Publication Date: January 05, 2000
Source: The Record, Northern New Jersey
Page: L01

Region: North America; Mountain Region United States; New Mexico
Obituary: Harriet Tice’s stone house stands out on Chestnut Ridge Road, surrounded by glass-facade office
complexes and gas stations, like a wallflower at a glitzy dance.
For eight decades Tice lived in that house, beginning when the now- busy area was nothing but furrowed
fields and orchards.
Tice was the matriarch of the prominent VAN RIPER and Tice families, farming clans whose agricultural roots
stretch back to Colonial times.
Her death on Christmas Eve, at age 98, marks the end of an era that predated many of today’s suburbanites.
“Everybody knew her as ‘Ma’ _ all the customers and workers _ for years,” Elva DuBois, Tice’s eldest child,
said Tuesday. “She did a lot of traveling. She went from riding the buggy to the Concorde.”
Harriet Tice and her late husband, Frank, operated Tice Farms, one of the largest roadside markets in New
Jersey and a Bergen County landmark that consisted of 200 acres _ and, eventually, a multimillion-dollar
office and hotel development.
Tice Farms attracted visitors from throughout the New York metropolitan area who came for its fresh
peaches and homemade sweets.
The family business eventually was passed on to the Tices’ son, Richard, who at age 6 began working on the
farm picking flowers and grew up to be an entrepreneur.
The market, Tice Farms Country Mall, added to the family’s growing wealth, which included 100 acres of
prime real estate in Woodcliff Lake, plus the 100-acre Tice Campus, which boasts a posh, 400-room Hilton
A chunk of Tice’s remaining farmland was sold last year to a commercial developer. The stand that sold
fresh pumpkin pies and apple cider for years closed for good. A strip mall is planned for the site, with stores
such as The Gap, Banana Republic, and Pottery Barn among its tenants.
Harriet Tice spent her entire life in northern Bergen County and, with two children, seven grandchildren, and
13 great-grandchildren, was more than just one of Bergen County’s oldest residents.
“All my life, I’ve been busy,” she told The Record in 1984.
“People say farming is a hard life, but it’s what you make it,” Tice said at the time. “Old-school followers say
any job is what you make it yourself.”
Family friends said they’ll miss her eloquence and enthusiasm.
“She worked hard all her life,” said Mary Mahoney, a business partner of Richard Tice who knew Harriet
Tice for more than 50 years.
“She lived her life to the fullest extent. . . . She had such a wonderful outlook about life.”
A short, slight woman with a dignified smile, Harriet Tice was born Harriet VAN RIPER. Her first home was
only a few hundred yards from where she lived until her death.
The VANRIPER already had roots in the land, having been given a grant by King Charles II of England in
1663 for 500 acres near Montvale.
Tice’s formal education was short-lived, but she recalled her childhood fondly. She walked more than two
miles to the two-room schoolhouse on Woodcliff Avenue, she said, and in the winter was driven to her class
in the family buggy.
The marriage of Harriet and Frank Tice in 1928 _ in a ceremony held in the living room of the VAN RIPER
house _ united the two prominent farming families.
The couple lived for a year in the VAN RIPER homestead on the east side of Chestnut Ridge Road, directly
opposite the Tice farm. Then Frank Tice built a new home, made entirely from stones he gathered by hand
from the fences that divided pastures.
In 1979, a fire destroyed the original farmstand. The family then built its famed red-colored wooden building,
which was torn down last year to make room for the new shopping center.
“When the farm burned down, I remember how sad she was,” said Woodcliff Lake Mayor Josephine
Higgins, who frequented Tice Farms for five decades while growing up in Ridgewood and is a nurse at
Pascack Valley Hospital, where Harriet Tice spent some of her final days. “It was a moment of anguish in her
“But she had unbelievable stamina.”