Dorothy “Dottie” Rice, an adjunct linguistics lecturer at Binghamton University, died Saturday afternoon following a bicycle accident.
Rice, 64, was struck by a car while riding her bike on State Route 434 in Owego, N.Y.
She was known for being an inspirational teacher and strong advocate for the local deaf community. Rice first began working with the deaf community at the age of 28, when she encountered an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter at her church.
Nia Terrelonge, a senior majoring in environmental studies, took both ASL I and II with Rice. According to Terrelonge, her classes were about more than just learning ASL.
“It was as much an anthropology class as it was a language class,” Terrelonge said. “Her goal was to enlighten us about culture and break down the stigmas and stereotypes about deaf culture, to give us a picture of who they are and what they stand for. She gave us a beautiful picture of deaf culture.”
Samantha Elmes, a senior majoring in psychology, was Rice’s teaching assistant last year. Elmes said she will remember Rice for her positive effect on people.
“She lived her life and loved what she did, the way she taught you could tell that’s where she wanted to be,” Elmes said. “I think that people should just know how much she lived, that falls by the wayside when you think about people dying, she’s someone who’s always done what she loved and that’s really admirable.”
Terrelonge said Rice’s positive outlook was a hallmark of her personality.
“Always said everything with a smile; even when she was going through personal grief, she always stayed positive,” Terrelonge said.
Aimee Dixon, who will be taking over Rice’s classes for the rest of the year, said she will mourn the loss of her co-worker and mentor.
“[Rice] taught me that I would have to break down my walls and let the students get to know me personally, be able to see my emotions, and get to know me better,” Dixon wrote in an email. “It was from her that I took the knowingness to love my students unconditionally because they need and deserve it.”
Dixon said Rice will be remembered for being a religious and loving woman.
“She really wanted to love each person that God had put within her reach and you could really see that within her soul,” Dixon said.
Even after losing both her brother and her sister last semester, Rice remained hopeful, positive and happy.
“She told me she was ‘never afraid of death,’” Terrelonge said.
Rice wrote her own obituary from her hospital bed in Endicott and included in it only positive ideas about meeting up with loved ones and Christ in heaven and thanked those she left behind.
Dixon said Rice, who worked with the deaf and taught ASL at BU, Broome Community College and Broome-Tioga BOCES, will inspire others to do good.
“I know that everyone wants to do Dottie proud,” Dixon wrote. “She gave to us her goodness and loving spirit each time that she graced our presence. Now it is our turn to spread that goodness to others and show the love that she had for each of us, often times without even knowing that we needed it.”
Visitation hours will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday at the Allen Memorial Home, 511-513 East Main Street, Endicott, N.Y. A service will immediately follow at Union Center Christian Church.
Students affected by Rice’s death can contact the University Counseling Center at (607) 777-2772.