James Rexroat Thompson

By on December 11, 2008

            James “Rex” Rexroat Thompson, 90, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., formerly of Kaneville, passed away Monday, Oct. 27, 2008.

            Rex was born Feb. 16, 1918, and raised in and near Macomb, Ill. He attended Western Academy High School and went on to earn both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Western Illinois University (Western Normal School).

            While in college, he met Maxine Kernal through a mutual friend. They married on Dec. 27, 1941. Both were school teachers at the time, but Maxine had to quit her job because married women were not allowed to teach in that part of Illinois in 1941. Rex taught and coached at Pleasant Plains, Ill., until 1946.

            In the fall of 1946, Rex and Maxine moved to Kaneville, where they put down roots that would last many years. Rex was both teacher and coach at Kaneville High School. After Kaneville High School closed in the mid-1950s, Rex served as principal of Kaneville Grade School, as well as social studies teacher and basketball coach for sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

            As the area grew, the Kaneland School District was formed, and when Kaneland Junior/Senior High School opened in 1958, Rex returned to full-time high school teaching. He taught American history, economics and civics until the fall of 1962, when he moved on to St. Charles High School. He taught there until both he and Maxine retired in 1978 to spend part of each winter in Boynton Beach, Fla., where they had purchased a co-op along with a group of longtime friends from Macomb.

            The young boys he coached at Kaneville High School and grade school still remember Rex fondly. Though decades have passed, play-by-play accounts of the life and times of “Coach Thompson” still fill the room whenever teammates gather. 

            Rex and Maxine raised their family in Kaneville and lived there until Maxine died in 1980. During their years there, they were members of the Kaneville United Methodist Church. Rex was active in the Blackberry Masonic Lodge No. 359 AF&AM in Elburn, and both were active members of Eastern Star.

            Following Maxine’s passing on Dec. 18, 1980, Rex continued to spend winters in Florida. He moved from the east coast to Venice, Fla., in 1988. In 1990, he sold his house in Kaneville and changed from a snowbird to a full-time Floridian. There he enjoyed golf, cards and kept a faithful eye on the Chicago Cubs, along with a number of other college and professional teams. He continued to play golf and make his home in Florida until after he suffered a stroke in the spring of 2007, and moved to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to live in an independent living facility near his daughter, Ann.

            He is survived by two daughters, Ann Ramos of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Sue (Chuck) Tudor-Norris  of Denver, Colo.; two grandchildren, Gregory (Renee Garrels) Tudor of Portland, Ore., and Alexandra Tudor of Fort Collins, Colo.; one sister-in-law, Margaret Brock of Brookfield, Ill., and one brother-in-law, Roy Kernal of Macomb, Ill.; one niece, Luan Barry of Macomb, Ill.; a special friend and neighbor, Dode Bodnar of Venice, Fla., and a “family” of good friends near and far.

            He was preceded in death by his wife, Maxine; his parents, James Rexroat and Edith (Senn) Thompson; one sister, Helen Walker, and one brother, Keith Thompson.

            A memorial visitation and a celebration of Rex’s life will be held Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, Ill. Friends may call from 10 a.m. until noon. A luncheon will follow at the Kaneville United Methodist Church.

            A memorial has been established in Rex’s name to benefit the Kaneland Holiday Spirit program for needy families. Memorials checks may be made to Kaneland Holiday Spirit and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119.    Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through his obituary at www.conleycare.com. For information, call (630) 365-6414 or 1-800-8-CONLEY.