Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Marilyn Miller article about Joan Rice
Joan Rice wrote for newspaper
Ex-ABJ assistant editor, fashion/teens reporter was strong role model
By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer
Joan Rice — a former Beacon Journal reporter and assistant editor who wrote about fashion, teens and was the face of Enjoy magazine for many years — died of cancer on Friday. Her death came 12 days after her husband, former Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy Capt. Larry Momchilov, died. Both were hospitalized at the same time at Akron General Medical Center where they both died. The couple was married for 36 years. “There’s no way to put into words what it’s like for a twin to lose a twin, especially your identical twin,” said her sister, Marie Rice. “When she passed away my first thought was, I don’t know what I’m going to do without my twin.” They were born in Akron, but moved to Rootstown at age 3. They had two other siblings, John Jr. and Nancy Crouch.
All four had property on the family’s 150-acre farm in Rootstown. Joan and Larry built their home in 1981. Marie built a home next door. Sister Nancy also built a home there and John Jr., who also died of cancer in 2012, renovated their parents’ home on the homestead.
Marie, who is two minutes older than Joan, said they were inseparable growing up and always made a point to be together on their birthday. They loved music and saw Elvis Presley perform two or three times and the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen numerous times, once celebrating their birthday at a Springsteen concert.
“We even ended up going into the same field. Joan and I both became reporters. I was always the talkative one and Joan was quieter,” she said. “I guess that’s why I went into broadcast journalism, the spoken word, and Joan was into the written word.” Both graduated from Kent State University.
Marie said only two or three of their friends could actually tell them apart. “People would say hello to me or her and we would have no idea who these people were, but we were always friendly because we figured they knew one of us,” she said.
“Our whole life we rarely heard our names, we just heard “Twinny” or “Ricey” or “Hey, you” because we looked so much alike and if you only knew one of our names, you couldn’t guess the other’s name.” Marie said she was named after her Aunt Marie, her mother’s sister.
“My mother promised she would name her first born after my aunt, but my parents couldn’t find a name to rhyme with Marie, so my mom told my dad to name the second child, and Joan was the closest female version of his name, John,” Marie said. “People seemed disappointed after learning our names were so different, but we do have the same middle name, Ann, so we’d tell them that.”
Those who knew Joan Rice remembered her infectious smile, her great sense of fashion and her personal style. She wore bright colors and silver rings on every finger. They described her as a feminist, a strong career woman and a role model with a devotion to quality, a fast talker and a kind person.
Elaine Guregian, a former Beacon Journal colleague, said her former boss was a “consummate professional” and a joy to work with in the newsroom.
“Joan had the highest ethical and journalistic standards, which she put to work every day in her job as assistant features editor. She was also a deeply compassionate and engaged person who was up on every social, cultural and political trend,” Guregian said. “Joan was one of the most fun colleagues you could imagine, with a fashion sense that could put a much younger person to shame.” Another former colleague, Betsy Lammerding, said she and Joan sat within inches of each other for more than 25 years in the Beacon’s features department. “I admired everything about her. She was a mother hen, big sister, mentor, role model and friend. To know Joan was to love her,” Lammerding posted on a memorial blog. Joan worked at the Beacon from 1966 to 2001, when she took a buyout to care for her mother who had heart problems. Her mom, Nancy, died in 2004. Her father, John, died in 1979 after suffering several strokes.
“We never used the word retire, we always said retire was for old people. We liked to say gratefully bowed out or bailed out or resigned,” said her twin sister, who also resigned about the same time as her sister after spending 40 years in Buffalo, N.Y., in time to take care of her brother and eventually her twin sister. Joan’s funeral will be Saturday at the Kent State Newman Center Parish, 1424 Horning Road, Kent. Calling hours are at 10 a.m. followed by an 11 a.m. Mass.