Obituary for Frederick Lincoln Rice



Former Manchester-by-the-Sea resident Frederick Rice passed away on March 3 in Rome, New York, where he owned and operated the Oak and Ivy Bed and Breakfast.  He was predeceased by his brother, Alan, his parents, George and Alice Rice and a cousin, Anne Willis, of Manchester.  His mother, Alice, ran Floyd’s, a “must visit” candy shop for youngsters in downtown Manchester. 

A Renaissance man for both the 20th and 21st centuries, Fred’s true fascination was with the style and furnishings of the Victorian Era.  Fred was a well-known and much sought after horticultural lecturer, garden designer, floral designer, photographer, potter, theater hair stylist and make-up artist at the North Shore Music Theater, Brooks School, and Shore Country Day School; and personal hairdresser/barber/hair stylist (a man for all the ages).  He had many stage and screen credits to his name.


He was an accomplished watercolor artist, specializing in garden and ocean scenes on the North Shore, English cottages, and cottage gardens and, of course, his beloved cats.  He also collected and sold a remarkable array of elegant canes and walking sticks. Earlier, he taught art at schools in North Reading, MA and sold antiques in Rye, his favorite village on the Southeast coast of England.


A man of splendidly diverse interests and talents, Fred was very active in several garden societies, was president of the North Shore Horticultural Society (NSHS) for many years, and even a member of the Rye Players, an amateur drama and panto group in Rye, from Christmas 1978 to January 1980.  He loved history, historical buildings, and historical re-enactments, where his acting skills came into play.  For several years he was President of the Manchester Miniaturist Society and served on the Board of Manchester Trees.  An excellent cook, he loved entertaining, especially using many of his 14 inherited dinner services.


Fred’s sketch book was always with him, and he generously shared pen-and-ink and water-colored sketches with those he visited.


As auctioneer extraordinaire for NSHS, Fred spearheaded their major annual fundraiser with skill, wit, and an encyclopedic knowledge of plants.  Always the educator, he would identify the ideal growing conditions, height, spread, typical colors, and form of every plant up for sale. If he knew who the plant’s donor was, he would often know whose garden they got it from earlier, as a means of establishing the plant’s pedigree!  Also, always the raconteur, after the auction, he was known to enjoy a wee draught and late evening conversation centered on acquaintances in common, favorite gardens and, always, his time in England.  In daylight hours, he always had time for “a cuppa” and his famous homemade scones.


At the family home on Friend Street in Manchester he created beautiful multi-“roomed” gardens and a lovely Tea House, which were always open to friends and visitors.  These gardens were featured in many publications including Country Homes, Country Gardens, The English Garden and Dream Gardens Across America


On June 7, 2008, Fred opted for new pastures, or at least a new garden to develop, and purchased a lovely Victorian house in Rome, New York, where he opened The Oak and Ivy Bed and Breakfast (with wonderful full English breakfast).  Fred reveled in bargain hunting for Victorian era furnishings, always, always, packing at least one piece into his van on his annual visits back to Cape Ann for the plant auction. 

His engaging personality soon helped develop a wonderful new circle of friends in and around Rome, essentially creating a new family as close to him as those on Cape Ann.  In true Fred style, as friends from Cape Ann visited, both sets came to know and enjoy each other well, and their caring for Fred is evident in these shared memories.   


His new corner lot in Rome gave Fred a blank “canvas” on which to create an entirely new garden.  Fred started with many favorite and special plants from Friend Street, giving himself a sense of continuity in his new community.  Next, he matched his household furnishing passion with acquiring plants to “paint” the new garden.  

Naturally, this one included many “rooms,” which added to the joy of discovery, and one of his favorites included a new pergola. Not exactly a fan of technology, Fred did nevertheless enjoy sharing on FaceBook hundreds of photos of improvements to the house, and especially the new, and always evolving, gardens!

While enjoying his B&B guests, one of Fred’s greatest pleasures was Afternoon Tea, indoors or, in season, tucked into a special garden space.  Many of these were as host for various clubs and local groups.  They became more grandiose with the Christmas season teas having the house fully decorated with 13 different themed trees, drawing locals to celebrate the holiday season. He was a tremendous supporter of the local art community and loved going to openings and events.  All of these different occasions were simply Fred’s way of enjoying time together with friends.

Fred is survived by his cousin Alice Willis, her children, Sue Anne Willis of Manchester, Massachusetts; David Floyd Willis of Fort Collins, Colorado; and Stephen Allen Willis of Asbury, New Jersey.  He also leaves behind an extensive diaspora of friends in Manchester-by-the Sea, Massachusetts; Cape Ann, Massachusetts; Rome, New York and Rye, England.  

Celebrations of Fred’s life and friendships will be scheduled in Manchester and Rome later this Spring with announcements published locally.

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