Aaron Rice, 35, of Pine Bluff was born March 15, 1984, and died from an accidental overdose, leaving this Earth, his loved ones, and the chains of addiction behind on July 26, 2019. Aaron was a native of Montrose and a resident of Pine Bluff for the past four years. He was a 2002 graduate of Hamburg High School. To know Aaron at his core was to love a talented, funny, beautiful young man who thrived on making people laugh and entertaining them with music, jokes, and silly voices. Aaron could pick up just about any instrument and play a song just by hearing it. No matter where he was, he was making music and cracking jokes.
When he laughed, his eyes squinted so hard they almost closed. He was devilishly handsome with a signature smile that always hinted he was up to something, even if he wasn’t. His favorite snack was taking a Mike & Ike’s candy, a Sour Patch Kid, and wrapping it in an Air Head. His creativity knew no bounds.
Despite his enormous personality and loving heart, Aaron struggled with substance abuse since high school. His desire to cover pain in his heart and mind drove him to alcohol and harder drugs over the years. His family and friends were broken-hearted, hurt, and angry over and over as he went down many dark paths. He made attempts at sobriety, some more successful for longer periods of time than others.
He talked about death often, as he seemed to know it was following him in his darkest times. He loved Jeff Buckley and requested “Last Goodbye” be played at his funeral. Aaron saw himself in the lives of other tortured souls, and he found coping with his demons impossible when sober. In one of Aaron’s songs “Good Enough” he sang “so much for hope, I cannot change” and “the drugs have chose to break me down.” This raw honesty was something Aaron would reveal to his closest confidantes, who despite their best efforts, could not fix his problems.
His friendships and family relationships suffered. Watching an addict self-destruct is something no family should ever endure, but it, unfortunately, is too common. He often hurt the people he loved, even though they knew he didn’t want to. Many of his friends had to leave their relationships with him in the past in order to preserve their own well-being. There is no doubt that all of us who loved him at his best - and at his worst - are suffering with every last “what if.” We are sad. We are angry. We are numb. If these are the emotions that drove Aaron to use, it is no surprise that he and so many others succumb to addiction.
It is a bitter pill to realize that he is gone now forever and that his death was the result of his choices; however, Aaron is now free from the torture of chemical dependency and the anguish that goes along with it.
It is our wish to honor Aaron by being honest about how wonderful he was, but also how flawed he was, especially in his final years. If someone can overcome the demons of drugs or alcohol by knowing Aaron’s story, our words will have purpose and his life will not be in vain.
He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Kenneth & Beatrice Breedlove Rice, and Harold & Marzell Graves; an uncle, Lemar Rice, and his step-mother, Cindy Rice.
He leaves behind in grief his mother, Dee Graves Thomason and her husband, Hoss, of Pine Bluff; his father, Mark Rice on Montrose; four brothers: Adam Rice and wife, Chelsea, of Benton; Alex Rice and wife, Rebecca, of Goliad, Texas; Jared Rice of Montrose and Nicholas Rice of Monticello; three nieces, Lilly Rice, Paislee Rice, and Georgia Rice; his aunt, Rebecca Parrish of Little Rock and a host of other relatives and treasured friends.
A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, August 3, 2019, in the Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. John Powell officiating. Honorary pallbearers are Courtney Maxwell, Seth Hill, Brandon Harrod, Rich Moore, Carson Pieroni, Mark Powell, Ginger Beck and Andrew Breedlove. The family suggests memorials be made to Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home, Inc., PO Box 28, Hamburg, AR 71646.