Rex Edward Benifield passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at the Lourdes hospital at the age of 77.
Rex was born at home on August 26, 1935, to Carl and Nellie Mae Cook Benifield in Melber, Ky., where he lived most of his life. He graduated from Melber High School in 1953 where he played basketball on a dirt court for the Melber Hawks. After graduating, Rex went to work for the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad. He worked for the railroad for over 33 years, mostly as a car man.
Rex devoted his life to the betterment of his community, county and state. Rex was active in county and state politics and served as the Graves County Commissioner for 16 years. In 1986, he moved to the Frankfort area and began a second career for the state at the Department of Transportation. Rex retired from the state and he and his wife Peggy moved back to Graves County where he served the Melber community as an active member of the volunteer fire department and the Melber Civic Club. Rex, a Kentucky Colonel, was awarded many community service awards in his life including his most recent honor as being named Graves County Democrat of the Year in 2012.
Not only a civic leader, Rex always had a strong commitment to his family. Rex dearly loved his family and began the Benifield family reunion, a 33-year long tradition. Rex was the devoted husband of the former Peggy Lawson. He was the cherished father of Bruce Benifield (Christy), Renee Mabry (Randy), and Rhonda Benifield, all of Melber. He was the loving stepfather of Vikki Ellington (Ed), East Sparta, Ohio, and Valerie Stiles (Dwayne) of Melber. His four grandchildren were the light of his life. They include Ryan Mabry (Gloria) of Fort Benning, Georgia, Reece Mabry (Lauren) of Nashville, Tennessee, Bryce Benifield and Deann McClure, both of Melber. He had six stepgrandchildren, Kari Paschall (Tommy), Atoshia Baldwin (Jason), Kory Stiles, all of Melber, Ben Ellington (Ann), Josh Ellington (Kim), Troy Ellington (Joanna), all of East Sparta, Ohio. He had two great-granddaughters and 13 stepgreat-grandchildren. Rex was the beloved brother of Janice Ford (Donalee) of Boaz. He is also survived by his nieces, Carla Whitis (Mark) and Lee Ann Morse (David), all of Boaz.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Nellie Mae Benifield; one daughter, Debra Jean Benifield; and one grandson, James Michael McClure; along with many beloved aunts, uncles and cousins.
Rex was a lifelong member of the Melber Church of Christ. He loved his church family as much as his physical family. His devotion and uplifting nature strengthened the family that worships at Melber. In turn, the support of the church during his illness encouraged and strengthened him. Just three weeks ago, Rex happily celebrated his 77th birthday with a surprise party given by the congregation, family and friends.
Rex’s legacy is one of generosity and love for his friends, family and church. It was often said that Rex never met a stranger and he treated everyone like his very best friend. His love for people was evidenced in his warm manner and outgoing personality. His greatest enjoyment was spending time with family and friends.
Visitation will be held Saturday after 5 p.m. at Brown Funeral in Mayfield. Visitation on Sunday will be at the Melber Church of Christ at noon, with the funeral services at 2 p.m., officiated by David Phillips.
In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to the three organizations that were dearest to his heart, the Hispanic ministry in care of Seven Oaks Church of Christ in Mayfield, Ky.; New Pathways for Children in Melber, Ky.; or the Melber Fire Department in Melber, Ky.