Joe David Rice is a native Arkansas and spent 37 years with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. He, for 30 years, served as its director. In his time with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, Rice served 5 Arkansas Governors—Bill Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker, Mike Huckabee, Mike Beebee, and Asa Hutchinson. Rice was born in Paragould and lived in Melbourne, Jonesboro, and Little Rock in his youth. He graduated from McClellan High School In 1970. Rice attended the University of Arkansas, and obtained his Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois.
Rice is using his retirement to continue to celebrate Arkansas and what the state has to offer. His new book, Arkansas Backstories, a collection of stories about the lesser-known aspects of Arkansas was published by The Butler Center in August. A companion volume—More Arkansas Backstories— will be published in the spring of 2019.