Wichita, Kan — The Hearing Review has just learned of the passing of Woodrow R. “Ray” Rice, president of Mid-States Laboratories. Rice was 96 and passed away February 2, 2011.

Rice was born May 15, 1914, to Benjamin Franklin and Alice (Leierer) Rice in Hunter, Okla. In his early years, he excelled at basketball and was offered a position with the pre-NBA NY Knickerbockers, and later, in Wichita, he played on the Cessna semi-pro team. In 1941, after enlisting in the Army and being accepted into Officers Candidate School, Rice served in the Army Medical Corps during WWII. During his service, he attained the rank of Captain. On September 5, 1942, while stationed at Camp Barkley, Tex, he married Karolyn Kent who always said she married him for better or for worse, but not for lunch.

After discharge, his father-in-law, Lynn Kent, persuaded him to enter the hearing aid business. He took that advice, and for over 60 years, Rice operated a highly successful hearing aid dispensing organization in Wichita and surrounding cities in Kansas. Early in his career in hearing care, he realized a need for an earmold laboratory and founded Mid-States Laboratories, an early supplier of earmolds for the astronauts.

The company continues to be operated by the family. Rice remained active in both the dispensing and earmold operations until 2006. “His heart was first, foremost, and always with his family, thus the dedication to his businesses,” says Mid-States’ press release.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 69 years, Karolyn; his children, Sherry DuPerier, Jacqueline Ryan, and WR "Woody" Rice, Jr; and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

SOURCE: Mid-States Laboratories