A Life Lived: Rex Johnson was a people person, sports enthusiast
Rex Johnson was definitely a “people” person. He enjoyed meeting new people, what they had to say, and socializing with friends and having a good conversation and laugh.
“Regardless of where we went, if he seen someone he knew, they were always a good friend,” said his wife, Judy.
Rex, 74, died Feb. 1 after a bout with cancer.
From former workers at TVA to friends at the VFW, Elks Club, National Guard, schoolmates, and breakfast buddies at the Southern Restaurant, all mentioned what a great friend Rex was on the funeral home tribute page.
Rex grew up on Dividing Ridge in Hampton for the most part, but lived other places as well during his growing up years as his father, Eugene Johnson, was a Baptist preacher and had various church assignments. However, he did finish his high school years at Hampton High, where he played football.
After high school, Rex joined the U.S. Navy, and was proud of his military career, which also included 16 years with the Tennessee National Guard. He was also proud of following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, both of whom served in the U.S. Navy as did his brother, Brad, and a nephew, Shaun. During his stint in the Navy, he served aboard the USS Constellation.
Rex served during the Vietnam era, and always remembered coming home to boos and jeers when he and his comrades stepped off the plane. “He never felt Americans understood the Vietnam War nor appreciated the service of Vietnam veterans,” Judy shared.
After his military service, Rex went to work for TVA, serving as a foreman. “He worked out of Knoxville most of the time, and his territory included parts of Kentucky and Alabama as well as an area of Tennessee,” Judy said. “He made many friends on the job.”
Rex was a life-time member of VFW Post No. 2166 and served as Exalted Ruler of Elizabethton Elks Post No. 1847 for six years, and another six years as post treasurer. “He enjoyed his friends at the Elks and VFW and participating in club activities,” his wife said.
In addition to his club activities, Rex almost always had breakfast with friends at the Southern Restaurant.
He was also a big sports enthusiast — car racing, football, basketball, baseball, golf. No matter the sport, he followed it. “When the weekend came, the TV was his. I might as well find something else to do unless I wanted to watch TV with him. He was not one for shopping or going on trips,” Judy said.
“He loved his family — his daughter, Kristen, and a son, Brandon, and his two grandchildren,” his wife shared.
She described Rex as a fun person, who was drawn to activities and places where there were lots of people.
I guess you could say people were Rex Johnson’s bread and butter and his ticket to a good time in life.