There are heroines and heroes all around us that we take for granted. They are not complainers. They rarely judge or put others down. They usually have experienced very painful times in their lives. They are humble because they know their flaws and mistakes. They don’t brag. They seem to “know” what life’s about and have a “spiritual” sense about everything. They have a sense of humor that is rich and folksome.
Jim Rex was all of these and more.
Jim and I grew up on Harrison Avenue in Lima across the street from each other. Lima Stadium and Epworth Methodist Church were 1½ blocks away — “our stadium, our church.” On the curb lawn in front of my house were two maple trees. One tree had roots all over the place. Jim and I played with our little World War II cars and trucks under those trees. We made tunnels, overpasses, garages and decks — our own city and interstate. One time we played a whole week under those maple trees, just sticks, stones and little vehicles.
In the fifth grade Jim was severely burned in a gas explosion. He spent six months in Lima Memorial Hospital in unspeakable pain and nearly died. He came back as a different youngster. He had multiple surgeries. A good athlete, Jim could no longer play the rough and tumble of contact sports.
Jim chaired our Lima South High reunion committee. We were South’s last class and I heard teachers say there was something special about our class.
Jim was one classmate who made us “special.” Jim and Judy had us stay overnight at their home in Spencerville several times. Their house was warm and cozy with family photos everywhere. Judy made fabulous brunches that were a feast to behold and a shame to eat. One time I told Judy how beautiful her table was. She smiled. I looked at Jim. He smiled and looked at Judy with such deep pride and love. They are both heroes.
I miss my friend who is always more than a brother. Many of us miss our hero, Jim Rex, who passed away April 1 at age 83.
Donald L “Tyke” Spencer, Oberlin