Friday, December 14, 2007

Walter Rice, RIP -- December 14, 2007

Walter Rice, whom I am proud to have called a friend, passed away this week.

He was what used to be called a man of parts. Walter, a native of San Francisco, was a PhD, Associate Dean and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a historian who has written on many topics related to transit and railways, a die-hard fan of the San Francisco Giants, and a keeper of goats. This list covers only a small part of his accomplishments.

I remember him as a gentleman, a man of great vitality, a good guy who took an interest in people of all sorts, a family man, and a person who lived to share his great knowledge with others. Walter and his wife Laurie were kind hosts to the many visitors who turned up at their home, including me and my family.

I was honored that he made so many contributions to my cable car website ( I highly recommend his interview with Mrs Barbara Kahn Gardner, the daughter of Samuel Kahn, President of San Francisco's Market Street Railway, the chronology, his articles about the Manx Electric Railway, the Isle of Man Railway, and the Great Orme Tramway, and the many pieces of information and images that Walter allowed me to use.

I also recommend his many books and magazine articles. Here are a few books that come to mind:

  • Of Cables and Grips: The Cable Cars of San Francisco by Walter Rice and Robert Callwell
  • San Francisco's Powell Street Cable Cars by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria
  • San Francisco's Interurban to San Mateo by Walter Vielbaum, Robert Townley, Walter Rice, and Emiliano Echeverria
  • The Key System: San Francisco and the Eastshore Empire (Images of Rail) by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria
  • Rails of California's Central Coast (Coming Soon) by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria

I firmly believe that Walter had a long list of questions ready for when he would meet Andrew Hallidie, Henry Root, James W Harris, and Frank J Sprague. Charles Smallwood probably introduced them. Many people will miss Walter. We are lucky to have known him.

Walter Rice took the photograph of the Great Orme Tramway in Llandudno, Wales. All rights reserved.

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