Jerry Rice, age 80, of St. Paul, formerly of Dassel, died Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, at Lyngblomsten Care Center, St. Paul, after a four-year battle with cancer.
A memorial service will take place Saturday, Jan. 25 at 4:30 p.m. at First Covenant Church, 1280 Arcade Street, St. Paul.
Jerry was born Nov. 28, 1939, in Sioux City, IA.
At age 6, he moved to a farm on the edge of Dassel.
Jerry met his future wife, Clarice Oberg, when he was in second grade and she was in first grade. They were married June 13, 1959, and had shared 60 years of marriage at the time of his death.
Jerry graduated from Dassel High School in 1957, the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) in 1961, and North Park Theological Seminary (Chicago) in 1966. He was ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church in June 1968.
After a two-year internship in LeRoy and Tustin, MI, Jerry served as pastor of three Evangelical Covenant churches: Stromsburg, NE; Cadillac, MI; and for 17 years, Roseville, MN.
After leaving Roseville Covenant, he served for 12 years on the staff of the Covenant’s Northwest Conference, in the areas of church planting, evangelism, and administration.
While assisting a congregation in Sioux Falls, SD to organize the first South Sudanese Covenant Church, he became friends with many South Sudanese refugees. Working alongside them, this led to the organizing of several more South Sudanese congregations; and eventually led to numerous trips to Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya to lay the foundation of the Evangelical Covenant Church of South Sudan and Ethiopia. Beginning first in refugee camps, this new denomination spread into Sudan as refugees returned. By 2019, the new denomination had grown to over 400 congregations with over 40,000 members.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Harold Walter Rice, Sr. and Mildred Irene (Harris) Rice; and a brother, Harold “Hal” Walter Rice, Jr..
He is survived by his wife, Clarice “Claire;” sons Randy (Ramona), Timothy (Amy), and Jonathan (Julie); daughter Suzanne (Marcelo De Leon); a brother, Dennis John Rice; sister-in-law Sonja (Morning) Rice; and 12 grandchildren: Robin, Lowell, Ariel, Chloe, Andrew, Milo, Jonah, Ysabel, Yliana, Josiah, Giovanni, and Millie.
Jerry arranged for whole body donation to the University of Minnesota Anatomy Bequest Program to assist in their medical research endeavors.
Memorial gifts in his honor can be sent to Evangelical Covenant Church (8303 W Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631) to honor his work with the Sudanese; or to First Covenant Church (1280 Arcade Street Saint Paul, MN 55106), where Jerry and his wife, Claire were faithful members since 1989.