Join Rick Niece on an unforgettable journey, paying tribute to small-town America, the unbreakable bonds of friendship, and the triumph of the human spirit.
Rick is an award-winning author and educator who began his career as a high school English teacher and retired as a university president. His three-book “Fanfare for a Hometown” series includes SIDE-YARD SUPERHERO, THE BAND PLAYS ON, and PERFECT IN MEMORY. The books, awarded over twenty regional and national awards, take readers to small-town American to share his carefully pocketed memories about simpler times, family values, community influence, and personal responsibility. SIDE-YARD SUPERHERO was chosen as the One Book, One Community reading selection in Arkansas and Ohio.
Niece is currently writing children’s books for early readers, as well as for adults who enjoy reading to children. He serves as an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Arkansas SCBWI. Rick and his wife, Sherée, reside in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.
President Emeritus of University of the Ozarks, Dr. Rick Niece is now enjoying retirement and his life as a writer. Rick is a successful One Book/One Community author in Ohio and Arkansas. In addition to his expertise as a former English teacher and university president, he is a dynamic and award-winning educator and motivational speaker. If your organization, club, or school seeks an entertaining and energetic presenter, please contact us for availability.
Growing up in small-town DeGraff, Ohio, teaches Rick that life’s best moments are the innocent ones, especially when seen through the eyes of his hero, Bernie Jones. Born with cerebral palsy, Bernie teaches Rickie that the indomitable human spirit can never be confined.
About Side-Yard Superhero
Although life's journey takes him far from his childhood home, Rick never forgets the people he meets and the lessons he learns as a young man growing up in picturesque DeGraff, Ohio, population 900. A small-town newspaper boy who becomes a lifelong educator, Rick is deeply touched by the endearing residents of DeGraff who shaped his youth — especially a boy named Bernie Jones. With severe cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair, Bernie becomes Rickie’s friend, inspiration, and superhero, opening a world of compassion, trust, and adventure to them both.
When he leaves DeGraff to attend Ohio State University, Rick promises Bernie that he will visit him again. Unfortunately, when Bernie's parents pass away, Bernie disappears, too, taken in by a distant relative. Forty years later, Rick learns that his boyhood friend is living in a nursing home. Returning to Ohio, he visits the never-to-be-forgotten Bernie Jones of a childhood long past and a promise finally kept.
A BUCK A BOOK!
One dollar for every copy of Side-Yard Superhero sold will go directly to United Cerebral Palsy. More information about United Cerebral Palsy is available at ucp.org.
Side-Yard Superhero: Life Lessons From An Unlikely Teacher
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A delightful celebration of music and memory, The Band Plays On takes readers on a poignant journey home to DeGraff, Ohio (population 900). Humor, heartbreak, and hope characterize this inviting small town, where the future of young Rickie Niece is shaped by the unwavering devotion of caring friends and family.
About The Band Plays On
Celebrating the soul of America's heartland, The Band Plays On is Rick Niece's heartfelt tribute to friendship, community, and, most importantly, his father, Lewis Niece. When DeGraff, Ohio's beloved band teacher is invited to direct an encore performance, "Lewie's Alumni Band" gathers to celebrate with gusto. As the band practices for its final parade, Rick, his baritone in tow, reflects on treasured memories, relationships, and the legacy of a small town with indomitable spirit. The second volume in the delightful Fanfare for a Hometown series, The Band Plays On provides an entertaining, inspirational glimpse into lives richly lived — and shared.
A BUCK A BOOK!
One dollar for every copy of The Band Plays On sold will go directly to Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. More information about Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation is available at MHopus.org.
The Band Plays On: Going Home for a Music Man's Encore
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Perfect in Memory celebrates the life of Rick D. Niece’s beloved mother, Dortha Jean “Dodie” Niece. Written as a tribute to a remarkable woman, Niece’s heartfelt remembrances focus with tender reflection on the richness that makes life so beautiful.
About Perfect in Memory
The third book in the award-winning Fanfare for a Hometown series, Perfect in Memory: A Son’s Tribute to His Mother, is a gift Rick D. Niece wishes he had started sooner. Gathering with his family at his mother’s bedside, Rick prepares to say goodbye to the woman who shaped his life and will live on through his memories. During the last four days of her life, Rick remembers his mother’s legacy with tenderness. Savoring the “little moments” of life, he reflects upon his childhood in DeGraff, Ohio, and shares the carefully pocketed memories readers will wish were their own.
A BUCK A BOOK!
One dollar for every copy of Perfect in Memory sold will go directly to Arkansas Hospice. More information about Arkansas Hospice is available at arkansashospice.org.
Following in his father ‘s footsteps, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., is a lifelong educator who has served as a classroom teacher, a public school administrator, and a university professor, provost and president. In 1997, he was named President of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, where he remained steadfast in his devotion to the University's success. Upon his retirement in July 2013, he was named President Emeritus of the University of the Ozarks.
A small-town boy who has maintained his small-town values, Rick Niece remembers his childhood with fond nostalgia. Growing up in picturesque DeGraff, Ohio, young Rickie was influenced by many endearing friends and neighbors who taught him the important life lessons that shaped his future.
Bernie Jones was one of the people who touched his life. With severe cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair, Bernie became Rickie’s friend, inspiration, and superhero, opening a world of compassion, trust, and adventure that benefited them both. From Bernie, Rickie learned the value of unconditional acceptance, kindness, and the triumph of the human spirit — lessons he took with him from his years as a newspaper boy to a career in academia.
Side-Yard Superhero is Rick Niece’s first book in the Fanfare for a Hometown series about his upbringing in DeGraff, Ohio. The book is an “automythography” describing his childhood in rich, vivid detail. Considering himself a "memory keeper," Niece takes readers with him on a poignant journey back in time to a safe haven of heartfelt remembrance. Vibrant, poetic and charming, his stories make DeGraff an open book everyone who appreciates sentiment will want to read.
Dr. Niece is the recipient of multiple awards, both as an author and an educator. He and his wife, Sheree, are retired and living in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. Rick is now able to devote more time to his writing and is available for speaking engagements.
USA Regional Excellence Book Awards - Grand Prize Non-Fiction Midwest, University of Arkansas at Morrilton - One Book One Community Reading Selection, Kent State University at Tuscarawas - One Book One Community Reading Selection, Readers' Favorites - Silver Award, Non-Fiction Memoir, Dan Poynter's Global eBook Award – Bronze, Conversations Book Club - Top 12 Choice, Cyrus Webb's - 25 Books Every Man Should Read, The Great Southeast Book Festival - Biography /Autobiography Honorable Mention, Reader Views Regional Great Lakes - Reviewers Choice Award Winner, New York Book Festival - Honorable Mention, Eric Hoffer Award – Finalist, The Great Northwest Book Festival - Biography/Autobiography Honorable Mention, National Indie Excellence Award - Regional Non-Fiction Finalist, The Great Southwest Book Festival - Biography/Autobiography Honorable Mention, New Mexico-Arizona Book Award - Biography Finalist, Royal Dragonfly Book Award - Newbie Non-Fiction Honorable Mention, Royal Dragonfly Book Award - Biography/Memoir Honorable Mention, Reader Views - Reviewers Choice Award Winner, Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book – Runner Up, Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, Bookvana Awards – Finalist, Autobiography: Male Inspirational/Motivational