rare reader, interpreting readily and organizing her material logically so that she never lacked information or ability to use it. She was one of the very best platform speakers among men as well as women; her services in this line were sought both by church and school. She never failed to give a message so vital that it took root in the minds and heart of her audience. One notable address on Lincoln given at the Iowa State Teachers College was published by authority of the state Board of Education; another, entitled "God in History", has been especially commended as a powerful message appealing for higher citizenship and nobler living. After graduation during the early 1880's, Miss Rice and her mother came to Osceola, Iowa, where the brothers lived, they having come several years earlier. Here for several years, she was principal of the high school. Her excellence in her chosen profession led to a request that she take a similar position in Boone, Iowa. There, for thirteen years she worked for and with the boys and girls of the high school, always putting their interest first and with untiring devotion to each task, though it might not always be pleasant. She taught them not only the lessons of life, but spoke to them daily through her own life rich in fine examples of conduct and strong in its convictions of right and wrong. All of these old pupils, who are now actors in the business and professional world, will honor her memory and rank it a rare privilege to have been her pupil. In 1898 the Iowa State Normal School of Cedar Falls appointed Miss Rice a member of its faculty. Since that time, with one year in the English department and the remaining years in the history department, until February 1922, when she was granted a leave of absence, she has been a teacher. Her work has been marked by the unusual character of thoroughness, sympathy, and insight. Her activities were as broad as the varied interests of the college--the classroom, the Christian Associations, and the literary societies. In fact, to all things that made for the welfare of the school, she gave especial thought and constant inspiration by her cheerful helpfulness. One needed only to ask to be sure of her willing cooperation in whatever undertaking was being planned. As a faculty member she was loved by all, her judgments were sincere, her criticism kindly, her friendship real. It is a tribute too small for her large nature to say that she was an excellent teacher, friend, and co-worker. She was more than that, for in all these she was ideal. Her religious affiliation was with the Presbyterian Church to which she gave unstintedly, working in every possible way to further its interests, but her catholicity of thinking make her unsectarian in friendship and in sympathy for all those who labored for the cause of Christ. Few could excel her in knowledge of the Bible and its interpretation, a fact that made her a recognized leader in all Christian teaching. The following sentences from a recent letter to a friend attest to her perfect faith in God: "Every day and all the day a song sings in my heart--the goodness of God." As her descent was from Pennsylvania pioneers, many of her ancestors were participants in the struggle of American independence, thus linking her with the patriots of another day, perhaps inspiring her in the many deeds and the forceful appeals made for true patriotism. This gave her great interest in the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, her membership of recent years being in the Cedar Falls Chapter. In social life, while not a society woman in the narrow sense, Miss Rice was a peer; in power to entertain, supreme; in repartee, ever keen but never caustic; in sympathy, strong and loving; in ability to parry thought with thought, unequaled; in judgment of character, keen and yet just; in service to others, faultlessly generous. The world is richer for her life; its influence undying, for far, far into the future lies the fruition of that life. "Nor eulogy nor elegy she needs to tell her praise. Illumined lives will speak her words and deeds. Through countless days." College Eye, September 13, 1922, page 1, with extensive editing by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson.