Updated

June 22, 1926-Feb. 5, 2018

Cathy Rice died on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, with her large loving family gathered around her.

Catherine Ruth Ahlquist was born in Harlowton, Montana on June 22, 1926, the third child of Lillian (Tenney) and Edwin Ahlquist. Her father had died one month before her birth. In 1930, her mother remarried and she took the last name of her stepfather, Henry VanderPas. The family moved to Ferdig in the northern Montana oil fields. There a younger brother was born, and there her mother died in 1936.

Catherine graduated from Oilmont High School and attended Montana State College in Bozeman, where she studied home economics for three years before marrying Oscar P. (Pat) Rice on June 22, 1946. They would raise 16 children and celebrate 50 years of marriage before Pat's death in 1997.

Cathy was a marvelous homemaker who had a gift for making childhood joyful. Birthdays were always special, Christmases were magical, and she made parties of holidays significant or insignificant. She simply loved to celebrate. She was a wonderful cook and gifted seamstress, and her gentle patience made motherhood seem effortless to her children.

Pat and Cathy owned and operated the S & L Ice Cream Store from 1975 to 1986, giving their children an opportunity to earn money for college. Cathy's other dream was fulfilled in 1979 when the family undertook a cabin-building project on their mining claim property north of Butte. "The Cabin" continues to be a focal point in family gatherings. Among Cathy's dearest friends were members of her faith family: Study Club, her prayer group, and her Immaculate Conception Catholic community.

She was preceded in death by her husband; her daughter, Marilyn; son-in-law, Darrell Keck; brothers, Ed and Hank VanderPas; stepsisters, Rosemary Fields and Thelma Roog; and grandchildren, Greg, Sara, and Heber.

She is survived by her children: Jim (Linda) Rice of Arlington, TX; Susie (Brad) Frazier of Tucson, AZ; Jeanne Keck of Shelby, MT; Irene (Don) Scheidecker of Butte; Dan (Melody) Rice of Butte; Debbie (Dave) Mueller of Butte; Rick (Peggy) Rice of Kevin, MT; Steve Rice of Butte; Dave (Patty) Rice of Hollister, CA; Bob Rice of Thompson Falls, MT; Ray (Gladys) Rice of Pullman, WA; Tony (Dana) Rice of Butte; Deanna (Dave) Schafer of Missoula, MT; Michelle Hoffman of Phoenix, AZ; and Beth (Paul) Mast of Missoula; 26 grandchildren; and 7 great-grandchildren. Other survivors include her sister, Allegra Ahlquist of Arizona, and sisters-in-law, Olga Rice of Missouri and Martie Claar of Emigrant, MT.

Visitation for Cathy will begin Friday afternoon at 5 o’clock in Wayrynen-Richards Funeral Home where Parish Vigil Services will be conducted at 6 o’clock. Funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday morning at 10:30 in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and interment with Rite of Committal will be in Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to a charity of your choice. Express condolences at www.wayrynen-richards.com.

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