Dozens of people surreptitiously made their way to the Eureka Grand Canyon Ballroom at noon on June 13, where finishing touches were being added to birthday party preparations. The Veterans Honor Guard quietly filed in. Piper Dennis Hangey arrived in full regalia, carefully cradling his bagpipes so they wouldn’t issue a premature squeak and tip off the unsuspecting honored guest who was wandering the casino with her friends who had treated her to lunch. Everyone greeted familiar friends and waited in anticipation of the arrival of the honoree.
Then, the bagpipe sounds a processional! The crowd stands and applauds! The honored guest, Dr. Ann Rice, enters the ballroom on the arm of her dear friend Jim Wilson. Ann was visibly astounded as she entered the gala room that was set on her behalf. Her lunch buddies, Yoli Bell and Gloria George, beamed as they saw the huge crowd that kept this 90th birthday celebration a surprise for their longtime friend.
After the Honor Guard Presentation of the Colors and the National Anthem was sung, Mayor Al Litman read a City Proclamation officially declaring June 13, 2018, as “Dr. Ann Rice Day” in Mesquite. As he recounted many of the contributions Dr. Rice has made to the community, audience members smiled and nodded as they heard a listing of the organizations and special interests that Dr. Rice has wholeheartedly supported.
Nobody in Mesquite is more deserving of a milestone birthday party and a City proclamation in her honor. Dr. Ann Rice has been a mainstay of the community since she settled here with her husband Mike 20 years ago. Over the years this lovely woman has truly made her mark on the community through her sense of volunteerism, generosity, and friendship.
While her impact has been felt in all corners of the city, nowhere has she done more than in her support of education of the young people of the area. Rice is a retired university professor who taught over 25 different subjects and authored a number of textbooks. She has been a lifelong champion of the power of education. Her generous support to many kindergarten through grade 12 programs in the Valley has been remarkable. Most notably, she underwrote purchase of over 3500 Chrome Book computers for every student in the Virgin Valley and Moapa Valley schools. Dr. Rice, with the organizational support of Jim Wilson, set out to assure that no student in rural northeast Clark County would be without the opportunity to learn essential computer skills. Their “Get Smart” nonprofit organization has made that mission a reality.
Surveying the roomful of guests who gathered to celebrate Dr. Rice on her 90th birthday, the
depth and breadth of her friendships was evident. Every person in attendance has benefited from her sage advice, kindness, and unwavering personal support. She has served on the boards of Mesa View Hospital, Grater Mesquite Arts Foundation, Mesquite Cancer HELP Society, Rotary Club, Southern Nevada Symphony Orchestra, and others. She has been a joyful volunteer for golf tournaments and many community groups. She was named Mesquite Citizen of the Year in 2010 and Grand Marshal of the Mesquite Days Parade in 2018.
Many lessons can be taken from this lady who has given her time, her heart, and her financial support to so many worthy causes. She never seeks personal influence, she simply exudes it. She leads by example. She provides considerable financial support where she feels it can serve the greater good. And most of all, she is a true friend to the people of Mesquite.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Ann Rice. May you enjoy many, many more healthy, happy years here in this grateful community that loves you.