Judge Rice to receive award today for support of children, families

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Walter H. Rice discusses race relations in Dayton on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in his chambers at the Federal Building in Dayton. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

A Dayton federal judge whose name will soon go up on the courthouse where he’s worked since 1980 will be given another honor today for the impact he’s had on the lives of area children and families.

Senior U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice will receive the 19th Annual Brother Raymond L. Fitz Award from the Montgomery County Family and Children First Council during a luncheon Wednesday.

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“Judge Rice has been a stalwart supporter of families and children in Montgomery County, championing issues of reentry and fatherhood, as well as diversity and dialogue,” said Debbie Lieberman, Montgomery County Commission president. “Judge Rice believes in giving people the opportunity to recover and be restored to their families and their communities, and he has truly dedicated his entire life to this work.”

A Pittsburgh native, Rice began his law career in Dayton in 1964 as an assistant Montgomery County prosecutor. After serving on the bench in the Dayton Municipal Court and the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Rice was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in 1980. He previously served as chief judge on the court from 1996 to 2003, and currently is a senior status judge on the court.

The award, named after former University of Dayton President Brother Raymond L. Fitz, honors citizens who exemplify Fitz’s dedication to nurturing and protecting children and families through daily efforts in the community, according to the county.

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Among his many community activities, Rice is co-chair of the Montgomery County Re-entry Council, which focuses on helping returning citizens re-integrate into the community with dignity.

“After almost 50 years of sentencing and re-sentencing the same people, and often different generations of the same family, I firmly believe that helping people successfully reenter the community after a criminal justice sentence is the only viable way to combat recidivism,” Rice said.

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President Donald Trump signed a bi-partisan bill on Dec. 13 designating the building at 200 West Second St. in Dayton as the Walter H. Rice Federal Building and United States Courthouse.

The award event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Top of the Market, 32 Webster St. in Dayton.

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