Rex D. Johnson

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.

Messages & Condolences

From Carlton Hamm...

Great man , is all I can say ! Growing up and playing ball with his son , he was always positive and so friendly . He always showed great respect for my mother , who grew up with him in Lawrence. Great man ! Rest in Peace Sir 🙏🏾 💙

From Late Husband James abd his wife Everson...

Rex Johnson’ was great friend may he angle around him. We Our are sorrry. For your loss.

From Mike Malone...

Rex’s mantra was “I’m just an old country boy.” He was that and so much more. His down-to-earth, humble style along with his keen sense of “it just doesn’t sound right” were used effectively to get to the truth, whether it was a murder investigation or to play a trick on one of his friends. He is one of the most memorable people I ever had the pleasure of knowing. To all of his family, I am so sorry for your loss. Rex will always be remembered as a good sheriff and a good person.

From Denise Coleman Mead...

My Dad told me if you ever need help call Rex. I never called him, but I was questioned by him once. He was like a father to me. He didn’t have to be harsh or mean. You just had a respect for him.
He had a wonderful smile.
Dad and you can visit .
RIP Daughter of Bob Coleman

From Jerry & Joyce Cromwell...

So very sorry for your loss! Rex was the best! He will truly be missed

From Gary Bennett...

This week we lost a great man in Rex Johnson, I just came from Rex’s funeral and it brought a smile to my face when Rex’s grandson Colton was sharing his remembrances of his grandfather and he said Rex’s rule number one was always buy a
Ford. Having worked at the local Ford dealership in Lawrence for nearly 40 years, I consider Rex a great customer and friend. I will miss him a lot, he was a great man.

From Isaiah Eberhart...

It saddens me deeply to hear about Rex today. He was a great man and was always there if you needed something. Rex and Shirley were two of my favorite people growing up. And I liked to stop by when I would be going out to Clinton just to say hi. Thoughts and prayers go out to the whole family. I know my Dad Has welcomed him home and they are getting back to telling stories. Love you guys!

From Blaylock Family...

So sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Johnson family.

Phyllis, Sheryl, Russ, Jamie and Lori Blaylock

From Greg & Kim Neis...

Rex hired Kim to be part of the new crew of correction officers to open 111 East 11th, the LEC. Greg was given the opportunity to join the Sheriffs Aux, giving both of us the opportunity to experience law enforcement. Rex was a great sheriff. He will be missed.

From Dennis Thome...

Allen, Dale and family. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Your dad’s smiling face will be missed at community events. Rex to me was a legendary, almost Matt Dillon like figure. He made me feel safe as a child growing up in Douglas County. The kind of guy you thought would always be their. His legacy is and always will be. Peace to you through all the great memories. RIP Rex!

From John Renick...

Allen & Robin, so sorry to hear of your loss. You 2 did a wonderful job of taking good care of Rex during his hard times.

John & Helen Renick

From Kitty Glass...

I’m so sorry for your loss. Rex was a wonderful person and a good friend. I loved the twinkle in his eyes. He was a dear friend to my late husband, Michael Glass and my late father in law Travis Glass. He will be missed by so many. May he rest in peace.

From Bruce Banning...

It is hard to think of Rex without thinking of Dick Stanwick , the two of them kept the county safe ( the old school way) ; Rex gave me my first job , i will always remember him for trusting me .Thank you! He will always be a person to look up to.

From Carl Heinrich...

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the family. Rex was such a great leader of Lawrence for so many years. Those that were blessed to have met him were very lucky and will always have a place in their hearts for the good of others. Just the way he did.

From Jim n Ginny O’Connell...

Deepest sympathy to the Johnson family. Rex was truly one of a kind. May he Rest in Peace!

From Caroline Flory...

Rex was a longtime, true friend. His friendship with Raymond and I began when we were classmates at Liberty Memorial High School. We all graduated in 1950. Rex was best man at our wedding and Raymond was best man at his.
I cherish memories of happy times with Rex and Shirley through the years. I send my love to all the family.

From Phil Baker...

I am so sorry to hear that Uncle Rex has passed away. I have many fond memories of visiting Uncle Rex and Shirley and his family at the jail across from the park in Lawrence. He was always so kind and funny.

From Kim Murphree...

My deepest condolences to the Rex Johnson family. He was a dear friend of my father Mike Murphree and was so very good to all of us when dad passed. I still have my dad’s old wallet with the “Special Deputy” badge and card that Rex signed. I treasure it. He was an ally and strength to the citizens of Douglas County, and should be remembered with great respect and honor. What an amazing legacy he leaves for all of us as citizens, and especially those in law enforcement. I know the angels are singing his welcome. May God bless all who knew and loved Rex Johnson.

