MORLA ANDREA COLE RICE – May 19, 1937 – June 19, 2021
She was born in a rural hospital in Forsyth, MT, once “the doctor finished feeding his horses” as the story goes. Her mother always said that marked her with the Love of Horses. She grew up on homestead ground near the Yellowstone River in Treasure County. Most of her days were filled with riding horses and spending time hunting or chasing things in the fields and woods near the river. She always had stories of those good times in her life that she had shared with her cousin. She was a part of the Forsyth Horse Show which she participated as a Queen contestant and performed an exhibition of a prized American Saddlebred horse of her grandfathers. Once she graduated from Hysham High School in 1955, she attended Montana State in Bozeman and Eastern College in Billings to receive her teaching degree 1961. Morla belonged to Delta Gamma sorority while in Bozeman. She enjoyed teaching and was known for making a difference in the lives of her students. Many of whom contacted her 30+ years later to let her know how much influence she had had upon them.
In 1962, she and Eldon Rice were married and continued to live in Forsyth. Four years later they had Morla Elizabeth or “Em” to many. In 1970 the couple bought a dilapidated Old log house on Armell’s Creek. Many hours were spent remodeling the place, but it became home with treasured memories. During the next several decades, her focus was raising little Em and tending to horses, sheep, and rabbits (which at one time numbered over 100). Her employment history was diverse. She drove an 84 passenger school bus, a bookkeeper, a Field person for Assessor’s office as well as other side jobs. She was active in the Federated Church, 4-H programs, Order of Eastern Star and Rainbow Girls. Doing leather work was a past time for her and she made some beautiful items over the years. It seems she was always building or making something.
Things changed for her in 1985 with the divorce from Eldon. She then moved to Dickinson State University where she became “Dorm Mom” to a whole new set of kids. About 3 years later, she moved to Colorado to be closed to her daughter and son-in-law. Her “2nd” daughter, Debbie Sitton Luithly was also close by for her to see. She worked for a Miniature Horse and barnyard farm doing about anything and everything. It was hard work, but she enjoyed the animals. Her favorite horse was a gray Egyptian stallion by the name of Lancers El Shadi. He terrified most people, but they had an understanding of some sort. During this time, she would also farm sit for several in the Miniature horse world. Her favorite place was Taos, NM.
The next decade brought more change as her family property was divided and sold. This was a great ache for her as she loved the land that had been handed down from past generations. She persevered and moved again to Idaho. Her grandson, Mikray, had been ill and she became his fulltime sitter. She also took her granddaughter, Mallori, to any extracurricular or school event. She worked for a veterinary clinic and helped with the Red Cross blood drives in her “spare time”.
“Big Em” was always centered on her family and friends. Her niece and nephew were bright spots for her and she looked forward to any visiting with them she could. These usually ended with much laughter and tears rolling as stories were told. She was able to take an Alaskan cruise which was a memory she held dear. Her most precious experience in life was to watch and share in the growth of Morla, Mike, Mallori, and Mikray. She always stated “can’t get much better than that!”
In lieu of flowers, any memorials can be made to Make-A-Wish foundation for terminally ill children or Montana State Foundation. Plans for a graveside service will be held late May 2022 at the Forsyth Cemetery.