Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who was Rex Stewart?

April 12, 2007

Rex Stewart played an important part in Lansing's history. He helped unite Lansing as a strong community through his contagious enthusiasm while broadcasting Lansing High School basketball games on KCLO, the local radio station.

Rex was comfortable behind a microphone. Due to the popularity of the teams in 1949 and 1950, Lansing High School's gym was not big enough to fit everyone in, so it was great to be able to listen to the games on the radio.

Long Bell Lumber's manager, Lee Lohman, was one of the sponsors that made the new technology possible. Some games were broadcast directly, but most were recorded on a wire recorder and played the following day. If I remember correctly, the station did not broadcast in the evenings.

Rex wrote and delivered his own commercials during the play-by-play of the games. He also did interviews of local people during half times or time outs. That added a lot to the excitement of the games.

From 1950 to 1959, many people realized it was time to wake up and make Lansing the strong community that it is today. This basketball team, along with Rex and his brother Jack, who later became a Lansing mayor, the Fire Department, the Lions Club and many others, started pulling together to make it work.

Rex was born May 3, 1924, in Lansing and first lived on Second Street and later on Kay Street. Rex and his siblings loved putting on skits for their family entertainment. During high school, he was in many outstanding one act plays for the drama teacher Frank Graham. Rex graduated from LHS in 1942 and in September he joined the Army Air Corps. He had a long and distinguished career with the Federal Aviation Administration. He married his high school sweetheart, Ann Smith.

In those days everyone had a nickname. Rex was GaGa and his best friends were J.T., Peanuts, and Lou, and they fished a lot in the Missouri River. Rex's dog was named Champion after Gene Autry's horse. Gene Autry was Rex's boyhood idol.

Rex died March 28, 2007 at his Lake Havasu City, Ariz., home. So long GaGa, it was a pleasure knowing you.

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