In Memory

Nick Rice

Nick Rice

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09/17/18 08:56 PM #3    

Susan Sharp (Kjellsen)

I knew Nick and know something about his death.  A bunch of us lived at 1234 Oread in Lawrence across the street from the Gaslight Bar and just down from the Student Union.  After all of the craziness during the spring of 1970 when the Student Union burned, there were riots on campus and in the town, and the National Guard was called out to patrol the streets around the university, things calmed down somewhat during that summer.  I went home for the summer so I was not witness to what happened, but good friends were there and told me about it.  One day, someone set fire to a car down at the Rock Chalk bar at the end of Oread, and the police showed up (not the National Guard).  Everyone on the street - and it was quite a crowd from what I've heard - fled up to the Gaslight. During the melee, Nick was shot in the head and killed.  He lay in the street just outside the Gaslight for a long time because the police wouldn't let anyone out of the bar to get near him.  Nick's funeral was held later that week in Kansas City at the Country Club Presbyterian Church where we all sat in stunned silence. 

Nick's death had a profound affect on all of us.  He was just a big goofy kid who was simply and tragically caught in the wrong plance at the wrong time. I have always thought he was killed by the police, but maybe that is a wrong impression.  He would never have set fire to a car, shot at the police, or whatever else they thought he might have done. 

From that point on, I think most of us in that cirlce of friends lost any fire we had for social or political reform - at least overt reform.  

09/18/18 11:07 AM #4    

Bill Weiler

Having known Nick since grade school, he was a victim of a perfect storm of misinformation and the wrong person being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Four days before Nick's death, Rick Dowdell was shot by Lawrence police while fleeing a shooting and firing at officers with a .357mag. It was the third time in a few days Lawrence police had been shot at or there had been sniper fire on civilians, so the police were understandably nervous. None of the news reports immediately after Dowdell’s shooting mentioned that he had been shooting at police when he was shot, so the community blamed the police for shooting an “unarmed” teen and they were attacking the police for it. The car that was set on fire was also overturned, which created a large bang. It is possible to the police that it sounded like they were being shot at again and they may have overreacted to the possible threat by firing too soon.


Student’s carried Nick from where he was shot to the front of the Gaslight, which made reconstructing the scene very difficult. It is my understanding the bullet that struck Nick was never found so it could never be proved what gun had fired the shot. The fact that the bullet was not found was more consistent with a higher velocity rifle rather than a handgun bullet, but that was speculation and could never be proven. The fact that most police at the time were carrying relatively low powered, low velocity 38 special revolvers contributed to the idea it might have been a rifle shot from a sniper.


My mother bowled with Nick’s mom while were in grade school and I spent some time playing with Nick and he never had what could be called quick reactions. There were times a ball could be flying Nick’s way and you could holler at him and by the time he responded it was too late. I speculated that when officers gave the order to disperse many did immediately and Nick may have not making it appear he was disobeying an order. There is plenty of responsibility all around for the sad outcome and we’ll never know for sure what happened while we’re still on this planet

09/18/18 01:38 PM #5    

Mitchell Friedman

Well, I just wanted to say that in my opinion and experience with Nick, he was a good person and his death was tragedy of circumstance.  I didn't mean to imply any more than that so if I offended anyone, that was truly unintentional.  I always liked Nick and it saddens me to think that he died like that.

05/19/19 03:46 AM #6    

Dave Scott

I knew Nick Rice from Nallwood Elementary school.  I remember him doing more sit ups in less time than anyone else in Gym class.  He was a good friend and at the time I felt the loss of so many like Nick that were caught up in the rush of the student revolt.  It is sad and he is still missed today.

06/25/19 05:09 PM #7    

Dave Suptic

This newspaper story from Lawrence, KS explains the circumstances of Nick's untimely death.  Nick and I were friends throughout high school and college. Nick's passing was tragic.

06/25/19 05:49 PM #8    

Michael Cacioppo

Nice research work, Super Suptic! So, it appears as I said, no National Guardsman killed Nick. It also appears that the Lawrence Police did not kill Nick, as Nick's father indicated in the story. What a sad day and time. I hope the alleged sniped that murdered Nick burns in hell! From Michael Cacioppo on June 25, 2019.

06/26/19 07:48 PM #9    

Neil Goss

Nick and I attended Country Club Christian Church, grade school through college. Whoever made the smiley-face T-shirt must have met Nick. He had a certain whit about him ,  and he was a very curious person, just wanting to know what was going on. He loved people and was never afraid to interact with any one group. Those close around him, family and friends felt that he was just curious to what was going on and was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was always fun to be around.

08/29/19 07:16 PM #10    

Wynne Arndt (Metcalf)

Nick was a good guy. He was the goodest guy. He was not at a protest. The protest was 2 blocks away at the Rock Chalk. He was killed by a bad man.

09/20/19 09:35 PM #11    

Martha Heizman (Engle)

Nick was best friends with the guy I was dating  & I spent alot of time with him at KU & ZBT fraternity. The circumstances of his death were that a VW was overturned & he thought it was his car, so he ran towards it. The police shot into the crowd & he was killed. His funeral was the saddest thing I've ever attended. He was such a funny guy that I thought he'd sit up & say "fooled you." I was heartbroken when he didn't. Such a tragedy.

04/23/23 11:24 AM #12    

Dave Suptic

City moving forward on markers to memorialize Tiger Dowdell and Nick Rice, killed by Lawrence police in 1970

See the full article at the website below:

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