Bob Rice describes himself as a very ordinary man. But this ordinary man has been part of the Ambassador scene nearly as long as there has been an Ambassador College. His contact with the Work of God goes back even further.
Mr. Rice first heard Herbert Armstrong in 1945 when he was a young man working on the family farm in Oklahoma. A neighbor asked him to come over to his house to hear The World Tomorrow radio broadcast. (At the time he had no radio of his own.)
'This is it!' Mr. Rice was not particularly interested in religion, but something about Mr. Armstrong's explanation of the prophecies of Daniel clicked. "If I ever got religious," he promised himself, "there is no doubt about it. This is it!"
Not long after, Mr. Rice did get religious. He was badly injured in an accident while breaking in a horse, and the doctors gave him only a few months to live. At a funeral for a neighbor who had been killed in a car accident, Mr. Rice was shaken up by the preacher's sermon. He remembered Mr. Armstrong and tried to get in contact. He wrote for the booklet on baptism, and in 1948 he was baptized.
A move to California Shortly afterward, Mr. Rice went to California. His health problems were becoming severe, and he wanted to be anointed by Mr. Armstrong. But the college had closed for the summer, and it was some weeks before he was able to see Mr. Armstrong.
By this time he had begun to put down roots in Southern California. He obtained a job as an antique restorer with Hulett Merritt, the millionaire who owned much of the present campus, including the building that is now Ambassador Hall. At this time, of course, the college owned only two buildings, the Library and what is now the Library Administration Building.
Mr. Rice worked in the building that is now the TV studio. Mr. Merritt's hobby was antique dealing, and he had several houses filled with antiques. Mansions such as Manor Del Mar were just storage houses, Mr. Rice remembers.
Employment at Ambassador In his spare time, he would do odd jobs around Ambassador College and got to know many of the early students well. He remembers those first church services when Mr. Armstrong would preach on the ground floor of the Library Building.
On Sept. 1, 1961, Mr. Rice came to work for Ambassador College fulltime, first of all as an upholsterer and later as a custodian. He has been continuously employed by the college ever since.
Mr. Rice enjoys his work as a custodian. "Some people might think that a custodian's job is boring," he says. "Well, it does have its routine moments, but it can also be very dramatic. Take for example the recent sit-in and the other activities during the recent crisis in the Work. That gave us plenty of extra work."
Even though Mr. Rice's hours are irregular and often long, he still finds time to help many of his friends in the Pasadena area. He is married and has five children, three daughters and two sons. His wife Betty was one of the first graduates of Imperial High School. His younger brother Richard is director of the Mail Processing Center.
Mr. Rice loves his work and would be happy to work for Ambassador for another 30 years.
"I have never thought of myself as being special," he says, "but I have had the wonderful opportunity to work in this beautiful place for most of my life. I have tried to make the most of it.
"You know what has become one of my favorite scriptures?" he adds, with a twinkle in his eye. "That one in Proverbs about the spider who takes hold with his hands and is in kings palaces" (Prov. 30:28). "That's me — the ordinary guy from Oklahoma who works at God's headquarters."