Wife of TV preacher Larry Rice files for divorce
By Terry Ganey
Jefferson City Bureau Chief
JEFFERSON CITY - Penny Ann Rice, who for more than 30 years has ministered to the poor with her husband, the Rev. Larry Rice, has filed for divorce claiming irreconcilable differences.
In a petition filed last month in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, Rice complained that the television preacher had "repeatedly inflicted verbal abuse and uncontrolled rage" upon her during their marriage.
Rice, 55, said that she cannot be expected to continue to live with her husband and that there was no reasonable likelihood that the marriage could be preserved. She asked the court to divide the couple's property fairly and to restore her maiden name, Penny Bean.
Larry Rice said he hoped to preserve his marriage and was seeing a counselor.
"The last thing I want to do is project anger on my wife, or staff or anyone else," he said Friday.
The couple separated Aug. 31. They have three children, ages 31, 29 and 27.
Larry Rice, 56, is the head of New Life Evangelistic Center in St. Louis. He's best known for his TV ministry, advocacy for the poor and social activism.
The couple have been married 33 years. They met while attending Concordia Lutheran College in Austin, Texas. After two years in Austin, Larry Rice left for another Lutheran college in Fort Wayne, Ind. The couple married the day after graduation.
The divorce petition was first filed Oct. 19. Larry Rice filed a motion seeking to have the petition dismissed on the grounds that it failed to state a cause. Penny Rice responded with a more specific complaint last month. She said she currently worked at a law office in Jefferson City.
Larry Rice's lawyer has asked the court to dismiss the second petition as well.