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|Jonathan (Jon) Charles Rice, KQED Co-founder (1916-2001)|
San Francisco, California, July 23, 2001 -- Jonathan Rice, a national leader in public broadcasting, died Sunday morning, July 22 at his home in San Francisco after a long illness. He was 86 years old.
Born February 19, 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Charles M. and May R. (Goldman) Rice, he graduated with a degree in journalism from Stanford University in 1938. He was a photographer and reporter for Acme Newspix/NEA in San Francisco from 1939-1941. On December 12, 1941, five days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he went to Honolulu, where he began two years as a correspondent covering operations in the Pacific. He served as a Marine correspondent in 1943 and continued as an intelligence officer in the Pacific, retiring as a Lieutenant and later commissioned as a USMC Major.
He married Kathleen (Kit) Feibleman on August 6, 1946, and they had three children: Jefferson Charles Rice, of Sebastopol, Kathy (Kit) May Rice, who died in a kayak accident in 1992, and May Nanette Rice, of Ross. Rice was preceded in death by his wife, who passed away in 1964.
Rice was picture book editor for Look Magazine in New York from 1947–48, where he also edited two books, Look at America: the South, and Official Picture Story of the FBI. He served as news and special events editor for KTLA-TV in Los Angeles before his move to San Francisco in 1953.
He co-founded KQED with Jim Day in 1954. For the first six months, Rice's station wagon served as KQED's only office. Resourceful, imaginative and short on finances, the pair nonetheless found ways to create a quality program service that was the envy of other educational stations throughout the country.
Under Rice's leadership as its first program manager, KQED quickly became the most honored noncommercial station in the nation, receiving the prestigious Peabody, Sylvania and Ohio State awards for outstanding local public television in its first years of service. The programming broke new ground for television in terms of scope and variety, with subjects ranging from poetry, cooking, music, art and architecture to hard-hitting current affairs, news and politics
Rice was instrumental in developing creative on air fundraising for KQED, including the annual auction, which was held for years at various venues throughout Northern California and which became a national model for public broadcasting. He also developed a nightly news program during the newspaper strike of 1968, Newpaper of the Air which later became Newsroom.
Rice was most proud of several distinguished awards in his extensive career. In 1972, he became the second recipient of prestigious Ralph Lowell Medal from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for outstanding contributions to public broadcasting, and, in 1973, he received the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Governor's Award. In 1986, the KQED Board of Directors dedicated and named the station's Studio B "the Jonathan Rice Studio" in recognition of his achievement, loyalty and devotion to KQED.
He continued to be actively involved with KQED in recent years as a valued advisor and off-board member, participating tirelessly on numerous committees, and attending board meetings and special events.
This last week, KQED's president & CEO Mary Bitterman presented Rice with a new distinction, the Jonathan C. Rice Legacy Society at KQED, named in his honor as one of its founding members and greatest champions. The Society recognizes those who have made a planned gift to KQED. "He was a giant of a man -- a person of incredible warmth and sensitivity, a taskmaster for excellence in programming and responsiveness to community concerns, and the veritable 'glue' which held KQED together through thick and thin. We shall not soon see his like again," said Bitterman.
Services are pending. Donations in his memory may be made to the KQED Campaign for the Future, KQED Public Broadcasting, 2601 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.