William M. Rice Jr.

The One We Were Named After

In 1900, William Marsh Rice meant to establish Rice University in his namesake following his death. Then, Willy was poisoned by Albert Patrick, his evil conspiring butler who planned to steal Willy's multimillion-dollar fortune, procured, of course, from being a successful industrial revolution businessman. The evil Albert Patrick even forged a fake will that deeded Willy's fortune to Albert Patrick as the beneficiary. Oh no!

But, with the expert help of James A. Baker (Willy's buddy-bro from work) and William M. Rice Jr. (Willy's nephew, Will Rice!) the true will was resurfaced and carried out, and Mr. Patrick was sentenced to death. After many years, the money that Albert Patrick tried to steal went toward its original purpose: to establish the best university in the country, Rice University, in the year 1912.

Seriously. You can't make this stuff up. It's straight out of a Western. And if you've ever been on a tour of Rice University, you know this story.

Anyway, in the late 50s, Rice University decided that the residential college system would be an amazing idea to implement on its grounds. So, James A. Baker donated a boatload of money to establish Baker College. No one really cared about that.

It was the year 1957, and by this time, Will Rice was already super wealthy because he had been involved in the lumber business as well as being a founder of the Union Bank and Trust Company, president of the merchants and Planters Oil Company, and director of the Guardian Trust and Company. Basically, he was smart, sophisticated, accomplished, and a wealthy-as-hell baller. And what do wealthy people do with their tons of monies? They become philanthropists.

And what better way to spend his money than to establish a residential college of his very own, at the very educational institution that Will Rice's uncle established, especially when Will Rice even served on the Rice University Board of Trustees?

Then Will Rice he said "Let there be Will Rice College!" and he wrote a check for some tens of thousands of dollars-because back then, that's all you really needed to establish any given institution.

And then lesser colleges were established by lesser benefactors. No need to go into detail.

-Author: Veronica Rae Saron, WRC'14