Funeral services for Rex Dean Johnson, 88, Clinton, will be at 10 am Friday at River City Church, with Rev. Patrick Yancey and Chaplain Ron Nadvornik officiating. The service will be livestreamed on the Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home Facebook page. Burial will follow in Clinton Cemetery. Rex died Friday, June 25, 2021, at his home.
He was born July 21, 1932, in Lawrence, the son of Rex Lee and Lillian Marie Petefish Johnson. He graduated from Liberty Memorial High School, where he played football for Nanny Duver. He was voted the ‘best team player.’ He received college football offers from McPherson, Ottawa, and Baker before deciding to play for Chalmer Woodard at McPherson.
Rex worked in the parts department of Ship Winter Chevrolet, and then began driving a milk route for Flory Dairy. In 1953, Travis Glass offered him a job as a Douglas County deputy sheriff. He left there to work for the City of Lawrence water department. He returned to the sheriff’s department and was appointed undersheriff by Sheriff Fred Broeker. He ran for sheriff on the republican ticket in 1964 and won. He would go on to win numerous elections until retiring as Douglas County Sheriff in 1989. He stated that he had never been treated better than by the citizens of Douglas County and Lawrence. The sheriff’s office was his extended family. Douglas County and the City of Lawrence were in good hands under the very capable leadership of Sheriff Rex Johnson and Police Chief Dick Stanwix. After his retirement, he worked for the USD 497 transportation department in safety, and later for N.R. Hamm Construction as security. He was a longtime member of Clinton Presbyterian Church.
Rex married Shirley Marie Baker, whom he met when she was working in the jail, on Oct. 31, 1954, in Lawrence. It was ironic that two of the Baker family daughters would later marry men who served as Sheriff of Douglas County – Rex and Bill Hodson. Survivors include two sons, Allen Johnson and wife Robin, Baldwin City, and Dale Johnson and wife Kathy, Lawrence; a daughter, Susan Collins and husband Jason, Savannah, Georgia; seven grandsons, Aaron, Paul, Patrick, Ross, Colton, and Jake Johnson, and Kyle Bulmer; two granddaughters, Robi Murray and Kelly Johnson Mondi; 21 great grandchildren; and many lifelong friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, and two sons, Duane Lee Johnson and David Bruce Johnson.
Friends may call from 9 am to 3 pm Thursday at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 pm Thursday at River City Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to Clinton Presbyterian Church, or VNA, in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS, 66044.