Rex Larson

Rex Larson

LAKOTA, Iowa – REX LARSON, 74, of Lakota, Iowa, died Friday, August 29, 2014, at the Fairmont Medical Center.

Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Lakota, with Pastor Lynn Noel officiating. Burial will be at the church cemetery with Military Honors by the Lakota American Legion Color Guard.

Visitation will be Monday from 4-7 p.m. at Winter Funeral Home in Buffalo Center.

A brave and noble Marine has passed away and now guards Heaven’s streets of gold.

Rex William Larson was born in Buffalo Center, Iowa, on Aug. 17, 1940, to Bill and Ruth (Barton) Larson. Though Rex started school in Woden, he moved with his family to Lakota when he was 10. He graduated from Lakota in 1958. On January 2, 1959, Rex married Karen Thomsen, sharing 56 years of marriage together.

Though Karen was the love of his life, Rex had another love: the Marines. Rex enlisted shortly after his high school graduation and served 3 years, including 18 months in Okinowa. An expert shooter, Rex was one of the few and one of the proud to be called a Marine, a title that he proudly claimed throughout his life.

After his military life, Rex returned to Lakota and began the life of a farmer. He raised chickens with his father, raised pigs with his sons, and raised sheep with his grandchildren. Of course, he also raised a crop, both in the field and in the garden. Rex also followed the highway, first ferrying motor homes for Winnebago and then trucking for SMX.

The down-to-earth lifestyle, however, wasn’t quite enough for Rex; something called him higher: he longed to be a pilot. In 1968 Rex took his first flying lesson from his best friend and cousin Ronnie Larson, and in 1970 his life as a crop duster began. After purchasing his first spray plane in 1974, Rex flew his white Pawnee with its classic red stripe throughout the Lakota and Estherville areas as well as areas beyond, spraying wheat in North and South Dakota or doing a bug run in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, or Kansas. His love of flying led him to become a flight instructor, a spotter for the petroleum pipeline, and even a helicopter pilot. While in the air, Rex often prayed in the place where he felt closest to God. Finally, in the summer of 2013, Rex retired from Rex’s Spray Service.

Flight, however, was not all about business for Rex. He loved aerobatics, taking lessons with Duane Cole, and buying an aerobatic Decathlon with his good friend Beuford Stohr. Though he participated in air races, his joy was practicing aerobatic maneuvers over the Lakota area, whether a hammerhead, a snap roll, or a quick buzz over the home place. With a tip of his wings, he would greet those watching below.

With flight time over, on many a day and many an early morning, Rex could be found in his favorite Lazy-Boy, drinking a cup of coffee, taking a little nap, or watching television on the only channels that really mattered, ones with history and the Wild West. John Wayne and Pappy Boyington brought out Rex’s best.

But there was something that brought out the best of the best in Rex: his family. With them he took fishing trips to Canada, road trips to New Mexico, Arizona, and the East Coast, and jaunts to the county fair. However, his joy was the visits of the grandchildren, times when he could tell them a story about his past, listen to the tales of their day, give a little advice, or simply sit quietly together until Katie the dog (one of his latest loves) intervened.

Rex was a simple man with simple joys. In fact, the Marine Corps motto – Semper Fi – was Rex’s way of life: always faithful, faithful to country, to his family, and to his God.

Rex is survived by his wife Karen of Lakota and their children, Monty and his wife Karla of Waupaca, Wis., Nick and his wife Dee of Algona, and Amy Kahler and her husband Pat of Lakota. Seven grandchildren also survive: Lindsey Larson of Greenfield, Wis., Mitchell Larson and fianc Caitlin Roberts of Ames, Hayley Larson of Waupaca, Wis., Lana Larson of Algona, Matthew Kahler of Lakota, Nicholas Kahler of Lakota, and Morgan Kahler of Lakota. Rex has one surviving brother, Ross Larson, and his wife Paula of Forest Lake, Minn. Other family members who survive are his in-laws: Marlene and Bob Sheldahl of Albuquerque, NM, Charlene and Garry Spear of Lakota, Joyce and Bill Hensyel of Topeka Kan., and Butch (Richard) and Barb Thomsen of Adel, Iowa. Rex is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Rex was preceded in death by his parents, Bill and Ruth; his in-laws Nick and Edna Thomsen; and his brother-in-law, Larry Thomsen and his wife Lorraine.

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