Doug Rice of Columbia, South Carolina, was six months into retirement when Brittany Maynard died. Her story moved him, like so many others, to join the push for more and better end-of-life options. “One of the articles I read at the time mentioned Compassion & Choices, so I looked up the organization and got in touch. That’s kind of the genesis,” Rice explains. That contact led to Rice attending seminars in Charlotte, North Carolina; learning the ropes from team leaders in Atlanta and Asheville; and reading everything he could about end-of-life issues before establishing a South Carolina chapter.
A former salesman, Rice has taken his advocacy door to door, visiting retirement homes, churches and other groups to drum up support for end-of-life options. “The greatest sense of accomplishment is when you convince someone to agree that even though their convictions disallow them from considering DWD, that they not withhold it from those of a different viewpoint,” he says. He now also gives “Are You Good to Go?” presentations around the state: “Having people realize for the first time the importance of advance directives delivers a wonderful feeling. I hand out the state forms, and by convincing folks to complete them, hopefully improve their final life experiences.”
The death of Rice’s stepfather around the time he became involved with Compassion & Choices reinforced for him the importance of educating people about – and empowering them with – the entire range of end-of-life options. “I got to see firsthand what a death is like when a person clings to life for every last scrap no matter how painful,” he says. “And it was a pretty horrific death. But understanding my stepfather’s perspective enabled me to see the other side too.”
Rice’s recent projects also include recruiting more lecturers and working with a local legislator who has already drafted an aid-in-dying bill for South Carolina: “I’ve got all the time in the world to devote to C&C. Aside from playing golf five days a week, this is what I love to do.”