Brian Rice, who owned the Rice Toyota car dealership in Courtenay, passed away on Friday, May 4. He was 62.
“He was quite a guy,” said his longtime friend Dr. Lyle Myrfield. “He came here 35 years ago. He raised a family here, ran a successful business here. When I think of him, I think of all the huge contributions he made to the community.”
Rice was a past-president of the Courtenay Rotary Club and the Comox Valley Chamber, and was involved in hospice.
“He was one of the ones who was instrumental in getting our hospice in town here,” Myrfield said. “His devotion to helping out the community was top rate. He’s one of those pillars of the community. He was an all-around good person.”
Finneron Hyundai president Mike Finneron proposed Rice for Courtenay Rotary in 1983.
“His father (Bob) had a Chevrolet dealership in Prince George,” Finneron said. “That’s how he got into the business. His father sold the business and then they bought the Toyota store in town here.”
Rice Toyota supported charities, and sponsored the arts, culture and sports. In 2014, shortly after the business celebrated its 31st year, it received the Pinnacle Award from Toyota Canada. The award is emblematic of excellence in customer satisfaction in sales and service. Rice Toyota had won the same award in 2008.
“Brian had a generous spirit and invested greatly in our community, supporting many initiatives and projects in the Comox Valley,” the Chamber said in a statement. He was nominated for the Chamber’s Business Leadership Award in 2017.
Rice is survived by his wife Carol, daughter Kristen, and sons Andrew and Derek.
Tributes flow in
Following are some comments about Rice on the Comox Valley Toyota Facebook page:
Comox Mayor Paul Ives: A life very well lived as a family man, an entrepreneur and dedicated community leader. He will be sorely missed by family, friends and all those in our community who benefitted from his service above self as a Rotarian.
Bill Burns: News I wasn’t expecting. My association with Brian was as a 4Runner buyer and more importantly as a fellow Rotarian. Skiing, golfing, family man. Brian lived a good life and gave back, making the world a better place.
Rick Barrs: I am so very sorry to hear this news. My very first job in the car business was with Brian. I am so very sorry for Carol and family. Brings back a lot of good memories. He helped turn me into the man I became. Almost 35 years of doing what I loved…. Selling cars and looking after all the local people. What a loss for the community and the automotive industry.
Deb McLean: I’m heart-broken over the loss of Brian, he was a good neighbour and will be deeply missed.