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Rex Howell

August 10, 1930 ~ March 19, 2018 (age 87)

Rex "Tex" L. Howell, CMSgt, USAF Retired 1930-2018

Once upon a time, on August 10, 1930, in Farmland, Indiana, Hancil "Hank" and Juanita (Kolp) Howell brought their 3rd little human into the world. (With no one the wiser that 9 more little Howell's would follow).  They named this one Rex Loren. Rex grew up on the farm milking cows, baling hay, working the fields, playing basketball for Farmland High School and being a great brother to all his siblings. He made the hard decision to leave the family farm and to serve his country, so the day after his 18th birthday, on a hot summer day, he joined the United States Air Force, where he unknowingly would build his prosperous future.

He met the mother of his 4 daughters during one of his adventures to the skating rink in Selma, Indiana. He was too cool to skate though, he just went to scope out all the pretty girls...his forever weakness! Gloria Patricia "Patty" Singer and Rex married in 1949 and began their family in 1950. This family consisted of  four beautiful & smart girls...all of which where born in different places, both in and out of the good ol' USA, thanks to their military way of life. Pati Ann in Portsmouth, Virginia; Lorin Denise in Muncie, Indiana; Kimi (Kimiko) Lynne in Japan and Kay C. in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rex treasured his time as a military man and excelled to the highest rank that an enlisted man could obtain, Chief Master Sergeant (E9).  Retiring after 22 years of service, as a USAF aircraft chief mechanic, Rex just wasn't quite done contributing to the work force. He helped out at his brother's Union 76 filling station in their hometown of Farmland. However, it wasn't long before Rex landed the "main man" gig as the supervisor of maintenance for the Muncie Public Library system. He worked an additional ten years before "retiring" again.  Rex also returned to farming, which entailed daily trips to the family farm to tend to his cows, a Dalmatian named Walter and many times, to simply help his brother's in the fields of crops that surrounded the old homestead. Farming was a real passion of his. He loved the simple, country life of "retirement"...driving tractors, tending livestock, bossing the "hired hands" (usually nephews) during baling season, and visiting casinos...yes, he loved to gamble and went weekly, usually enticing one of his siblings or daughters with $20 in gas money to chauffer him over to Hoosier Park in Anderson.  He was able to play his favorite, one-armed bandits right up until 3 weeks before his passing. Rex found his kids, brothers, sisters and several, special nephews, among the ones who were his truest friends, right alongside his 85th Bomb Squadron, brother and awesome friend, "Big Al" Miller and his sweet wife, Johanna. 

He and his second wife, Ilena, married in 1984 and bought their own piece of Heaven, "The Big House", a farm in Parker City, where Ilena happily spent living the rest of her life. Sadly, Rex said goodbye to his loving wife, of 29 years, in December 2013.

On the 19th of March, 2018, after 87 years of learning, setbacks, world traveling, grand adventures, determination, courage, and grace, Rex, aka "Tex", died peacefully and with great dignity.  At the last he was surrounded in both the laughter and tears of his family.  Everyone should have the opportunity to die so well & on their own terms.

In case you haven't noticed, Rex loved giving out nicknames, so if he ever gave you one such as "Ace", "Pea-dad", or even "The Little Girl with fat knees" then you were a special person to him. He will always be remembered for his larger than life sense of humor, jokester personality, ability to never meet a stranger & uncanny use of nicknames.

Mr. Howell is survived by three daughters: L. Denise Yoder ("Butch"), Kimi Howell-Robinson and Kay C. Bussa (Tom Brauberger); Grandchildren: Sarah Groves (Matt),  Nathan O'Neal (Ashley), Sean Bussa (Alexandra), Gwen Robinson, Seth Bussa (Annlyn Stroud), Regina Rouse & Robin Rouse; 4 Great-Grandchildren: Makenzie Rouse, Daprielle Rouse, Wyatt Lucas & Hadleigh Bussa. Also surviving are 3 brothers, 5 sisters, several nieces, nephews and long-time family friend, Larry Walker.  Also, his devoted cat, Nykee, survives.

Besides his wife, Ilena and his parents, he was preceded in death by his oldest daughter, Pati Ann O'Neal, first born granddaughter, Melissa Ann Williams & 3 brothers: Marvin, Raymond and Hancil Jr. "Junior".

A service to celebrate Rex’s life will be 12:00 p.m. Saturday, March 24, 2018 at Wilson Shook Funeral Home, Thornburg Memorial Chapel of Parker City, IN. Burial will follow Air Force Military Honors in Hopewell Cemetery of Farmland, IN. Family and friends may gather to share and remember from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 23rd and one hour prior to services, at the funeral home. Online condolences may be expressed at

Rather than flowers, Mr. Howell would have preferred donations to any organization dedicated to helping military men & women, past or present. The Indy Honor Flight ( is one organization that Mr. Howell personally experienced, and thoroughly treasured, prior to his passing. Other suggested organizations will be provided at services. Or simply, the next time you see anyone struggling with a heavy load, stop, smile, lend them a hand, and then gently suggest that they “pay it forward.” 


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