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09/27/2021 10:45 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate

John Stanley Rice



Session Position District Party
1933-1934 33 Democrat
1935-1936 33 Democrat
1937-1938 33 Democrat
1939-1940 President Pro Tempore 33 Democrat
 Counties   Adams, Franklin


1899 - 1985

The Honorable John S. Rice was born in Brysonia, Menallen Township, Adams County on January 28, 1899, the son of Leighton H. and Florence Jane Hartman Rice. He received his education at public schools, later earning a Phi Beta Kappa from Gettysburg College and an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Temple University. He married Luene Rogers of Troy New York after graduation. The future senator entered World War I as a private in 1918, continuing military service as first chair of the 1941 Pennsylvania Salvage Drive, and a Major in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Major Rice served as a “personnel officer, attached to the North Atlantic Air Transport Command Division” and proved “instrumental in forming a prayer squadron,” widely considered a “morale builder for the division.” Rice received the Legion of Merit, retiring as a Colonel. After his stint in World War I, John resided in Arendtsville, Adams County through 1934 and pioneered a fruit packing supply business, serving as president of the Rice, Trew, and Rice Company, Biglerville. He assumed a position in similar capacity for the State Container Company, 1947-1955. John sold his business interests in 1955, the enterprises becoming the Rice Fruit Company and the Inland Container Company. John represented Adams County in the Senate of Pennsylvania from 1932 to 1940. During the Earle administration, he served as Harvey Huffman’s Democratic Appropriations chairman and majority floor leader (1937-1938). He succeeded the deceased Huffman as pro tem in 1938, losing a controversial Senate election for the same position during the Republican revival in 1938-1939. He was a fiscal conservative, often voting the Republican line on many Little New Deal relief bills. The senator presented a measure denying “compensation insurance for work relief employees,” whose jobs emerged through the work relief program. Rice voted for ratification of the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition; and subsequently opposed a Pinchot “dry” initiative, levying prohibitive taxation on liquor, beer, and wine. On a related front, John supported Republican Harry Scott’s state (Liquor) store system. He supported the second (1933) attempt at ratifying a federal “Under 18 Child Labor Law” and the formation of Pinchot’s State Emergency Relief Board. He retired from the Senate in 1940. Colonel Rice lost a 1946 bid for governor to Republican James F. Duff of Pittsburgh. Under Governor George Leader he received a 1956 appointment as secretary for the Department of Property and Supplies, and was later promoted by Governor David Leo Lawrence as Secretary of the Commonwealth, 1958-1961. During the same period, 1959-1961, John received the nod as chair of the Democratic State Committee. President John F. Kennedy awarded Rice with an appointment as ambassador to the Hague (Netherlands), 1961-1965. He returned from diplomatic service, reassuming his position as Democratic State Committee chairman, 1965-1968. Ambassador Rice was a committed public servant, a member of the Gettysburg College Board of Trustees from 1939 to 1972, its chair, 1955-1961, and president of the college, 1955-1956. John additionally served as a trustee of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg from 1941 through 1955, serving in the same capacity as director of the Gettysburg National Bank. Named chairman of the 75th commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg, Rice proved “instrumental in the installation of the Peace Light Memorial.” He retired in 1972, moving to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Honorable John Stanley Rice passed away in Florida on August 2, 1985.