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Rex Nelon
Some people come into our lives and quickly go.

Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.
 

    Rex was just that kind of person.To know Rex Nelon was to admire and respect him.

    Many tributes have been written about him, and they will tell you about the singer; and we would have to agree, there was no better, ever.

    Some may mention that he was the consummate quartet man and quartet manager, and they would also be right.

    Some may even dig deep enough to tell you how much he loved his family, both his "real" and "adopted" families (the groups and people he sang with) and they would be getting a little closer to his true nature.

    But only a fortunate few will get to the real Rex Nelon, because he was all the above and so much more.

    On the morning when I was told the sad news, I had to be quiet for a long moment to keep from crying. Rex was a very special part of my earthly experience, and the shock of him being gone hurts very deeply. I have lost a member of my "family." If you are a born again Christian, you have, too. I KNOW where Rex is, and you can rest assured, the bass section sounds better now.

    How can we be so sure?

    I was fortunate enough to be the LeFevre's lead singer when Rex got saved. Rex had purchased the group just before he hired me, so he was my boss. It was the 3rd week of January, 1976; I had been with the group for a few years; and we were singing for a week long revival at The People's Church in Brampton, Ontario, Canada; just outside Toronto. Chuck Milhuff was the guest evangelist.

    It was either our third or fourth night there, and as was our custom, the ladies were in the hotel, and the men were sleeping on the bus. Rex was restless, and he went inside the hotel and was gone for a couple of hours. When he came back out, he was grinning from ear to ear, and just couldn't hold it in. He told us that Chuck had led him to Christ! Needless to say, we didn't get a lot of sleep that night, but that was of little consequence. The next night we "sang the house down."

    Admittedly, there was some surprise when Rex got saved. All we had seen out of him was that he "walked" a very good daily life; but Rex had realized  that there was more to salvation than that. From that day forward his life showed the change. He truly became a man who walked with God.(Jesus can even save lost gospel singers. Wow, what a concept!")

    To give a more complete picture of Rex, it has to be added that Rex was also a serious practical joker. (Actually, that is an understatement; he was the best.) The incident that quickly comes to mind happened when we singing in the Greensboro, NC auditorium on one of the old "all-night" sings.

    We had worked the record table before the program, the audience had gone in, and Rex and I were restocking the racks. (Back then, in the days of 33 1/3 rpm records, all the groups carried tall metal racks to display the albums, and we stood on the actual fiberboard record storage cases to be able to reach over the racks.)

   A lady brought a squalling child to the lobby, and proceeded to "apply" a little correction. The boy just yelled louder! Rex seized the opportunity, ducked down behind the racks, grinned real big at me, turned and yelled, "Shut up, kid." The woman spun around quickly, saw me standing behind the rack with no one else in sight, gave me a rough look, and stormed back into the auditorium. Somehow, Rex held the laughter in just until she had gone through the doors, and then he exploded!

   Oh, how I'm (no, make that we're) going to miss that grin and that laugh.

   There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were fortunate enough to get to know the real Rex who are remembering similar stories.


   Thankfully, I am one of them.
   The world lost a great gospel singer.
   I lost a great friend . . .but only for a while!
   Keep a lookout, Rex. Soon, I will meet you on that beautiful shore.

  
 Ron Hutchins     January 24, 2000
 

Rex Nelon ~ Obituary

   Rex Nelon suffered a heart attack and died in his hotel room in London, England on Sunday, January 23rd at 11:00PM EST. His wife, Judy was with him, as they and other Southern Gospel Music performers were on a Gaither Tour, with performances in Ireland and England. He was 68, after just having a birthday on January 19th and had no previous history with heart problems.

    He is survived by his mother, Marietta Nelon of Asheville, NC;   a sister Judy Hyler; his wife, Judy Nelon of Nashville, TN; one daughter, Kelly Nelon, of Marietta GA; one son, Mr. and Mrs. Todd (Rhonda) Nelon, of Powder Springs, GA; and five grandchildren, Amber and Autumn Thompson, and Jordan, Ashley, and Shelby Nelon of Georgia.

    Rex was one of the most respected men in Southern Gospel Music, and his many years of service as Christian, a performer, a businessman, and an industry leader greatly paved the way for Southern Gospel Music that we enjoy today. To millions he was a great and beloved bass singer. To his late wife, Shirley, and to Judy, he was a great husband. To his children, Kelly and Todd, he was a great father, and to his grandchildren, he was a great grandparent. To all who came to came to know him more closely, he was well loved and and admired and he was everyone's friend.

        Rex grew up in Asheville, NC, and in the early days sang with local groups of the day. His professional career began in the 1950's with the Homeland Harmony Quartet, and then the joined The LeFevres, one of the oldest and most respected groups in our business. He was the bass singer for The LeFevres for some twenty years, and eventually bought and managed the group.

    With the gradual passing and retirement of the LeFevre names, Rex changed the name to The Rex Nelon Singers, which later evolved to The Nelons. For over two decades we have enjoyed the wonderful music of Rex Nelon and The Nelons, and he continued to always surrounded himself with wonderful discovered talents.

    He retired from The Nelons a short time back, but continued to travel regularly with the Bill Gaither's Homecoming Friends concerts. He was heavily involved in publishing, and owned LeFevre-Sing Music, Rex Nelon Music, Goss Brothers Music, Stoker Music, and several other companies, collectively holding thousands of copyrighted songs. He was a board member for The National Quartet Convention and was involved in many other aspects of the music industry. He was also a business partner with Harold Timmons in Memory Lane Gospel.

    While we do not understand, and we all are at an earthly loss here today, another seat has been filled in the great Heavenly Choir. Rex has assembled with R. W. Blackwood, Bill Lyles, J. D. Sumner, Brock Speer, D. P. "Dad" Carter, Rose Carter Karnes, "Mom" and "Dad" Speer, Urias and Alphus LeFevre, Frank Stamps, Roy Carter, Herman Harper, Smitty Gatlin, Brock Speer, Rusty Goodman, Denver Crumpler, Rosie Rozell, "Big Chief" James Wetherington, Earl Weatherford, Connor Hall, and all of the other wonderful singers and musicians who have already gone home that we loved here here on earth so much. They are ready and waiting for us to join them.

 

 

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