Professor Charles Rice was, without exception, the finest man I have ever met. Every aspect of his life exuded faith and commitment. Commitment to his family. Commitment to his students. Commitment to the Church. Commitment to the weakest and most defenseless among us. And commitment to God.
Laying eyes on Professor Rice on my first day of law school was a bit intimidating. He had a no nonsense appearance—marine haircut, sharp eyes, and a big thick book. But as soon as Dr. Rice got to the front of the room and opened class with “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, I knew he was something special and I cherished every minute of every class from that point on. And today, every time I step in front of students, I start class the same way.
Not only did Charles Rice drill into my mind all the minute details—and there was a lot of drilling necessary—about Torts, but he also drilled into my mind the importance of the law in the context of Christ’s mission. Professor Rice was always open to discussing class material at any time and any place. So much did I enjoy my first class with him that I ended up earning 21 credits during law school with Dr. Rice (Torts I, Torts II, Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law, and 8 credits of directed readings).
Outside of the academic setting, Professor Rice made a deep impact on my life as well—in great part through his children. I came to know and appreciate several of his children—my peers in the local community—and in knowing them, I realized what a profound impact he had as he raised a large family of devoted Catholics who share his zeal.
It is hard to believe that Professor Rice is no longer among us. I can close my eyes and hear “Oh Tree, I feel sick” or “assault requires a threatening gesture” or “you have an obligation to have a properly formed conscience” or “you will know and enjoy that footnote.” Whenever I think of Dr. Rice, it puts a smile on my face.
There are a few people that I am confident are with St. Peter and Charlie Rice is one of them. If I can be one-tenth the man he was, I will be with St. Peter, as well. So it is with that hope and aspiration I have begun to ask him to intercede on my behalf regularly.
Jamie O’Brien graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1993.