Harold R. Rex
September 1, 1926 – March 3, 2019
Harold R. Rex, 92, died at home surrounded by loved ones following a life filled with love and adventure.
He was born in Pittsburgh in 1926, where his father ran a lumber business. He was close to his older brother David, playing ice hockey together and sledding on the steep hills. Always bright and opinionated, Harold was an excellent student, but was sometimes accused of being argumentative and intellectually arrogant. He started college, but was drafted into the military near the end of WWII and spent two years in Germany and France, where he cultivated a lifelong love of using and playing with German words. After the military, he re-enrolled at Carnegie Tech, earning a degree in chemical engineering. He spent 30 years working at B. F. Goodrich. Early in his career he served in more technical roles and later in corporate strategic planning.
In the early 1960s, Harold blossomed in many ways. He and his first wife Janie had five children – Anne, Halle, David, Bill, and Chuck. Their home was a busy, noisy, loving hubbub of kids, their own and many others who came for the fun, relative freedom, and endless activity. Harold built a tennis court and a pond for swimming. He loved a physical challenge and was competitive and gleeful on the many occasions when he won at volleyball, touch football, or tennis.
Harold was generous with what he called his “funny money”– gifts he gave with an open heart, never expecting anything in return (except perhaps to pay it forward). These unexpected gifts were investments of faith in an individual he cared about, especially young people whom he encouraged to follow their dreams. As a youth fellowship leader, he had a life-changing impact on many teenagers through deep listening, provocative questioning, and non-judgmental support as they thought through their issues and relationships. Many remember fondly his favorite axioms, poetry, and philosophical reflections.
Harold and Nancy married in 1990. He had been part of her life since she was a teenager in the youth fellowship group. At times, he was her mentor and coach, a rock of strength during her own times of trouble, and an inspiration. She was drawn by his humor, wisdom, and sheer zest for living. She looked forward to each and every day with him during their 28 years of marriage. Together, they raised her son, Jason, as his own. In his fearlessness, Harold taught her to challenge her physical and emotional limits, urging her on to experience greater joy and self-confidence. They loved to bicycle, travel, cross-country ski, play piano and sing, and more. He was her dearest companion. Although the last two decades since their motorcycle accident were challenging, they both feel that their years of recovery have been a spiritual journey filled with boundless love and support from family and friends. Their home was (and is) a haven for many who have been adopted or enfolded into their lifelong circle of caring. Harold was one of a kind and he will be sorely missed.
A celebration of Harold’s life will be held at the Billow Fairlawn Chapel, 85 North Miller Road, Akron, OH 44333 on Saturday, March 23 at 11:00 a.m. Family and friends will be received beginning at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial gift to causes he supported: National Wildlife Federation or Youth Challenge.
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