Long time resident of Santa Rosa and veteran of the US Navy, Rex Thomas died on Saturday, September 8 joining his sweetheart, "Annie" for eternity. Born in Twin Falls, ID to Reginald Fowler Thomas and Fern Fay Gates Thomas, Rex had an imaginative childhood, making toys from used cigar boxes, setting up sporting events in vacant lots with neighbors, camping in local forests and fishing and hunting with his dad. After graduating from Twin Falls High School he attended the University of Idaho, Southern Branch in Pocatello, ID. Leaving college early to save his family money during the depression, he eventually worked for the Coca Cola Bottling Plant in Twin Falls. Realizing that his lifelong neighbor and his sister's best friend, Anna Mae was the girl of his dreams, he married her and they had two daughters, Mary Ann and Linda Louise. They left Twin Falls for Bend, OR, where he built and managed the Coca Cola Bottling Plant. His career took the family to Santa Maria, CA and then to Santa Rosa, where he managed the plant on Lewis Road. After retirement Rex and Anna Mae had a wonderful time in their trailer, traveling all over the western United States. They loved to stop by a river where they could fish and look for beautiful rocks. Rex would shape and polish pieces of jasper, agate, jade, opal, turquoise and petrified wood to use in jewelry he designed and made of silver. He also loved to oil paint, using pictures taken on their trips as inspiration. A very special brother, father, uncle, grandfather and great grandfather, Rex taught by example how to conduct ourselves in life by being the loving, caring, honorable man he was and to appreciate the beauty in nature and each other. A World War II Navy veteran, he was a shining example of the "Greatest Generation." He was preceded in death by his wife Anna Mae, daughter Linda Louise Martin Becktel, sisters Daisy Dene Jenson and Betty Lou Bartlett and son in law John Rovai. He is survived by his brother Charles W. Thomas of Kennewick, WA, daughter Mary Ann Rovai, grandchildren Vikki Howard (Tom), Anthony Rovai (Denise), Sean Rovai (Shelby), Tony Martin (Michelle) and Mike Martin (Casey), ten great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and so many friends. A memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, September 29 at 10:00 a.m. in Madelyne's Chapel at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Santa Rosa, CA. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to Food for Thought, P.O. Box 1608, Forestville, CA 95436 or fftfoodbank.org.
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Published in the Press Democrat from September 12 to September 13, 2012