Thelma Yvonne Rice
June 23, 1928 – October 11, 2023
Thelma Yvonne Chrisman was born June 23, 1928, in Pender, Nebraska to Spurgeon Charles Chrisman and Maudie Marie Mason Chrisman. She joined her older brother, Monte, who at first complained about “that little girl Momma brought home” and soon became her staunchest defender and friend. The Chrisman family moved to Omaha in the late 1930’s in search of work. Spurgeon opened a barber shop on South 24th Street. The family made their home behind the barber shop, and Thelma’s bed was a cot in the barber shop. She graduated in 1945 from Central High School having majored in art and drama.
Shortly after graduation, Thelma was hired as the switchboard operator for the new Omaha Country Club north and west of the city. Each day, she rode a streetcar from South Omaha to “The End of the Line” at 66th and Maple Streets. There, a bus from the OCC would pick up the employees and take them to work. Thelma soon caught the eye of a young caddy named Earl Rice, whose dad was the Assistant Golf Pro and manager of the golf shop. One day, as she went into the supply closet to get a vase for one of the members, Earl followed Thelma and surprised her with a kiss. Chagrinned, Thelma walked out and said, “That is not what I came in here for!” It wasn’t long before Earl and Thelma began dating. They attended Temple Baptist Church, and it was there that Thelma first heard about her need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and trusted Him as her Lord and Savior. The first verse she learned as a new Christian was Matthew 11:28-30, a passage she told us she used all her life.
Earl and Thelma married on Wednesday, April 30, 1947, and their sixty-seven-year marriage was blessed with six children, twenty-one grandchildren, fifty-three great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.
Thelma’s family was the joy of her life. Her children and grandchildren count it a huge blessing knowing that their mom and grandma started each day at her kitchen table with her open Bible and time with the Lord, always in prayer for them. Besides running the household for a large family, Thelma also held several jobs outside their home to bring in additional support. In her late fifties, Thelma was privileged to purchase a local Diet Center franchise which she ran for ten years. It brought her joy to help people on their health journey, and she made many lifelong friends there.
Amazingly, Thelma was able to live independently until May of this year, when she fell on her patio, breaking her ankle. After her hospitalization, Thelma recuperated under the loving care and attention of the staff at Maple Crest Care Center. Their love and support helped Thelma to adjust to the major life change when her health prevented her returning to her own home.
Thelma will be lovingly remembered by her children: Susi (Bruce) Osmanson, Skip (Raquel) Rice, Sally (Bill) Wallin, John (Linda) Rice, and James Rice; her daughter-in-love, Diana Rice; her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, her great-great-grandchildren; her brother-in-love, Ralph Rice; her nieces and nephews; and her dear friends.
Thelma was preceded in death by her parents, Spurgeon and Maudie Chrisman; husband, Earl; brother, Monte Chrisman; sisters-in-law, Becky Chrisman and Maryana Rice; daughter, Sharon Rathbun; several grandbabies and great-grandbabies.
VISITATION: Tuesday, October 17, 2023, 10:00-11:00AM, followed by FUNERAL SERVICE, 11:00AM, all at West Center Chapel. INTERMENT: Hillcrest Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers memorials are suggested to Good, Better, Best Ministries.
To view a live broadcast of the service, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.