Jerald "Jerry" Rice

  • Funeral Date: 2/04/17
  • Funeral Time: 11:00 am
  • Date of Birth: 6/15/37
  • Date of Death: 1/29/17
  • Funeral Location: Carleton College Chapel

Jerry Rice, age 79 of Northfield, passed away unexpectedly Sunday, January 29, 2017 at the Northfield Hospital Emergency Room. Funeral Services will be 11:00am Saturday, February 4th at Skinner Memorial Chapel on the Carleton College Campus. Fireman’s Final Review, Military Rites and a luncheon will follow at the VFW Club in Northfield. Visitation will be Friday, February 3 from 4-7:00 pm at the Bierman Funeral Home in Northfield.

Jerald Richard Rice was born June 15, 1937 in Northfield, son of Richard and Selma (Estrem) Rice. He was raised and attended school in Northfield, was on the wrestling team, sparred at boxing and graduated from Northfield High School in 1955. Following school, he began working construction, first with Lyle Severson Construction and later with Jim Dougherty Construction.

Jerry then began his own business called Jerry’s Tile Service and specialized in the installation of ceramic tile and carpet. He also worked as a subcontractor for Carleton College for 20 years, maintaining and grouting the tile in their swimming pools, and repairing ceramic tile and floor tile in the dorms and food service. In his spare time, he owned and operated the J and J Car Wash which was located by the Quarterback Club. After retirement, he worked part-time for Target and Cannon Valley Printing until his health deteriorated.

He was a longtime volunteer with the Northfield Fire Department and was instrumental in the development of the Northfield Rescue Squad, of which he served as Captain. In the mid-60’s Jerry was one of the first PRIM (Professional Rescue Instructors of Minnesota) and in the late 60’s he was one of the first in the state to be a part of Project Haste of HCMC, which involved the first use of helicopters to get accident victims transported off the freeways. He retired as 1st Assistant Chief of the Northfield Fire Department in 1987 after 25 years of service. He also was a member of the Minnesota National Guard.

Jerry was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying deer hunting and fishing, often centered around the cabin he built on Pomme de Terre Lake near Morris, MN. He also enjoyed fishing the Cannon River his entire life and took numerous trips to Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake. He enjoyed going to the VFW to visit with friends, watching the Vikings and the Northfield Raiders football games. In the 70’s he traveled to New Orleans with his buddies to watch the Vikings lose a Super Bowl. As his health slowed him down in recent years he began feeding the birds and rabbits in his front yard.

Recently he especially loved spending time with his grandkids. He found a special joy in showing them how to ride their bikes and scooters, and he taught them how to play horseshoes. In the summer, he would ride his moped down to the pool and watch them swim. He got to see Rigg go off the diving board and Clay jump off the side and swim. He also helped them each catch their first fish on Cedar Lake this past August. He especially enjoyed their last visit when they were able to read to him. He always rewarded them with Snickers candy.

Jerry married Jacqueline Zelenka in 1955 and they had two sons and a daughter. They later divorced.

Jerry Rice is survived by his companion of 25 years, Mary Nelson of Northfield; daughter Debbie (Marc) Schlismann of Albertville; son Kevin of Northfield; sisters Cookie (Roger) Williams of Dundas, Lila (Bob) Winter of Northfield, Denise O’Brien of Florida, Shelly Frank of Wisconsin; brother Ray Rice of Northfield; and special grandkids Rigg and Clay Nelson. He was preceded in death by his parents; an infant son; sister and brother-in-law LaVonne and George McCorkell; brother Rick Rice; and his former wife Jackie Rice.


  1. Sylvia Chase

    Jerry created an indelible impression with his open grins, wise and bemused expressions and clear- eyed assessments. He had a keen wit and sense of humor. At the same time Jerry was a gentle person, considerate and humane. Insight: In 12th grade English, he reluctantly grew to appreciate Shakespeare, Macbeth in particular. His presence at Class of 1955 reunions made the events complete. He must have been so pleased to be there when Rigg and Clay catch their first fish. So “Jerry”!

  2. Joe Kinsella

    I will always remember Jerry as a kind and gentle man with a great sense of humor, and he always had a smile and a handshake for anyone he met. I enjoyed visiting with him at the VFW on weekends about the old days in Northfield, and he remembered people and events in great detail. Farewell, Jerry!

  3. Jerry and I always greeted each other with “I got the most of them” referring way back to our bowling days in the fifties. Jerry was a kind and caring man who truly got the most out his life in a very positive way. God speed ” cornmeal” my man!