Service Date: 02/15/2018 at 1:00 PM
Location:Tahoma National Cemetery
Cemetery:Tahoma National Cemetery
Service to be held at 1:15pm
On January 9, 2018 at 6:22 PM, Mom packed her suitcase for the last time and followed Dad to his last duty station. Mom loved life as an Army Air Corps/Air Force wife and world traveler, with the farm in Roy, WA being the last stop-over before she followed Dad.
Erma Faye (Bullinger) Rice was born May 16, 1924 in Benton Harbor, MI to Leslie John Bullinger and Irene Dooley. Along with Mom (six minutes later) came her identical twin sister Norma Raye.
Mom's life was influenced by defining moments: the death of her father when she was six years old and the family fell into poverty; her mother's remarriage to a farmer who decided that attending school was a waste of time and only farm work counted; and her twin sister's passing away in January 1970. Her self-reliance, social advocacy, and belief in strong family unity were, in part, a result of these moments.
In 1940 Mom and her twin met a very handsome boy in Benton Harbor named Orval Rice who came from the Mennonite/Amish community and who was the older step-brother of a school friend. Mom first lost the competition to date Dad – until her twin met his younger brother Leo (must have been the blue eyes). Well, lets just say Mom won Dad in the end. Mom and Dad married October 4, 1941 with Norma and Leo witnessing. With the onset of WWII, Mom went to work in an aircraft radio production plant while Dad served in the Army Air Corps first as enlisted then as a pilot and flying instructor. Whenever Mom got the chance, she would travel to wherever Dad was stationed for visits. She always took her twin sister with her. Mom wanted her twin to have the same exciting experiences she was having (plus it was fun to fool people who couldn’t tell them apart). After the war ended, Mom and Dad settled back into Benton Harbor and Dad opened his auto body shop. Mom rejoined her Presbyterian Church, had three kids, taught Sunday School, walked many miles knocking on may doors to raise money for charities and became politically active as a Democrat.
When Dad was recalled to active duty for the Korean War, Mom couldn’t wait to get back to the military life style. She loved being a military wife and was excited about the adventures the family would have. Those adventures continued through several countries in the Orient and in Europe. When the time came for Dad to retire in January 1970, Mom's next adventures started with the purchase of the farm in Roy, WA. There were Scottish Highlander cattle; horse shows; boating on Commencement Bay; fishing for trout from the pond on the back of the property; growing gladiolas; being the home base for grand-kids when their parents were away on military duty; and hosting family gatherings for any reason she could think of. Mom now had time for civic and political activity. She was a member of the Friends of the Library for Pierce County and politically active in the Democratic Party. At this time, conversation at the dinner table became interesting – Mom was an avid Democrat and Dad was an avid Republican - the conversations usually ended in “Oh Erma” and “Oh Orval”.
Mom was an avid genealogist and was very proud of her heritage. On her mother's side Mom was a direct descendant of Moses and Mary (Boyd) Dooley of Bedford, VA, (a co-founder of the Peaks of Otter Presbyterian Church, Bedford, VA in 1774) and Moses Dooley Jr. and second wife Palatyre (Ryan) Dooley who, as a widow with ten children moved to Grant Co., IN from Preble Co. OH, in 1851 to farm and provided help to the Quaker Baldwin family in supporting the Underground Railroad. On her father's side, her grandfather Johann Christian (Christian John) Bullinger from Dembach, Germany, along with his sons established bakeries in Anderson and Marion, IN and Benton Harbor, MI. In 1890 her grandfather published the "Bullinger's Recipes for Bakers, Confectioners and Private Use". This book was adopted by many bakers who wanted to produce authentic German recipes.
Mom was preceded in death by her husband of over 71 years LtCol Orval L. Rice USAF (ret). She was also preceded in death by her siblings and their spouses: brother and sister-in-law Frederick and Mary Opal Bullinger, brother and sister-in-law Victor and Helena Bullinger, identical twin sister and brother-in-law Norma and Gerald E. Moore, and a brother William Christian Bullinger who died before she was born.
Mom is survived by her children and their families: Janet Eversole, Russel Eversole, Christina Eversole/partner Ryan Martin and their daughter Ariana; LtCol Carol Miskill USMC (ret), GMC Nathan and Wendy Miskill USCG, Rachael and Dr. Roger S. Brown of Wales, United Kingdom; LTC Lloyd and Barbara Rice WAARNG (ret), and Emily and Roman Nugen.
The family extends it sincere appreciation to the dedicated staff and caregivers of Stafford Suites Assisted Living in Sumner for making Mom's last weeks as pleasant as possible. Mom's burial service will be held at 1:15 on February 15, 2018, at the Mt. Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent where she will be buried with Dad. In lieu of flowers please donate to your favorite charity.