Living in a retirement community, you probably read that headline and thought, “RIP” but don’t worry; this story hasn’t anything to do with that kind of ‘gone.’
Have you ever met that one person that impresses you so much that you want to gush over them?
Former Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant Director Fran Armstrong has seen many of Mesquite’s finest women; women who in one way or another enhance their community. Some of the woman Armstrong sees don’t mind being onstage and highlighting their accomplishments but Armstrong would love to highlight the accomplishments of all of Mesquite’s finest women; even those who don’t appear in the public eye and are, according to Armstrong, very humble.
Connie Rice is one of the women Armstrong would like everyone to meet. She has been in the public eye but you may or may not have noticed her in the group of Mesquite Toes.
Rice was a long-time member of the Mesquite Toes Tap Team traveling to all their wonderful destinations with them. She served on the committee for the Toes to gain their 501c3 status, chaired the committee that formed their bylaws, served as a member at large on the BOD and avidly supports all the arts.
Rice was also an active member of the League of Women Voters and a longtime member of the Desert Dames. All of that since she’s moved to Mesquite; it’s no wonder Armstrong brags about her friend.
Armstrong said, “Connie is such a remarkable person. A few years ago, she was becoming increasingly weak. At her birthday party, she didn’t have the strength to blow out the one candle on her cake. After many referrals to PT for her frailness, a doctor referred her to a neurologist and she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
“She is a miracle. She attends exercise classes, and between her efforts and her meds, she keeps improving. She’s just beating that disease to the ground. She will be celebrating her 81st birthday soon. She’s a member of the Lifetime Fitness program at the Recreation Center, she takes pilates, yoga and chair exercise; nothing stops her.”
Rice has been a resident of Mesquite since 2000 but it is the years prior to her move here that speak volumes about the strength of this woman and why she won’t give up her fight.
Rice moved from California to Bluffdale, Utah, before the town was official; it had a population of 1,200 and a gas station.
Rice began taking notes for the committee that wanted to incorporate the town. When the committee’s efforts turned successful, she officially became the city recorder.
Being city recorder was her official title but she wore the hats of: recorder, public works director, animal control officer, economic development coordinator, human resources manager, school district liaison, financial officer and city administrator and after 17 years of wearing these hats, finally received the title and raise she deserved.
For many years, Rice served in these positions as a volunteer because the city wasn’t yet receiving any tax money; the city adopted its own charter in 1978 and it was a while before Rice became the only paid employee, earning a small salary for her efforts.
In 1995 that changed but it didn’t change Rice. According to an article from that time, townsfolk say, “She got a raise and a new title but she’s doing the same things she’s been doing for years and that’s about everything; there was a time Rice collected stray dogs, helped bury the city’s dead at the Redwood Cemetery and drove her son around town reading water meters.”
Twenty years later Rice is no longer the town “everything” but they sure haven’t forgotten her; they are honoring her in August. Rice has received the town’s highest honor, she’s been asked to serve as the Grand Marshall for Bluffdale’s anniversary parade.
It’s no wonder Armstrong is proud of her friend and wants to share her good news.
Bluffdale certainly benefitted from many years of Rice’s hard work but Armstrong feels that a beautiful shooting star raced across the skies one fateful night in the year 2000 and it landed right here in Mesquite.