Kenneth Earl Rice
September 14, 1939 – October 14, 2020
Ken Rice, a Big Canoe pioneer and revered American football legend, died Wednesday, Oct. 14 after a long illness. He was 81.
He was preceded in death by his wife Billie Ann Rice, who died June 7, 2014 after 50 years of marriage to Rice. His survivors are daughters Kathleen Ingram (Bo), Annette Hall (Nelson), granddaughter Emily Ryan (Roy) and great-grandson Levy Ryan.
A native of Bainbridge, Ga., Rice played offensive tackle at Auburn University from 1957 – 1960. He was inducted into the Auburn Hall of Fame in 1988, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. He went on to a professional career with the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins.
In a 2007 interview with Smoke Signals, Rice shared one of his “standout” football memories: "Most years, Auburn played Georgia in Columbus [Ga.] but in 1960, our team took on UGA at Auburn. With less than a minute to go, Auburn kicked a field goal for a score of 9 to UGA's 6. When Auburn kicked to Georgia, the UGA kick return player ran the ball up the field. I tackled the player on the eight-yard line with seconds to go and saved the game for Auburn."
His contributions as a resident and builder of homes in Big Canoe began when Tom Cousins first opened the dirt roads of his Big Canoe development and found friends in Rice and his family.
It is fitting that a service of remembrance for Rice be held on Billie Ann’s mountain in Eagle’s Rest Park on top of Mount Oglethorpe. The service will take place on the Eastern Viewing Deck—overlooking Big Canoe—beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. Friends and Eagle’s Rest board members John Feight and Don Wells will speak. Brandans Bedingfield will play the flute during the release of doves.
The Big Canoe Sanderlin Gate, leading into Eagle’s Rest Park, will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on October 24. For those not entering through Big Canoe, use this GPS address: 5714 Monument Road, Jasper, 30143 to find the park.