6 N Main • Caldwell, KS • 620-845-6424
Gwendolyn Ella (Williams) Rice was born on October 18, 1926 in the back bedroom of her parents farm six miles west of Caldwell, Kansas. She was the third child born to Clifford and Addie (Crumbliss) Williams. Her two older brothers, Glen and David and her two younger brothers, Jim and Tom, were born on the farm. Little sister, Kathy, arrived in 1946.
Gwen attended Bailey School, located near the farm, through 8th grade. She entered Caldwell High School in 1941, graduating with the Class of ‘44. She met Bob Rice her freshman year when he transferred to Caldwell from Wellington High School his junior year. Bob joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 and served in WWII. Gwen was involved in choir, band, orchestra, school plays and was selected as Homecoming Queen her Senior year. Gwen finished high school and then took an 8-week class at Pittsburg State to become an emergency teacher during the war. At age 17, she began teaching at Olive Branch School with eight students. She returned to Pittsburg the following summer and then taught at Corbin School for a year. She wrote Bob every day and earned $100 a month teaching school. When he returned home in 1946, they eloped to Wichita and were married on September 28, 1946.
Bob and Gwen lived in Corbin, Kansas where Bob worked for his dad and Gwen continued to teach in Caldwell. In the spring of 1947, she discovered she was going to have her first baby, so she finished the teaching year and became a “stay-at-home” mom.
Bob began working for the Corbin Oil Company which he later owned. Their first three children, Margaret, Suzanne, and Jolene were all born while living in Corbin.
Around 1952, Bob and Gwen bought their dream “little farm” two miles south of Corbin. Their fourth child, William, was born in 1955, and when Gwen discovered she was expecting the twins, Brent and Barbara, in 1958, they moved to a much larger home and farm two miles north of Corbin. Robert Scott and Leslie were born in 1964 and 1966.
In 1975 Bob and Gwen decided to build a new house back on the “little farm” and lived there for many years. Bob died in 1994 so Gwen moved to Caldwell in 1996 where she died on January 9, 2021.
Gwen taught dance lessons to her children, nieces, nephews, and other area youth for several years. She also played the piano by ear for Corbin School programs, senior citizens, and Caldwell Homecoming banquets. One year, as she and Margaret were walking out the door to go to the homecoming banquet, she stopped and said, “Oh, wait, I forgot my music.” Margaret said, “what music?” She returned with an old envelope that had the titles of the songs listed that she was going to play. She played for her family and every year at Christmas as the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered around to sing. Sitting down at the piano every day was a joy and relaxation for her. She would listen to a song, sit down, and play it.
Gwen was a member of the Corbin United Methodist Church and sang in a trio for years. As well as playing piano, she taught Sunday School, and always helped with the Corbin UMC Turkey Supper.
She died peacefully at her home in Caldwell on January 9, 2021. She was preceded in death by her husband of 48 years, Robert in 1994 and her son Scott, in 2009. Her four brothers, Glen, David, Jim and Tom also preceded her in death.
She is survived by seven of her children: Margaret Hardy (Jim), Suzanne Yunker (Galen); Jolene Roitman (Rick); Bill Rice; Brent Rice; Barbara Knowles; and Leslie Rice.
She is also survived by 21 grandchildren: Angie McKnight, Jon Dora, Samantha Crawford, Joshua Hardy, Stephany Harris, Greg Yunker, Rachel Hollis, Jessica Ricke, Carmen Hatfield, Rob Shoffner, Joe Shoffner, Kristin White, Jordyn Rice, Blake Rice, Austin Rice, Alisha Belmear, Shanna Hicks, Shelby Metcalf, Logan Pauly, Alexis Rice, and Corbin Rice. She has 35 great-grandchildren and one great-great -granddaughter. She is also survived by sister-in-law, Zena Williams and her favorite sister, Kathy Risley.
Several years ago, Gwen wrote a book about her life. She ended it by saying: “I have lots of memories, good and bad, but mostly good. I did what I wanted to do, marry my sailor, and have a family. A good life!”
Memorial Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, January 14, 2021 at Corzine Cemetery, Corbin, Kansas.
Memorials may be made in Gwen's name to the Corbin Ball Association or to the Sumner County District #1 Hospital Construction fund and sent in care of the mortuary.
Friends may register 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.