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It is likely no surprise that Lakewood Middle School music teacher Dr. Dieter Rice grew up in a musical family. 

“I remember music lessons on the family antique upright piano when I was 5 or 6 years old,” Dr. Rice remembers. That early learning expanded into playing of several more instruments and culminated in earning a doctorate in performing on the saxophone. Dr. Rice has shared his love of music with youth through teaching since 1999 and has taught in Lakewood for the past 7 years.  

This spring his family made the generous donation of a Kohler and Campbell SKG 500 baby grand piano valued at approximately $7500. “It is in mint condition and has an excellent sound,” Dr. Rice explained. 

However, this piano is not the one where Dr. Rice first learned to play his scales. His parents, Ron and Patricia, retired a few years ago after more than 41 years in the Shoreline area. With Dr. Rice and his brothers having no room to house the antique piano, their parents left it in the Shoreline house for the children of the next family to live there.  

The elder Rices moved to Sequim for its slower pace of life. Surprisingly, their new home came with this baby grand piano. Unfortunately, their retirement was soon interrupted by illness and sadly, the death of Mrs. Rice. In declining health himself, the elder Mr. Rice was forced to downsize again leaving the “new” piano without a home.  

Baby grand donated in honor of mother 

It was returning from a Sequim visit to help his father pack that Dr. Rice was struck with an idea. “Oh my, I thought, dad could donate that piano to Lakewood Middle School,” he recalled.  

The piano in the middle school’s music department was growing old. Some of the keys needed repair and the exterior finish was deteriorating. LMS students had named it “Crusty.” Replacing the old piano was under consideration but the cost would be a big hit to the school’s tight budget. The only concern Dr. Rice had was how to move the baby grand from Sequim to Lakewood Middle School. He should not have worried.  

The Lakewood Middle School Music Boosters Club eagerly donated the cost of travel, set up and a fine tuning that is always required after a piano is moved. The Club has a history of making generous contributions to the middle school’s music program. Club members have raised dollars needed to purchase choir risers, improve acoustics in the music classrooms, and repair many band instruments. 

Donating the new piano in his mother’s memory is special to Dr. Rice. “I always felt a bit guilty my home was not large enough for our antique piano,” he explained. He believes his mom would be honored to know this gift will benefit students learning music for years to come.   

No word yet on a name for the new baby grand. Maybe it should be Patsy as Dr. Rice’s mom was known to her family and friends.