R. Thomas Rische
R. Thomas Rische

R. Thomas Rische, a well-known retired South High School teacher, amateur historian and former journalist, has died at his Torrance home. He was 82.

Rische, in failing health for several months after he was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy - a rare condition that produces symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease - died last Saturday, said his son, Bruce Rische.

"He faced it stoically," his son said of his father's medical. "He was an amazing, insightful and caring man."

A graveside service has tentatively been set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach. A memorial service will follow at 1 p.m. at the Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Montemalaga Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes.

Rex Thomas Rische was born April 7, 1930, in Lincoln, Neb., to Rex and Carrie Rische.

He graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1952 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Rische moved to Torrance in 1954 and became a reporter at the now-defunct Torrance Herald.

He received a master's degree in sociology in 1962 and a doctorate in 1976, both from USC.

Following the lead of his teacher wife Gerry - the couple would have celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary in June - Rische taught English, journalism and photography at South High for 25 years, and also served as the adviser for the student newspaper.

In retirement, he wrote "The History of Torrance Schools, 1890-2000" and became president of the Seaside Homeowners Association, where he had lived since 1957.

Rische also returned to journalism, editing the defunct Torrance-South Bay New Times and Lomita Headlight and freelancing for the Daily Breeze.

From 1988 to 1995, he was a member of the Los Angeles County Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility.

Rische also served on the city's Cable Television Advisory Board and then the Traffic Commission from 1987 to 2011.

In 2008, he wrote a column for the Breeze reminiscing about the 50 years he had lived in the same Torrance home, a span that covered "200 seasons, 18,300 sunrises and sunsets."

"Sometimes, salesmen call and ask, `Where will you go when you leave your present house?' Rische wrote at the end of the column.

"I discovered a conversation-ending reply: `Oh, to the cemetery I guess.' (Or maybe my ashes could be thrown over the wall behind my house.)"

Apparently, Rische chose the former.

nick.green@dailybreeze.com

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