As soon as I could turned into a couple of months. Finally in the heat of the summer I placed a call to Mr. Rice. We set up a meeting at his house on Lake Barkley in Canton. One meeting was in no way sufficient. It took a second meeting for me to even begin to comprehend what this man had accomplished in his life. After two meetings, four hours of conversation, looking at scores of pictures and reading hundreds of documents I returned home. Upon sitting down to begin my column I became frightened for two reasons. One, I realized a book should be written about Roy Rice, not just a column. Two, there is no way that I can do his life justice. That said, I will give my best effort to introduce you to Mr. Roy Rice.
Have you ever seen the hit television series Justified? It is based on a US Marshall in Eastern Kentucky. The show has both nothing and everything to do with Roy Rice. You see, Roy actually lived in Eastern Kentucky and was smack dab in the middle of the action. Before we get to that let us take a look back at Roy’s life.
Roy Rice grew up in Boyd County. Boyd County is located in far northeastern Kentucky at the tip of West Virginia and Ohio. Roy lived about 4 miles from where the plane crashed that carried the Marshall University football team back in the 70’s. He graduated from Ashland High School in 1952. His wife Ruth graduated from Boyd County High School in 1954. After his high school graduation, Roy drove a produce truck for five years. He then drove a milk truck. Yes, he was actually a milkman who delivered bottles of cold milk door to door to folk’s in those days. (For all of you readers over 50 who remember those days, smile and go get you a cold glass of milk as you finish the column) After his stint as the milkman Roy and his wife Ruth ran Rice’s grocery on Bear Creek for ten years.
Please focus as we continue on with Roy’s work history. The next few jobs will all end up tying together. While in the grocery business, Roy received an offer to work for the Kentucky Department of Motor Transportation. He would be in charge of running the scales that weighed the big trucks including the ones carrying coal that passed through the mountains. After three years of doing this job, Roy was asked to run for Sheriff of Boyd County. Despite being a Republican in a 3-1 Democratic county, Roy was elected. Oh how the stories will flow from that job in the coming weeks.
Back in those days you could not succeed yourself as Sheriff. So after his term, Roy went to Quantico Virginia to receive training to become an Investigator for the Commonwealth Attorney. Before he could take that job, newly formed Ashland Coal Corporation offered him a job as the Manager of Security. Roy remained in that position for 20 years, retiring in 1997. He then ran for County Commissioner in Boyd County, equivalent to the position of magistrate in Trigg County. He won the race and served out his term.
After this long and colorful work career, Roy and his wife Ruth moved to Trigg County to live on Lake Barkley. The Rice’s have three daughters, Billie, Vivian and Terri. They have a son named Paris. Billie just happens to be married to former Trigg County graduate and football standout Tug Greer. The Rice’s are also proud to have four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Now you have met Roy Rice. Next week we will delve into in his past as a skeet shooting champion. From there we will look at his career as an Eastern Kentucky Sheriff.
In closing I might add that Roy is one of the most humble men I have ever met. I had to find him to produce this column. He has never been one to advertise or brag about his accomplishments. Thanks again for the assist Harry. Tune in next week for the real life of an Eastern Kentucky Lawman.
OT: Congratulations to Mr. Shannon Burcham upon his selection as TCHS Principal.
OTT: Got to visit Cincinnati’s fairly new Great American Ballpark last week and see a walk off homerun as the Reds beat the Cardinals 6-5. Sorry about that for all the great Cardinals fans out there.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.