Bice — Tilley Family of Merrick County, Nebraska

Ethel Bice is the daughter of the late William H. and Etta Campbell Bice and was born near Chapman in 1901. She has two brothers, Lawrence, of Paradise, California, and Stanley B. of Central City. She married Ralph W. Tilley in 1929.

Ralph Tilley is the son of the late Will F. and Floy S. Wilcox Tilley and was born in 1902 near Grand Island. He has a brother, George, living in Grand Island and a sister, Vera Tilley Nolte, in Savannah, Missouri, and a sister, Mildred, who is deceased.

Ethel and Ralph were married in 1929 and they have two sons: Donald, born in Alda, Nebraska, and Loran, born in Central City.

Ethel spent two years at Nebraska Central College Academy and finished high school in Central City. Ethel and Ralph both attended and graduated from Grand Island Baptist College. Two years later, they were married at the Bice home in Central City. Ethel sold Compton Encyclopedias during summer vacations. They both taught high school in Chambers, Nebraska. Ralph was the Superintendent for five years. The next four years, he was Superintendent at Alda, Nebraska. He also coached basketball.

While living in Alda, Donald was born. Ethel and Ralph were both active in church work, coached high school plays, and led 4-H Clubs. They moved to Central City to the Bice farm. Ralph continued to lead 4-H Clubs and was Superintendent of the Chapman Sunday School for several years.

In 1940, they bought one thousand turkeys and had them ready for market when an early November blizzard killed five hundred of them. They raised turkeys commercially for several years.

Their second son, Loran, was born in 1942. Both Donald and Loran attended District #39 grade school.

In 1950, the family bought the Hall County Poor Farm and moved to Grand Island.

Donald graduated from G.I. High School in 1952 and went to Sioux Falls College for two years. To get special work, he attended and graduated from Nebraska U. While there, he met his future wife, Gwyn Wynne. After their marriage, they moved to California where Donald entered Fuller Seminary. After two years, they went to Chicago where he graduated from Baptist Seminary. He served as pastor in several northern Kansas churches. They moved to the eastern U.S. where he taught and studied before returning to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he is with the Nebraska Educational System. They have two children, Michael John and Michele.

Loran Tilley graduated from Grand Island High School and earned his B.S. degree at Sioux Falls College. He married Marlene Haase and they moved to Wyoming where he taught in the State Reformatory. They had two children, Todd and Ami Joe. This marriage broke up. Loran returned to Grand Island and later married Kay Wondercheck, who had three children from a previous marriage.

After Ethel and Ralph’s retirement, they moved into the city. Loran and family live on the family farm.

Submitted by Ethel Tilley


Merrick County Historical Society, History of Merrick County, Nebraska (1981), Volume I, Dallas, Texas : Taylor Publishing Company, 1981.

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