The country music community is mourning the loss of music industry veteran Tandy Rice, who passed away on Monday (Aug. 4) in a Nashville hospital. He was 76 years old.

Born in Franklin, Tenn., Rice served in the United States Air Force before opening Top Billing International, his successful talent agency that helped launch the careers of some of country music's biggest stars, including Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Jim Ed Brown and Tom T. Hall, among others.

"Tandy was not only one of the greatest agents in the business, but he was also one of the greatest people I've ever known," Parton says (quote via Nashville's Tennessean). "I loved him dearly as a friend. He will live in the heart of this town forever, and forever he will certainly live in mine."

In addition to being known for his business success, Rice was equally known for his generosity. He hosted the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon for numerous years and served on the boards of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Rotary Club and the Battle Ground Academy. He was also the founder of the Rice Family Middle-Tennessee Scholarship Fund at the Citadel and was active in the Boy Scouts of America organization.

The first inductee into the Nashville Association of Talent Directors Hall of Fame, Rice was a former president of the Country Music Association's board of directors and a member of the North American Country Music Hall of Fame.

"He was a funny, larger-than-life figure who is probably the most loving and kind human being you'd ever meet," Rice's daughter, Cynthia Rice Simonet, says. "I can't tell you what a wonderful person and father he was."

Rice is also survived by daughter Marjorie Rice Mason, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A visitation will be held at the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin on Aug. 7, and a memorial service will be held on Aug. 8, also at the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ. The family asks that memorial donations be made to the Rice Scholarship Fund at the Citadel.

The Boot extends our deepest condolences to Rice's family, friends and other loved ones.

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