Lesley Rice, 61, passed away Feb. 11, 2019. He was born Sept. 27, 1957.
Our community lost the best storyteller, coach, friend, dad, grandpa, and husband who lived every second on his own terms...AHHSUM! Les lived a life full of joy and happiness. He lost his battle with cancer after kicking its butt for over six years.
Les was born in Missoula, Mont., in 1957, but St. Ignatius was always his home. He grew up on the Allard homestead north of town, where his grandparents Georgian and Sidney, and his parents, Tena and Luke, taught him about hard work and farm life. They were allowed to watch one show per week, and the rest of the time, they had to be creative; thus, Les became a great storyteller! Les, his brothers, and his many cousins enjoyed the outdoors while spending many summers at their grandparents’ farm.
In high school, Les went to the prom with Lou, well, with Lou and her actual date, just the three of them. In 1982, after many years of friendship, they went on their first date to a 24-hour dance marathon, which they won! Not too long later, Les asked Lou to marry him. Lou had three kids already, and Les didn’t hesitate to raise Stacey, Rob and Ryan as his own. In 1986, after chanting “Boston Celtics” and “Miami Dolphins” to Lou’s pregnant belly, Amanda was born, and their family was complete.
At home, Les was a supportive dad who was really proud of his kids. He encouraged them to work hard at home in the yard or garden even when they didn’t want to. He helped his kids with their homework, and he and Lou chaperoned their dances and danced more than the students did. He played the coolest video games with them and watched cheesy movies with them.
Les was involved in everything the kids were into. He coached Rob and Ryan in Little League baseball, Stacey in softball, Amanda in soccer and softball, and all four in basketball. But, then again, what Mission kid hadn’t been coached by Coach Rice in some sport? Besides football, tennis, and baseball, he worked with the basketball program in Mission at every level. Les’s basketball practices were famous for the stations and sidelines he would make the players run because he did the exercises with them and almost always won! Heaven forbid you wore black socks or orange anything to practice.
Coach Rice made every basketball bus ride fun with his stories. All the players would scoot as closely as they could to the front of the bus to see if Les would include them as a unicorn, a mermaid, a skunk, an ogre, or a blonde donkey, with the role of the beautiful queen going to Lou, who rode next to him for hundreds of hours to and from basketball games.
Les worked several jobs, but his last one was at Mountain West Coop in Ronan. He loved the people he worked with, and he even sent his “bosses” at Cenex flowers to arrive the day he died.
Les had some of the funniest quirks about him. Who could forget his love of tapioca pudding AND the unique way he ate it? He cried at sports movies and sappy movies about dogs. He loved to share a Reese’s peanut butter cup with his granddaughter, Brynn. He would dig for hours in his flower beds, earning the name “Diggingest Dad” from Lou. Les’s level of passion and knowledge of basketball was found in only a few people.
Les was convinced people never stepped foot on the Moon and would argue with anyone who would try to give him evidence that supported that we did actually make it there. “Why haven’t we ever been back then?”
Many people loved Les. He leaves behind his wife of 36 years, Lou; his mom, Martena Savage of St. Ignatius; daughters, Stacey (David) Doll and Amanda (Sean) Rice of St. Ignatius; sons, Rob (Erin) Allard of St. Ignatius and Ryan (Natalie) Allard of Isle of Palms, S.C.; grandkids, Brynn, Sawyer, Malin, Adlai, Nate, Beth and Alex; brothers, Kent, Scott, Clint and Joe; and sister, Rhonda; and father, Shine Rice and their families. He leaves behind his fellow coaches, his players and the referees who he sparred with. He is preceded in death by his dad, Luke Savage; grandparents, Georgian and Sidney Allard; and his in-laws, Dan and Betty McCollum.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost
Services were held on Monday, Feb. 18, at the St. Ignatius High School gym.