Rice Receives First Champion of History Award

September 26, 2014 at 9:30 PM


From left:  Brenda Rice, Dr. Jeffrey Rice, and Dee Matthews.

     Dr. Jeffrey Rice was presented with the DuBois Area Historical Society’s first Champion of History Award during the Society’s 32nd Annual Dinner held September 18 at Christ Lutheran Church, DuBois.

     Society President Ruth Gregori made the presentation to Rice for extraordinary efforts in historic preservation. The Society established this award to recognize individuals, groups, or organizations who have contributed to the goals of the purpose of the DuBois Area Historical Society as described in the Society’s mission statement: “To promote the study, preservation, and appreciation of history. The area normally served is that area within the boundaries of the DuBois Area School District.”

     Rice was selected for his efforts in preserving and restoring buildings in DuBois. His initial project was the development of thedr._Jeffrey_rice.jpg Rice Complex on Beaver Drive. Turning his attention to downtown DuBois he focused on restoration, renewal and redevelopment leading to the old Troutman’s Department store now housing businesses like Luigi’s Ristorante and a cultural gem in the Winkler Art Gallery; the demolishing of the Pershing Hotel to provide additional parking for downtown; Brady Street Florist and Logan’s Quick Lunch are other examples of businesses operating from renovated buildings. More recently, he purchased the closed Trinity Lutheran Church, renovated it to an earlier appearance to reopen it as Trinity Chapel.

     Outside of downtown, Rice purchased the old city dump along Route 219 and has converted it into The Roadside Café and Creamery where two refurbished railroad dining cars have been located.

     Upon accepting the award, Rice thanked the Society and outlined some of his current projects. “Thank you for this award, it gives me inspiration to keep on trying,” said Rice.

     The Society’s annual dinner drew a record attendance of 112 people, many of them to hear the presentation of guest speaker/former DuBois resident Delores “Dee” Matthews.

     Matthews titled her presentation, “Rooted and Grounded – Bridges Crossed:  Unfiltered, Straight, No Chasers”. Opening with a brief history of her family, one of the first black families in DuBois, she noted that she was again the “only brown face in the room.”

     The love Matthews has for DuBois filled her presentation. “Tonight is only for myself,” she noted. “I have received much. DuBois nurtured me and made serious deposits in my life. For love and security I return to DuBois.”


Dee Matthews (front left) with some of her classmates from the DuBois High School Class of 1956.

    While Matthews and her brothers, Bobby Matthews and the late Daniel Matthews, were the only people of color in their schoolrooms she related that, “I grew up white, a loving testimony for DuBois, I only remembered color when I looked into a mirror. I never had a discriminatory experience here. I only experienced racial disparities as an adult and I could recall my early life experiences to draw from for coping. I had a rich reservoir given to me by my DuBois family. I was rooted, grounded, and anchored by my village. I had to think unapologetically in black and white. This was Shangri-La.”

      Concluding, Matthews added, “I am not embarrassed by this journey, learning to live inside out. This town empowered us, sustained us and passed the test of time. I strive to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

      In high school, Matthews was active in the music programs and served on student council. She also worked at WCED radio while a high school student. In 1985, she was selected as the DuBois High School Distinguished Music Alumna Award Honoree and was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame. From 1979 until her retirement in 2001, Matthews was a member of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University, New York City. She was called out of retirement on Sept. 11, 2001, to serve in a part-time position for the Care for the Caregivers Interfaith Project following the 9/11 attacks.

     Historical Society elections were also held during the annual dinner. Nominating committee chair Carolyn Rhoades presented the nominees for two year terms:  Tom Schott, 2nd Vice President; Gene Aravich, Secretary; Jerry Watson, Treasurer; Carol G. Johnson, Director of Genealogy; Kathleen Clement, Director of Museum and Curator; Ken Wiser, Falls Creek Representative; Jean Hayes, Bloom/Brady Township Representative; Linda Riccadonna, Huston Township Representative; and Mary Reilly, Treasure Lake Representative. All were unanimously elected.

      President Ruth Gregori provided the welcome and the closing comments. Rev. Amy Godshall-Miller gave the invocation and Rev. John Miller the benediction. They are the pastors of Christ Lutheran Church. Tom Schott introduced Dee Matthews. Luigi’s Ristorante catered the dinner. Cupcakes were from Mum’s Bakery.


Above and below, some of the crowd at the annual dinner.



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