Jennifer (Jenny) Margaret Pomainville Rice, 83, of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, died on the evening of December 25, 2023, at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, from congestive heart failure.
Jenny was born on November 9, 1940, in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, to Dr. Leland and Margaret Pomainville. She was the second of their three daughters, including older sister, Ann Hacker and younger sister, Martha Pomanville.
Jenny is survived by her beloved spouse, Maurice (Maury) Rice, and their three children-Margaret (Maggie) Rice (spouse James Morsch) of Chicago, Illinois; Katherine (Katie) Rice Jones (spouse Bradley Jones) of San Anselmo, California; and Dr. Gregory (Greg) Rice (spouse Jennifer Martin Rice) of La Crosse, Wisconsin; and their seven grandchildren - Evan Morsch, Eleanor Morsch, Rachel Rice, Laura Rice, Allison Rice, Evelyn Jones, and Camilla Jones. She is also survived by her in-laws, Maury's brother and sister, and her nine nieces and two nephews, who she considered like her own children.
Jenny grew up in Wisconsin Rapids and was raised in the Catholic faith. As a young child, she was stricken with rheumatic fever and suffered some complications. Jenny's disease was particularly debilitating during her first-grade school year, and her mother, a teacher, homeschooled her.
Jenny attended Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, and during that time, she participated in a dizzying array of activities and leadership, including All-School Play, Belle Cantos, Chemistry Club, Class Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice-President, Declamation Club, Debate, Dramatic Club, Historian, Girls' Athletic Association, Lincoln Lights Staff Managing Editor, National Forensic League, National Thespian Society, Northwestern Institute of Speech, House Council, Operetta, Pep Club Vice-President, Prom Committee, and Student Council. During the summers, Jenny attended college-bound summer programs like the National High School Institute, a rigorous Northwestern University's 5-week performing arts program. Jenny graduated with honors from high school in 1958.
Following high school graduation, she attended the University of Wisconsin and was an active Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority member. Jenny was selected to join the summer acting program at the University of Colorado at Boulder during summer break. On June 4, 1962, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in speech and drama. Upon graduation, Jenny's parents gifted her a trip to Europe. During the trip, she ran into her future husband, Maury, a long-time family friend, at the Grand Casino in Lucerne, Switzerland. After a few cocktails, the two decided they were meant for each other.
In 1963, Jenny earned her teaching credential and started an eighth-grade English teaching position at Butte de Morts Junior High in Menasha, Wisconsin.
On August 8, 1964, Maury and Jenny married at Saint Vincent Catholic Church in Wisconsin Rapids. Ann, Martha, and Maury's sister, Elizabeth Rice, served as bridesmaids. Their reception was held immediately following at the Wisconsin Rapids Country Club. The couple honeymooned in Montreal and Quebec, Canada, and Boston, Massachusetts. After the nuptials, Jenny joined Maury in Madison, Wisconsin, where he attended law school, and she taught English and speech at Madison Central Junior High.
After Maury's graduation, the couple moved to Wisconsin Rapids, where Maury was appointed an assistant district attorney, and shortly thereafter, they welcomed their first child, Maggie. Two years later, the family moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin (Maury's hometown). Jenny accepted a new position at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, while Maury joined the Peikert and Anderson law firm. In the years that followed, the couple welcomed two more children-a daughter, Katie, and a son, Greg.
In 1974, Jenny was selected for a teaching position at P.J. Jacobs Junior High School, where she taught seventh- and eighth-grade English and drama. She remained at P.J.'s for most of her career except for a short stint at Ben Franklin Junior High. At the age of 60, she retired from teaching. Her retirement party was held to much fanfare at the Stevens Point Country Club.
Throughout her life, Jenny was an avid traveler, visiting various destinations, including England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, and the Virgin Islands. She also spent many summers in Green Lake, Wisconsin, winters in Naples, Florida, and Palm Desert, California, and regularly visited her beloved grandchildren in Madison, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
When Jenny wasn't working or traveling, she volunteered for several organizations, including Operation Bootstrap, a nonprofit organization that operates a food pantry, St. Michael's Hospital/Rice Medical Center, and United States Power Squadrons, an organization that looks to improve maritime safety and boating enjoyability. She also enjoyed a variety of activities, including golfing; bridge playing; reading, and participating in book clubs; walking the Green Circle Trail through Moses Creek; boating, especially with her father; leprechaun-ish dancing; eating vanilla soft-serve twist cones with chocolate dip; laughing with her friends; finding lost items for Maury; expanding her knowledge by taking college courses; playing Sudoku; and taking her grandchildren to parks, museums, and University of Wisconsin's Grandparent University two-day camp.
To most, she was known as a "whirling dervish" with a witty tongue, a Cheshire-Cat smile, and a bright-blue twinkle in her eye. She was a stoic woman who expressed her love through teasing, poking fun, remembering everything you wish she'd forget, stating the obvious (at least to her), and in the good deeds and caregiving she bestowed upon her family and community.
To her family, she was a tiny fireball who will blaze brightly in our hearts forever.
A memorial service will be held on June 8, 2024, at 11:00 am at Saint Bronislava Parish, 3200 Plover Road, Plover, Wisconsin. Prior to the service, a visitation will be held at 10:00 am in the church's gathering room. A private burial will be held at a later date in Restlawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her name to Operation Bootstrap Inc. in Stevens Point.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Rice family. To share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com.