Civil rights and business leader Frances Grice dies at 84

Courtesy Photo: Longtime Civil Rights leader Frances Grice, center, passed away on Dec. 31, 2017. She was 84.
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Frances Grice, a longtime champion of civil rights, passed away on New Years Eve at the age of 84.

Grice served as a mentor and a motivator to dozens of community leaders and public officials across the Inland Empire.

“She never quit,” said San Bernardino City Unified School District Board Member Gwen Dowdy Rodgers. “Frances always pushed us to continue and reminded us what we were fighting for.”

Grice came to San Bernardino from Detroit, Michigan in 1962 and immediately began working at St. Bernardine Hospital. She would later become a key figure in the fight for integrated schools within the San Bernardino City Unified School District. In addition to promoting civil rights, Grice founded the Operation Second Chance technical school in 1967 that provided low income youth the opportunity to receive employment training.

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“There are few people here that lived in the 1960s and 70s,” said Grice in a YouTube interview with Glenn Ross in 2013. “They don’t know the struggle we had. They don’t know we had to dodge bullets. They don’t know the KKK was marching down on E Street. We have to make sure our children remember the past.”

San Bernardino Community College District Trustee Joseph Williams said Grice was a community stalwart who always led by example.

“She was just an awesome person,” he said. “She understood the importance of providing opportunities to minorities in our community.”

Despite experiencing many hardships herself, Grice always remained committed to fighting for the rights of others, explained Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes.

“When Frances spoke of injustices, it was personal,” Reyes said. “She could command complete attention when she spoke, even from her wheelchair. She will be missed by so many.”

Other accomplishments include:

National Small Business Advocacy Award recipient

Member of Martin Luther King Jr. Statue Maintenance Committee

All American City representative

NAACP member

As of press time funeral services were not announced.

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  1. I had the pleasure of serving as a congressional district aide to the late Jim Lloyd and on the national congressional committee for the late George Brown. Frances Grice was an excellent orientation to me for knowledge of the character and potential of the Inland Empire. Following the Carter Administration, I had the pleasure of working for Operation Second Chance, Inc. in the areas of training and employment development. Generations owe a debt of gratitude for Ms. Grice’s unrelenting pursuit for justice, equity and personal/community development. There is no such thing as too much truth; the current leadership within the area should reflect on how the foundation was laid — on which they now stand in the Inland and WestEnd areas — before pontificating on their roles of leadership and accomplishment. Solid rock should not be disrespected, forgotten or taken for granted. Personal and economic development challenges can be accomplished — even when getting input from the elders.


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