HARRISON — Virginia Merrill Rice, 70, of Harrison, passed away Tuesday, March 14, due to sudden illness.

Ginny, as she was known to family and friends, was born in Lewiston on Nov. 22, 1946, the daughter and eldest child of Clarence “Sonny” and Marjorie Melisse Merrill. She was educated in Paris schools and graduated from Oxford Hills High School in 1964 where she was a majorette and cheerleader and inducted into the National Honor Society in 1963. Ginny went on to graduate from the Auburn Maine School of Commerce in 1965.

Ginny married George Wayne Rice on April 17, 1965, and had two children, Michael and Georgia. They spent the first few years as a family moving around New England, eventually returning to South Paris and finally settling on the hill in Norway Center where they built the family farm. Ginny worked for several years in the Special Education Department at Oxford Hills High School before helping to run the family construction business. As her children grew up she was active in the Oxford Hills Mothers Club, Paris Alumni Association, North Norway 4-H Club, local Cub Scout and Brownie Scout programs and attending school and sports events.

After her children finished school she served the community as a director on the SAD 17 school board, as well as supporting various community groups. She later went to work at the Candle Place and took great pride in assisting customers in the Wedding and Greeting Card sections of the store for nearly 16 years. The favorite part of her job there was helping local residents with gift selections and meeting and befriending many summer residents and seasonal tourists who would return year after year to say hello.

Ginny loved her flower and vegetable gardens, the family pets and the farm animals. She often commented about never thinking that she would someday be a farmer but became quite adept in the fields and barn and taught her children the farm life and work ethic by leading through example. She enjoyed family snowmobile trips, annual summer trips to Hampton Beach and spending time at the family camp on Island Pond. Ginny opened her home to her children’s friends and school groups and loved to orchestrate marathon pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners for their high school and college sports teams. She also loved to travel, meeting new people and learning about new places and often talked about her travels to various parts of the United States, Canada and France.

Her great joy was in watching her grandchildren grow up and following their progress in school, hearing about their travels and discussing their thoughts about their experiences. She encouraged her children to follow their own path and to explore the world outside of where they were raised by any means available so that they could better understand it. She did the same for her grandchildren.

She is survived by her brother, Steve Merrill and his wife, Carol, of Norway; sister Linda Tenney of Springfield, Va.; son, Michael Rice, and partner, Jill Mason, of Marshfield, Mass.; daughter, Georgia Vallee, and husband, Rusty, of Turner; grandson Michael Vallee of Turner; granddaughter Jennifer Vallee and partner, Max Ritchie, of Orono; granddaughter Abigail Rice of Marshfield, Mass.; stepmother Bernice Merrill of Oxford; niece Christina Wilcox and husband, Chad, of Orono; great-nephew Rowan Wilcox of Orono; the many Komulainen and Collette cousins; and her cat, Scotty.

Online condolences and memories may be shared with her family at www.chandlerfunerals.com.

Virginia M. Rice

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