A Tale of Two Katies

By Katie Rice '10

I am a twin. My sister came into the world seven minutes before I did, on June 6, 1988. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this summer that I have another twin of sorts, a Hendrix alumna who was born more than seven minutes before me. Katy Rice was born in 1919. She was christened Kathryn Donham, but on her wedding day in 1943 she became Katy Rice.

"You know, I've never met another Katy Rice," she told me in August, when we met in her home. We spent the afternoon comparing our respective experiences at Hendrix College. Katy lived in Galloway Hall and the now-demolished Miller Hall. I have spent my Hendrix years in Couch Hall and the Spanish House.

Katy graduated in 1941 with a degree in Humanities. I will graduate next May – God willing – with a double major in American Studies and International Relations and Global Studies.

While Katy was in school, she worked as a front desk attendant in the residence halls. The wages she earned helped her pay her tuition bill. I work too, as a writer for the Office of Communications and Marketing, but my educational expenses are also supported by generous scholarships. Without donors like Katy, I would not be able to afford to attend Hendrix.

Katy and her late husband, Jim Rice, established the James H. and Kathryn Donham Rice Endowed Scholarship with a gift of stock in 1996.

"It's had a nice boost lately," Katy said. "After my husband passed away, we asked that memorials be sent to Hendrix to honor him."

Thirteen years later, the scholarship has doubled and supports deserving students who meet specific academic criteria. Katy and Jim also designated Hendrix in their wills, so more could be added to the scholarship at their deaths.

Katy's fondest memories of Hendrix are populated with the friends she met during her college years. Although some moved away after graduation, the majority have remained very close. Even now, Katy eats meals in her community's dining hall with a former Hendrix roommate.

"If they're still living, we are still friends," Katy said. "After Hendrix, we remained friends for the rest of our lives."

Katy dedicated her early life to raising her four children, two of whom also attended Hendrix. After her youngest child left for college, Katy found work at the Old Statehouse as registrar of their historical collection. Curatorial work became a passion for her. In her free time, she organized the archives of First United Methodist Church in Little Rock and funded the development of a small museum there.

Katy later helped establish the Arkansas United Methodist archives at the Bailey Library on the Hendrix campus. Until recently, she traveled to Conway twice a week to work in the archives.

"I love being a Methodist," she said. "It started out as a denomination in England that helped the poor. I've studied its history enough to believe in what it does."

Katy's passion for Hendrix inspired her and her late husband to make a plan to assist worthy students like me in their educational pursuits. Katy's plan will continue to help Hendrix for generations after she is gone.