From Carolyn and John Kirby...

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, sorry for your loss.

From Joni Lawrence...

Deepest sympathies to the Johnson family. Rex was truly one of a kind. His love for family was fierce. RIP.

From Debbie Grasser Filkins...

My first time meeting Rex he nicknamed me “Sunshine”. Every time after that (yes even when I accidently poured a half pot of coffee down his back) he called me “Sunshine”. He was a true one of a kind gentleman. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this time. RIP Rex

From Deborah Nye...

My prayers go out to the entire family. I am so blessed that he was apart of my life growing up. I’m an so heartbroken and will miss him deeply. RIP Rex

From Sheila Chanay Majors...

Rex was the sheriff in 1974 when my father Delbert Chanay was killed in a crop dusting crash. Everyone knew my father so the drive to the funeral home from Vinland was lined with wonderful people honoring him. But I will never forget when we turned onto Haskell St Sheriff Johnson stood at attention at the intersection. It made me so proud to know that a Sheriff was honoring my father. Rest in peace Sheriff Rex.

From Cassandra Collins...

Please accept my condolences in the passing of your father. I did not know him personally, but my dearest sister-in-law Susan, has shared stories of him with me. I can tell by the way she spoke of him that he was an amazing man and I know she loved him dearly!!! I pray that you find peace in the love and the sympathy of the all people who loved and cherished your father!!!

From George & Cheryl hunsinger...

The county of Douglas, lost a great man, and the town of Clinton has a big empty spot. All my child and teenage life he was our sheriff, and I knew no different, until he retired. not to many years ago I sat some where with him and some of his old buddies and listened to some of his old sheriff stories. I could have sat there all day and listened. He will be missed many, and remembered by all. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

From J D Baker...

To the Johnson Family. I am sorry to hear about the passing of Uncle Rex. He was kindness, thoughtful, and giving man I ever knew. He was loved by so many. The world has truly lost a beautiful sole, but Heaven has gained an amazing angel.

From Lori foos...

He was a very good friend of our family… he will truly be missed

From Clenece Hills...

Douglas County has lost one of its finest citizens. Rex Johnson was a gentleman and a gentle man. I appreciate his many kindnesses to me through the years as we worked on community events together.

From Jim & Jody Woods...

Allan, Dale Susan, Dad started out being my boss in the mid 1960s, when I left in 1970 he became a close friend, After he was a friend, ,we shared a lot of laughs about my tenure as his deputy. Some good, some not so good. We both survived. He was a good man. We both admired him. J&J

From George L. Catt...

Rex called me “country boy” from our first meeting in 1963. He was the Undersheriff and I was a cub reporter at the Lawrence Journal-World. He was a great public servant, dedicated family man and a staunch friend.

From Linda Grover Marshall...

This man was the exception to the police force, going out of his way daily to save lives & make Lawrence a better place.

From Debbie Mills Shafer...

Allen Susan and Dale and families
So sorry to hear about Rex he was quite a guy always had a smile and he would do anything for you if u needed help. He had a big heart. God received a wonderful angel. Your families are in our hearts and prayers.

From Shirley Shirk Anderson...

Rex Johnson was a great Sheriff and a wonderful friend to the residents of Douglas County. My prayers and sympathy to his family. My family admired and respected this amazing man. RIP Rex!

From Steve and Colleen Butell...

So sorry for your loss, in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless

From Betsy (Lienhard) Scott...

My thoughts and prayers for the Johnson family. He is now with David again and that brings comfort. Rex was the best and I will forever feel his giant hugs and reassuring smile. He was a pillar in Lawrence and will be greatly missed.

From Lee Hoffman, Hayden, ID...

So saddened to learn of Rex’s death. Rex & Shirley were compassionate neighbors while growing up as a youngster in Lawrence. My siblings and the Johnson kids could be found roaming the neighborhood looking for a pickup game to play. I remember campaigning for Rex when he was running for the Douglas County sheriff office. He truly showed his character when he came over to our house to speak with my father after I had an accident in 1968 with our Model A coupe on Stull Rd. Our sincere condolences and prayers are extended to Shirley and their children.

From Matt Montgomery...

RIP my lifelong friend.
You’ll truly be missed.
Prayers for the family.
See you on the other side Rex
Jesus has a new Sherriff

From Randy Gould...

Sheriff Rex Johnson always treated me fairly, justly and humanely. I was sorry to hear that he had passed away.

From Biff Temple...

Sheriff Johnson gave me my first start in law enforcement as a dispatcher in 1970 and later as a deputy. My condolences to his family. He was a true servant to Douglas County. I’m forever great full to him.

From George L. Catt...

