On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Jerome (Jerry) Michael Rice passed away peacefully at 86 in the presence of family at Overlook Medical Center after battling COVID-19. Jerry was born on September 13, 1933 in Elizabeth, NJ to John & Genevieve Rice.
From 1952 to 1955, Jerry served his country as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. During the Korean War, he flew with the 1st Marine Air Wing as a radar operator and was one of the ‘Frozen Chosin: The Marines at the Changjin Reservoir’ during one of the greatest Battles in Marine Corps history. During this battle, American forces were surrounded, vastly outnumbered and facing mass slaughter in brutally cold mountains near the Chinese border.
Jerry was part of the flight crews on supply transports that ferried in desperately needed supplies which helped the Marines battle out of the trap bringing with them all their wounded as well as the Army wounded from the same area. It was a tactical marvel, and one that is held in the highest regard throughout the Marine Corps! In 1957, he was Commandant in the Marine Corps League with the Elizabeth Detachment. Jerry was honored as the Marine of the Year in 2018 with the Central Jersey Leathernecks Detachment and received a Proclamation from the Mayor and Council, Boro of Mountainside.
His Marine Corps ribbons, medals & badges include: Marine Corps Combat Air Crew Wings; Air Medal Ribbon; Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Ribbon; Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation; United Nations Service Korea Medal; United Nations Medal; Republic of Korea War Service Ribbon; as well as the Expert Riflemen's Badge and the Marksman Pistol Badge.
Following in Jerry’s footsteps to serve their country, son, James Richard served as a Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps; his grandson, Michael Jerome Rice is an active Staff Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps and his grandson, James Michael Rice is an active Sergeant with the United States Army.
After his service in the United States Marine Corp, on February 5, 1962 Jerry joined the Mountainside Police Department as a patrolman. He was promoted on December 19, 1967 to Detective Sergeant, a position he held for over 34 years until his retirement on April 30, 1996. Throughout his career, Det. Sgt. Rice received numerous awards and recognitions for exhibiting his high degree of professionalism, integrity, and dedication that went above and beyond the call of duty. The most prestigious award he earned was attending the FBI National Academy 98th Session through the US Department of Justice, where he completed 12 weeks of training on September 12, 1975 in Quantico, Virginia.
Jerry served as the 13th President of the New Jersey Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association (NJNEOA) during the 1977-1978 term. He rose to that position after serving as a member of the Board of Directors, and as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Vice-Presidents, he was active with the Association until 2017. He also completed the US Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs course on November 8, 1968. In addition, he served as the President & Treasurer of the Municipal Investigators Association of Union County and was a respected Life Member.
Jerry was so proud of his family, and several generations served or are serving New Jersey as first responders. Among those were his predeceased brothers, Lawrence A. Rice, Chief of Middlesex County, NJ College Police Department; John S. Rice, Captain of the Elizabeth, NJ Fire Department. Son, John R. Rice Sr., (retired) Sergeant of the Summit, NJ. Police Department; son-in-law, John J. Shimansky, (retired) Port Authority of NY & NJ; and grandson John R. Rice Jr., Patrolman of the Piscataway, NJ Police Department. Jerry often was described as a true, “Cops-Cop” that left imprints of ‘on the job’ memories in the hearts of so many.
Jerry was a member of several organizations that included: Central Jersey Leathernecks of the Marine Corp League; Union County Emerald Society; Mountainside Honorary PBA#126; Mountainside Elks Club; Mountainside VFW; Union–Somerset County Police & Fire Association; American Legion of Scotch Plains and many other charitable organizations. He also supported the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade throughout the years. Jerry was proud of his Irish Heritage and enjoyed the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, as well as eating corned beef and listening to Irish music!
Jerry's love for his country and the American flag was only overshadowed by the love and pride for his family. On April 30, 1966, Jerry married the love of his life, Audrey Rose, whom he endearingly referred to as ‘Red’. Together they built a life of love, and he lived for the moments he was able to be in the presence of his large, boisterous family that included the many, many grandchildren and great grandchildren he adored.
If he wasn’t with family you'd find Jerry at the pool hall ‘shooting the breeze’ with friends, having what he referred to as his "medicine" – a rum & coke – at Chrone's or Publick House, or having his cup of coffee among dear friends at the Mountainside Deli. He also loved TV and Jerry could often be found sitting in his chair with his TV guide watching anything with cops, guns, cowboys or comedy. He loved his music too and could often be found listening to Irish tunes, Jimmy Buffett, and ABBA.
Jerry was tough as nails and a fighter until the very end. He will be deeply missed by all. ‘Jer, Pop, Dad, Grandpa, Pop-Pop, Sarge, Mr. Rice’ – you will always, and FOREVER be our fiercely loving patriarch, hero, warrior, teacher, listener, best friend, father, grandfather and loving husband. We love you. We already miss you so much – until we meet again.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Audrey Rose. Daughters, Karen Ann Shimansky (John); Eileen Veronica. Sons, Joseph Robert; James Richard (Barbara); John Raymond; 21 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; several nieces & nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Lawrence A. Rice; John S. Rice, granddaughter, Kellie A. Shimansky and great granddaughter, Hope E. Rice.
Sadly, due to the current national pandemic, Jerry's "Celebration of Life" gathering will be determined at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to:
Wounded Warrior Project
P.O. BOX 758517
Topkea, KS 66675