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Local legend Loreen Rice Lucas dies at 96 0

By Sara Ross, Orillia Packet & Times

Loreen Rice Lucas always wanted to be a writer. It wasn't until she was in her 80's and acquired a second-hand computer for $200 that her writing career began.Rice Lucas, a former Packet & Times columnist and Oro Township Citizen of the Year passed away on Saturday at 96 years old.SUBMITTED PHOTO

Loreen Rice Lucas always wanted to be a writer. It wasn't until she was in her 80's and acquired a second-hand computer for $200 that her writing career began.Rice Lucas, a former Packet & Times columnist and Oro Township Citizen of the Year passed away on Saturday at 96 years old.SUBMITTED PHOTO

Loreen Rice Lucas always wanted to be a writer. It wasn't until she was in her 80s and acquired a second-hand computer for $200 that her writing career began.

Rice Lucas, a former Packet & Times columnist and Oro Township Citizen of the Year passed away on Saturday at 96 years old.

"She always wanted to be a writer and she had a family to raise, so it wasn't until around her 80th birthday that she learned to use a computer and started writing," Lucas's daughter Joy Sowman said on Monday.

In her Packet columns, Lucas spoke of personal observations on current events, life, interesting reminiscences and observations of nature.

"She enjoyed telling everything she could about her life," Sowman said. "She had some professor... in high school say she would write someday,"

Rice Lucas wrote six books, called the Apple Pie series, while she was between 80 and 90 years old.

"The first book Outhouses and Apple Pie is sort of the story of our life," Sowman said.

The family moved from Midland in the 1940s to operate a general store in Mitchell Square in Oro.

"It's a whole story about the things that happened and interesting things. In the end, that store burnt down. We lost everything but the clothes on our back."

As Rice Lucas tells the story, the history of Oro Township is also detailed, Sowman said.

Rice Lucas, who self-published and promoted Outhouses and Apple Pie, sold more than 3,500 copies of that first book.

While speaking to The Packet in 2000, Rice Lucas had a message to tell about her books.

"They are not recipe books. Everyone looks at the covers of my books and they look at me and they say 'Is it a recipe book?' I have to say 'Well, why? Do you think an old lady can't write anything but recipe books,' because this is not a recipe book."

Rice Lucas was named 1993 Citizen of the Year for Oro, helped write historical publications in Oro and encouraged the building of the Simcoe County Museum in Barrie.

In 2005, she was honoured with the Nelle Carter Woman of the Year award by the the Orillia Business Women's Association.

At the time, Rice Lucas was beginning to feel more like herself after facing a degenerative bone problem in 2004.

"It has given me a great reassurance that I was able to do these things. It was a real blessing to me. I'm back being myself again," she said at the time.

Rice Lucas raised five children of her own. Prior to that, she took in three children who lost their mother and raised them.

During her lifetime, she was also a real estate broker and general insurance agent.

Being heavily involved in Hawkestone United Church and her community was very important to Rice Lucas.

"She got involved in just about everything she could," Sowman said.

Anyone interested in purchasing a book from the Apple Pie series can contact Joy Sowman at 705-728-2309.

sross@orilliapacket.com


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