Rex E. Carpenter, 80, left this world on Nov. 21, 2020, in Grand Island, surrounded by his family, after battling CCOVID-19 for several weeks.
Given the pandemic, the funeral will be limited to family only.
Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, at Apfel Funeral Home. Masks are required. Family will not be present. Once it is safe to do so, a Celebration of Life will be planned to allow all those who knew him to gather, reminisce and raise a glass to honor Rex. Memorials can be made to JDRF at jdrf.org.
Born on St. Patrick's Day in 1940, in Burwell to Audrey (Sigmund) Carpenter, Rex was the seventh of 10 children. He attended Burwell High School and served our country in the United States Air Force.
He met Jonadyne "Jonni" Allen in Lincoln in 1960, married her on Feb. 4, 1961, and loved her for 60 years. Rex and Jonni raised their three sons and a daughter in a house full of energy and mischief, encouraging them to reach for their dreams and instilling in them a deep sense of community. Above all, Rex loved family.
Rex was a car man from the start. Always a hard worker, he worked long hours to provide for his young family. He started at MacDonald Motors in Lincoln washing cars and working in the shop during the day. He would come home to have dinner with his family and to play with the kids. He would then shower, put on his only suit, and head back to try to sell cars.
Over the next several decades, he worked as salesman and general manager, and became a new car dealer in his own right. He owned several car dealerships including Carpenter Cars where he had the Nissan and Chrysler franchises. Most recently he owned Auto America, which he was proud to operate in partnership with his oldest son, Scott.
For Rex, it was always a priority to give to others - family, friends and strangers. As a strong believer in supporting his community, Rex was generous with his time and money. He served on the Fonner Park board of directors and the Community Chest Board. He was a constant supporter of Christmas Cheer and the Salvation Army.
Many may not have known about Rex's frequent random acts of kindness giving others money, food, housing and vehicles. These were typically provided quietly, often with the recipient not knowing the source.
During their 60 years together, Rex and Jonni traveled the world. He often mused that he had never dreamed he would have been able to have such a full and wonderful life that he was sharing with Jonni. Rex has never met a stranger, he was always quick with a kind word. In addition to his dear friends in Grand Island, he also made several wonderful friends in Palm Desert, Calif., where they wintered for the last 20-plus years.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Rex enjoyed games of skill: gin rummy, black jack, poker, golf and even an occasional game of cornhole. He loved the Huskers and spending time at the Platt Duetsche, Riverside Country Club and Fonner Park.
More than anything, Rex loved being with his ever expanding family. He never missed a birthday party or graduation, and he was most likely to be found with a grandchild on his knee. Sunday mornings were reserved for calls with each of his children. He provided them with unconditional love and support. He was quick with a hug and always their biggest fan. His entire family respected and adored him, and we will all miss him like crazy.
Rex is survived by his wife, Jonni; his children, Scott (Theresa) Carpenter, Michael (Holly) Carpenter, Amie (Victor) Martinez Rawl; grandchildren, Haley (Rob) Bogdasarian, Alexis Carpenter, Ethan (Teagan) Carpenter, Ellie Martinez, Averie Martinez, Beckett Rawl, Simmons Rawl; great-grandson, John Michael Bogdasarian; and siblings, Irene East, Sherri (Ken) Freadhoff, Robert (Kathy) Carpenter, Dennis (Maureen) Carpenter; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his youngest son, Todd Carpenter; his mother; and his siblings, Elayne Gould, Cecil Carpenter, Gene Carpenter, Dion Nissen and Vivian Nixon.
Published by The Grand Island Independent from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27, 2020.