Donations Honor Joe Rice with SIC Scholarship

May 13, 2019

Southeastern Illinois College President, Dr. Jonah Rice and his wife, Megin, began two scholarships to area students in 2015. The scholarships, in honor of their parents were to supplement unfilled gaps in financial awards for tuition and related expenses.

One of those scholarships, the Murphy-Rice Scholarship received an outpouring of donations last month, in memory of Dr. Rice’s father, Joe Rice. A total of $1,770 was donated for the scholarship, and the number keeps growing.

"Joe would have been humbled by the funds donated to the scholarship in his honor,” said Lulu Belle Rice, loving wife of Joe Rice. “We always encouraged education in our home and have enjoyed knowing this scholarship can help deserving students."

The Murphy-Rice scholarship is given each year to an SIC student who chooses to major in Career and Technical Education (CTE), Humanities, or Social Sciences. The scholarship is awarded to an applicant with strong grades and work ethic.

"The Rice-Murphy scholarship originated as a gift to honor my parents for their interests in disciplines that they promoted in our home and the value they placed on a college education," said Dr. Jonah Rice. “I can vividly remember my dad playing opera albums on our old console stereo system after working outside all day. My mother was the same way--always busy working for family but took time to appreciate the arts and politics.  She's been an election judge for decades."

Joe Rice attended the Harrisburg schools before enlisting in the Army during the Korean War. He was stationed in Alaska with the Corps of Engineers. It was there that Joe learned about diesel mechanics.

He then worked for Caterpillar in East Peoria before marrying his girlfriend of four years, Lulu Belle (Murphy) Rice, and they moved back to southern Illinois to raise a family.

Joe retired as water superintendent of the Carrier Mills Water District.

Family and friends knew Joe to have a jovial personality, possessing a robust laugh, as he loved life and all it had to offer. He was known to have an exceptional work ethic, "working as hard for a dime as you do a dollar," as he used to say.

He was a provider by nature, not only providing for his family but helping others who needed help. Joe never saw a class system or believed anyone was better than another. He had a true humanitarian approach to life.

His battle with cancer was hard fought, and he no longer wished to suffer from the fight. He passed away April 1, 2019.

"My father had a hard-working blue-collar job and took great pride in it, but he also had an appreciation for the arts, politics, and history,” said Dr. Jonah Rice. “I already miss him terribly, but I’m thankful for the time I had with him. I also appreciate the thoughtfulness of those who have provided for the continuation of this scholarship in his honor.”

SIC offers over $600,000 annually in scholarships to help students achieve their educational goals. To apply for scholarships, applicants must complete the scholarship application and essay by Feb. 28 for the upcoming academic year. 

To establish a scholarship to support students in the area, contact Alli Armstrong, SIC Foundation institutional advancement officer at 618-252-5400, ext. 2104 or