Judge Walter Rice speaks in a July 2015 photo. Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald said on Facebook Friday that the downtown federal building will be named after Rice. FILE

Dayton federal building to be named after Judge Rice

The federal building and courthouse in downtown Dayton will be named after federal Judge Walter H. Rice, according to members of a panel assembled last year to choose a name for the site. 

Congressman Mike Turner says the building has never had a name since it opened. 

Turner credited Rice for his decades of service of work in the community including at the VA and Wright Brothers historic sites.

Turner convened a panel to come up with a plan and the group chose to name the building after Rice.

“I was honored to serve on Congressman Mike Turner’s Citizens Commemoration Panel,” Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald wrote on Facebook Friday. “It was great to hear all the wonderful suggestions from citizens about who to name the Federal Building & Courthouse after.”

“After considering all suggestions, we chose The Honorable Walter H. Rice,” McDonald added. “Judge Rice has a long career in the justice system and is an amazing change agent. Join me in congratulating Judge Walter H. Rice!”

Rep. Mike Turner talks about the Dayton federal building being renamed in honor of Judge Walter Rice.

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In October 2016, Turner, R-Dayton, said he would introduce legislation to name the courthouse and building, based on what would be the panel’s recommendation.

“The courthouse has served the federal government and the Miami Valley for over 40 years and providing it with a formal designation is long past due,” Turner said last year.

The panel was chaired by Dayton attorney Merle F. Wilberding and included Amanda Wright Lane, a great-grand-niece of the Wright Brothers, Dayton History Chief Executive Brady Kress and eight other members.

Rice is one of the most familiar and respected figures across the Dayton area.

In June 1980, he was sworn in as judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in Dayton, having been appointed to that position by President Jimmy Carter.

Rice served as chief judge of the court from October 13, 1996 to October 12, 2003.

He assumed “senior status” on the court in 2004. And in 2014, he received the Thomas J. Moyer award for judicial excellence.

Wilberding said Sunday the panel “unanimously concluded that our recommendation to Congressman Mike Turner was that the federal building in Dayton be named” after Rice.

 “We were all honored to serve on this committee and strongly believe it is an honor well deserved for Judge Rice,” Wilberding said in an email.