It is with great sadness that we pass along this information; long time GLOA member Joe Rice passed away on Wednesday May 24, 2023 after a two year battle with esophageal cancer. A long time softball and football official, Joe joined the GLOA in 2009 and was an active member until his diagnosis. Funeral arrangements can be found at the end of the obituary.
Joseph Allan “Joe” Rice
August 27, 1946 – May 24, 2023
“Nobody gets out of life alive.” That was one of Joe’s favorite sayings. And that happened for him, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, following a battle with esophageal cancer discovered at a late stage in October 2021. Joe was born at Crawford Long Hospital. He was a lifelong resident of the Atlanta area except for his time in military service.
Joe was the only child of the late Allan G. Rice, Jr. and Alice Mae Wooddall Rice. He grew up in College Park and East Point and graduated from Georgia Military Academy in 1964. His first job out of high school was cutting linoleum for Sears, Roebuck & Co. He enlisted in the Air Force in April 1966 and became “a SAC-trained killer” (ironically as a medic). He ended his active duty at Davis-Monthan AFB in December 1969 having reached the rank of S/Sgt.
Going to college mostly at night before, during and after his military service, he graduated with honors from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in May 1971. He started work at Southern Railway on June 1, 1971 as a computer programmer. He left the railroad in October 1987 to begin a partnership business in software development. He later returned to the salaried workforce where he worked in several positions from computer test engineer to department director for multiple companies. But he felt his most important professional work came with Southern and its successor, Norfolk Southern. There he and his small group of programmers helped develop some of the most innovative uses of computers in the company’s business and technical applications of the times.
He found his most rewarding avocational activity in youth and high school sports as a coach and administrator including a multi-year stint as president of the Tucker Football League. But surpassing each of these was his love of on-field officiating beginning in softball, progressing to football, and finally into the sport of lacrosse. He eventually became a state clinician for GHSA at their annual football officials’ camps, and he also became the editor of their annual Officials Manual.
Joe was also an active volunteer serving as the local coordinator for AARP Tax-Aide for over a decade at the Clarkston, GA public library site during tax season. For a time, he was a board member of the Information Systems Consultants Association, an Associate Member of the American Short Line Railroad Association and served in leadership or membership positions in several officials-oriented groups including MCFOA, GLOA, GLL, NMUA, UOA and NASO. At other times he was a Cubmaster, a volunteer phone answerer for WABE during pledge drives as well as a volunteer for the 1996 Olympic Games, a representative to the old Data General Users Group, an advisor to the Federal Railroad Administration on rail yard technology, a member of the Southern Railway Historical Association, and a blood donor. He started running in the Peachtree Road Race in 1980 and ran it religiously for 40 years. Some people may also remember his voice from his time doing voice talent for local doctors’ answering services and as a football stadium announcer.
Joe nurtured a nearly life-long interest in matters political. As a young man he was the president of the Young Republicans of the Tri-Cities. But he soured on both the major parties and their self-serving ways. Describing himself as a “militant centrist” he spent his time on politics in his later years trying to revive a sense of common community purpose across the wonderfully diverse population of this nation.
Joe is survived by his wife of 34 years, Mary Kay; his son, Daniel Rice (wife Rhonda) and their children, Evan and Bella; his step-sons, Charlie Alessi, and Michael Alessi (wife Megan) and their son, Jack.
In lieu of flowers Joe suggested that anyone interested should donate to either Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute’s “Winship Patient Assistance Fund” (for folks who need additional financial support for their treatment) or to a charity of their own choice.
Joe’s body will be cremated following completion of his funeral service.
General visitation will be on Tuesday, May 30 from 5:00 to 9:00 PM at Tom M. Wages Funeral Home on Highway 78 in Snellville. An open service of remembrance is to be held on Wednesday, May 31 at 10:00 AM in the chapel of Tom M. Wages Funeral Services, 3705 Highway 78, Snellville, GA 30039 with a meal to follow shortly thereafter at Frontera Mexican Restaurant located at 5074 Highway 78, Stone Mountain, GA 30087.