|Birth: ||Mar. 8, 1889|
|Death: ||Mar. 16, 1960|
Husband of Margaret (Tanner) Brice.
Civic and industrial leader, builder and financier, Mitchell Francis Brice, affectionately known as "Mitch", was for many years a prime factor in the business and industrial development, in the civic and community progress, of the Vidalia area. Founder and president of the Brice Banking Company, he was prominently identified with several different types of business, all of which he served as president: Tanner-Brice Wholesale Grocery Company, a chain of stores covering a wide area of Georgia; Pal Amusement Company, operators of a theatre chain; the Dixie Supply Company and Dixie Oil Company, Shell distributors; and the Vidalia Broadcasting Company, of which he was co-owner. Mr. Brice maintained considerable interests throughout the South.
He was born at Magnolia Bluff, North Carolina, on March 8, 1889, the son of Joseph Parrish and Nancy Jane (Herring) Brice. The Brice family is an old one, tracing back before the Revolutionary War in this country. The earliest known American ancestor was Colonel William Brice, who moved from Beaufort to Camp Precinct, North Carolina, in 1704. He built Brice's Fort, the ruins of which are still standing, and which he defended against the Indians for many years. He was active in the early Colonial period of North Carolina, representing Craven County in the Provincial Assembly. His son, Captain Brice, was born in 1703, and his son, Joseph Brice, married Martha Stallings, daughter of Major Shadrack Stallings, a member of the North Carolina Legislature and an officer in the Revolutionary War. Their son, William Burrell Brice, grandfather of the subject, was born April 1, 1819, married the former Margaret Anne Register (1830-1905), became the father of Joseph Parrish Brice on May 9, 1849, and died on February 12, 1902. Joseph Parrish Brice married Nancy Jane Herring, daughter of William Thomas and Sara (West) Herring, and to their union was born the subject, Mitchell Francis Brice. Joseph Parrish Brice died on October 22, 1900.
Mitchell F. Brice attended the public schools prior to entering Sparks Collegiate Institute in Sparks, Georgia. From there he went on to study at Mercer University in Macon. It is impossible to place a date for the beginning of his business career. He had that insatiable curiosity which always precedes inquiry; and inquiry precedes knowledge. Mr. Brice wanted to know why things were as they were and what could be done about it. He did not just speculate -- he acted. He earned money at an early age, and money, even for landowners and gentry, did not come easy in the Reconstruction South. He came to maturity in the opening years of the Twenteith Century, when the South was still a sleeping giant, numbed by the paralysis of Reconstruction Efforts. He saw opportunity wherever it existed; and, of course, it always existed everywhere for those who can and will see. Mr. Brice saw that a man must go into business for himself if he is to succed, and that is what he did at the first opportunity. Formation of the Tanner-Brice Company came first. And out of this firm emerged a chain of stores that was to cover much of Georgia. But this did not happen quickly or easily. The first success comes hard, and he and his partners did hard work for some time.
It is a cliche to state that one thing leads to another; but any man who has done business on a large scale knows the truth of this simple statement. Opening stores in different communities gave Mr. Brice an insight into the economic life of those areas, revealed to him things that were lacking, that were needed, or should be improved. And one opportunity does lead to another. Mercantile success gave him an opportunity to speculate in other fields, to buy property and to build in stratefic areas. He saw the need for amusement in the lives of people and formed such a company, specializing in the operation of a chain of motion picture theatres. A shell Oil dealership seemed advantageous and proved to be so. His interests steadily increased until they were spread out over a considerable portion of Georgia. Atlanta and Miami, Florida, were also centers of operations that were strategically spread throughout the Southeast. But Vidalia remained his home and the center of all his operations. His activities added considerably to the stability of the Vidalia area. He was a landowner and developer, an investor and builder, in addition to his other activities, and loved to look for the opportunity overlooked by others. His was no formula; he liked people and circulated among them constantly, but never lost his eye for an opportunity or his capacity to act quickly.
Mr. Brice served as a private in the United States Army during World War I. His college fraternity at Mercer was Sigma Nu. He was active in Masonic Orders and was a member of the Shrine. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Moose Lodge counted him as a member for a number of years. Social clubs included the Vidalia County Club, the Athletic Club of Atlanta, and East Lake Country Club in Atlanta. He generously supported every movement for the advancement of Vidalia, the county, and the area. The Red Cross benefited from his services as donor and officer on more than one occasion. He served with the Gold Coast Empire Council of Savannah, Boy Scouts of America, and received the Silver Beaver Award, the highest gift from within the Scout movement. His church was the First Baptist, which he served as a deacon, treasurer, and member of the building committee. Mr. Brice was generous to many causes, always supported local charity drives, but reserved some of his philanthropic efforts to privacy. He was for many years a staunch supporter and benefactor of the Children's Orphan's Home at Baxley, where a building stands as tangible evidence of his continued interest in the plight of those less privileged and less fortunate.
On December 16, 1913, at Douglas, Mitchell Francis Brice married Margaret Tanner, daughter of Berry Hampton and Roseanne (Sears) Tanner. Mr. and Mrs. Brice were the parents of three children: (1.) Mitchell Francis Brice, II, died at birth. (2.) Margaret Brice was born on August 19, 1919, in Douglas, attended Duke University, and was married to John E. Ladson, II, on December 31, 1941. Mr. Ladson is the son of John Elzie and Annie Laurie (Rhodes) Ladson and was also a student at Duke University. Mr. and Mrs. Ladson are the parents of two children -- John E. Ladson III, born January 4, 1948, and Mitchell Brice Ladson, born January 18, 1951. (3.) Tanner Herring Brice was born on August 7th, 1926, in Vidalia, attended Emory University and Babson's School of Business Administration, and was married to the former Catherine Meeks on December 16, 1951. They have two children -- Mitchell Francis Brice, III, born December 19, 1955, and Mary Margaret Brice, born on November 26, 1959.
Death came to this distinguished executive and builder on March 16, 1960, in a hospital at Savannah in his seventy-first year. Vidalia and the area around it will never be the same without his man who was for so long a pillar of that community, but he left behind the two finest things -- fond memories and progeny to carry on.
Joseph Parish Brice (1849 - 1900)
Nancy Jane Herring Brice (1846 - 1915)
Margaret Tanner Brice (1899 - 1949)*
Infant Brice (1917 - 1917)*
Margaret Rilza Brice Ladson (1919 - 1966)*
Tanner Herring Brice (1926 - 1980)*
Sallie Celeste Brice Goodman (1877 - 1966)*
Bessie Brice McDermid (1882 - 1967)**
Amanda Lurline Brice Tanner (1883 - 1954)*
Lillian E. Brice Threlkeld (1887 - 1932)*
Mitchell Francis Brice (1889 - 1960)
Pinecrest Cemetery & Mausoleum
Maintained by: Little Marie
Originally Created by: Calvin Kyle Bobbitt
Record added: Jun 09, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11134263