John Rice, who oversaw custodial services at Flagler and had been a fixture on the campus for more than three decades, died on Sept. 25 at the age of 53.
Charged in his fatal shooting was his 96-year-old aunt, who had been living with him in West Augustine.
Rice had worked at Flagler for more than 33 years, starting when he was hired in 1978 as a janitor. He was named senior custodian in 1986, head custodian a year later, and in 2007 became supervisor of Custodial and Housekeeping Services at Flagler in charge of a staff of 16 employees.
Victor Cheney, Flagler’s plant superintendent and Rice’s boss, called him a friend to everyone on campus.
“He had a calm and caring attitude for the people that surrounded him,” Cheney said. “John always looked forward to graduation. He would develop relationships with the college students and encourage them. He would stand outside the gym and shake hands and hug all of the soon to be graduates with congratulations. Encouragement is the ability to give another courage. John was big on encouragement.”
“John had served the College with energy, diligence, and good humor for 33 years,” said Flagler President William T. Abare Jr. “He was a cheerful presence and a friend to all. He will be greatly missed.”
More than 100 staff, faculty and students joined together for a vigil to remember Rice and share memories in the Palm Garden on Sept. 26.
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