School 12

William J. Rice, PhD

August 6, 1927 ~ February 10, 2020 (age 92)


William J. Rice, PhD, retired chemical engineering educator, passed away peacefully on February 10, 2020. 

William was born in Whallonsburgh, NY, and raised in Clinton, MA where he graduated from St. John’s Grammar School and Clinton High School, which awarded him the Rensselaer Medal at graduation.  He graduated with distinction from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1947 with a degree in chemical engineering and the following year earned a master’s degree also in chemical engineering at WPI.

From 1948 to 1953 he was an instructor in chemical engineering at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC where he also taught chemistry.  In the summer of 1952, he was a chemist (physical) at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington.  For the next two summers he was employed at the Bound Brook, NJ plant of the American Cyanamid Co.

In 1953 he entered Princeton University where he earned his PhD. in chemical engineering in 1964.  From 1957 until 1991 he was a professor of chemical engineering at Villanova University in Villanova, PA.  Since 1991 he has been retired with the rank of Professor Emeritus from Villanova.

While at Villanova, he served as general arrangements chairman for a national American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting in Philadelphia.  He was also a member of the Villanova University Senate, its Rank and Tenure Committee, and its Faculty Affairs Committee.

Other professional experience includes a summer with Arco Chemical Co., a year with the Institute of Energy Conversion of the University of Delaware, and consulting for the Institute for another year.

After retiring he joined the choir of his church, St. Pius X, in Broomall, PA.  He became a volunteer with the Philadelphia Studio of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic where he served as recording monitor, reader, checker, and monitor trainer.  He served as a packer and scheduler for the Marple-Newtown Chapter of Meals on Wheels.  He was a participant in Elderhostel Service programs in Midway Atoll (monitoring Hawaiian monk seals) and in Siedlce, Poland (teaching conversational English to Polish children at a summer camp.)

He was a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Broomall; the parish Holy Name Society which he served for many years as secretary, treasurer and president; the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Tau Beta Pi; Sigma Xi; the Alumni Leadership Council of Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and the Society of Mayflower Descendants.  For five years he was chairman of the WPI Class of 1947 Board of Directors and simultaneously chairman of the 50th Reunion Committee.

A major retirement project was genealogy of the Rice family.  He and his wife, Virginia, regularly attended opera performances in Philadelphia and New York.

William is survived by his wife, Virginia (nee Markealli) Rice; his six stepchildren, his niece, Elaine M. Curt (George A.) and nephew, Robert A. Scanlon (Patricia K.).  He is also survived by many grand-nieces, grand-nephews and cousins.

Relatives and friends are invited to his Viewing, Saturday, February 15, 2020, 9:00 to 10:00 AM at St. Piux X Church, 220 Lawrence Road, Broomall, PA  19008, followed by his Funeral Mass at 10:00 AM.   

On Monday, February 17, 2020, at 10:00 AM, family and friends are invited to William's Funeral Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church, 80 Union Street, Clinton, MA.  Interment to follow at St. John’s Cemetery, Lancaster, MA.   

In lieu of flowers, contributions to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, c/o University Advancement, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, PA  01609-2280,,  would be appreciated. 

Arrangements by:  The Donohue Funeral Home, Newtown Square, PA, 610-353-6300.   




To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William J. Rice, PhD, please visit our floral store.


February 15, 2020

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
St. Piux X Church (Lawrence Road, Broomall)

Funeral Mass
February 15, 2020

10:00 AM
St. Piux X Church (Lawrence Road, Broomall)

Funeral Mass
February 17, 2020

10:00 AM
St. John the Evangelist Church
80 Union Street
Clinton, Massachusetts 10510

February 17, 2020

St. John's Cemetery
Parker Road
Lancasater, Massachusetts 01523


Worcester Polytechnic Institute, c/o University Advancement
100 Institute Road, Worcester MA 01609-2280

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