Rex called me “country boy” since we first met in 1968. He was undersheriff and I was a cub reporter at the Journal-World. He was a fine public servant and and a valued friend. Condolences to the family.

From Pat O’Toole...

My sincere condolences Allen and Dale to you and your entire family. What an extreme pleasure to have known Rex and your family for so many years! He was a favorite of mine and such a great human being and example for all. We lost a great man. My heart goes out to both of you! RIP Rex!

From Jeff Tryon...

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

From Marjorie (Holladay) and Philip Hoffman...

The passing of Rex is a loss to all our us in Douglas Country. He was truly an amazing man that cared for our town. Will miss seeing him around town. Sympathy is felt all over town.

From tim byers...

AJ and family sorry for your loss I have always had a great deal of respect for your dad!!

From Terry L. Tuckel...

My thanks and condolences to the family of Rex Johnson. He was a friend to all and did our county a great service for many years bu being our Sheriff. For that I and my family are grateful to him and will keep his memory close.

From Jan Emerson...

Our family will miss Uncle Rex very much and we won’t forget all the wonderful times we shared through the years.

From Danny and Becky McMillen...

Remember Rex from his football days at Lawrence High to Douglas County Sherriff to just a great citizen and friend to everyone. Our thoughts are with his family as they go through the final chapter of a life.

From Bryan Wyatt...

Rex was the cornerstone of Lawrence. Great man who helped shape Douglas Co. Condolences to the Johnson family!

From Ray and Marsha Goff...

We celebrate Rex’s long and productive life. Our deepest sympathy to the family.

From R. L. Sweeten, Topeka KS...

Rex hired me as a “fledgling” Dispatcher in 1975 after I left KBI, and worked for DGSO until 1980. I always had the utmost respect for this man. I know he will be deeply missed by many. Sending up prayers of comfort for his family.

From Joyce Tallman...

My thoughts are with
the family .. so many special memories growing up with Johnson family close by…

From Mr. Kim R. Wrench...

Dear Allen and family,

Please know that my thoughts are with you all during this time. I remember your Dad when I lived in Lawrence. Mr. Johnson was a well respected man!

Know that even though death changes things,the one thing it will and can never do is take away the beautiful memories you will always have!

Take care Allen and much Love to you and your Family.

Sincerely,
Mr. Kim R. Wrench

From Rod and Sharl(Unfred) Spillman...

So sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Johnson family.

From Carolyn Dietz Wilson...

Rex was a wonderful man who served our community for many years. My thoughts and prayers will be with the Johnson family.

From Mike & Diana Leming...

Our deepest sympathy to the family! Rex was a good man and people knew it when you first meet him,a solid man, RIP Rex, your memories of you will live on for ever!

From Ken Morris...

To Dale and all the family. Remember the good times and celebrate Rex! A life well lived

From Stanley Hayden...

Rex was my friend sorry to hear that he passed will always remember are visits at the LHS foot ball games

From Richard L. Kvasnicka...

Rex,
Condolences to your family. I worked with Rex as a Trooper in the late 50, and 60s. One last time K31 to Douglas County 114, Farewell my friend until we meet again.

From Bob and Kathy Steele...

Deepest condolences to Rex’s Family. He will be missed by many.

From Mary (Freeman) Willems...

Rex. You were a nice, solid guy. Dad (Glen Freeman) always called you Boo-tee for some reason. I know you were a great friend to him & I enjoyed visiting with you, too! God Bless your family.

From Eric and Judy Smith...

The Johnson family is in our thoughts and prayers. So sorry for your loss.

From Gerry McGuire...

Rex was a good man, who served our community admirably for many years. The lives he touched were many, needless to say. Our sincere condolences to Shirley and the family.

From Sarah Randolph...

I grew up in Lawrence and always felt safe knowing Sheriff Rex Johnson was ‘large and in charge!’ Later in life, I got to know and love him as a friend. Rex, you will be missed by many.

From Pat (Wenger) Roberts...

Rex and Shirley were like second parents to me, I rented a room from them at the age of 17 and Rex always said he raised me. He will be missed by many, as he never met a stranger during his many years in law enforcement. Prayers to all the family.

From Karen Hodson-Karashin...

Uncle Rex. I will miss his big hugs. Alway so sweet. Smiling and caring. I’m so sorry cousins. We love you.

From Gardner...

Dale and the Johnson family, sorry to hear of your loss. Hang on to the many years of good memories. Godspeed

From Mike McGrew...

Rex was such a solid man and great example for all of us growing up in Lawrence. May he Rest In Peace.

From Sue Davis McDaniel...

So deeply sorry to hear this. My deepest sympathy, hugs, and prayers to all.

From Wanda Samuels...

So sorry for your loss! Rex was a good friend and he will be missed by many!

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