Rex R. Benson passed away on Wednesday June 15th at Good Samaritan Moscow Village. He was 91. Rex was born on April 24, 1925 to Henry W. and Lena P. Benson in the Onaway home that he lived in most of his life. The master bedroom was his birthplace. He started public school at the Onaway Grade School on the Northeast side of town. He later graduated from Potlatch High School in 1943. He worked for the Washington, Idaho and Montana railway a short time before he enlisted in the US army in 1945 and served in the 138th Engineer Combat Battalion in Lansburg An Lech, Germany until he was discharged in January of 1947.
Rex had his own orchestra and did lead vocals and played the violin for many local dances many of which were at the old “Round Hall” near the Palouse River east of Kennedy Ford Grange and over the Palouse River Bridge on Highway 95.
He met Minnie Bishop of Plummer, Idaho and they were married on June 27, 1948 in Plummer, Idaho. They made their home in Onaway, Idaho for 60 + years. Rex continued to work for the Washington, Idaho and Montana Railroad as a Master Mechanic for most of his life. The steam locomotive in the Potlatch Scenic 6 Park was the first railroad locomotive that Rex ever ran. Through several sales and mergers, he ended up for the last three years of his railroad career in Spokane working for the Burlington Northern Railroad at the Hillyard Rail Yard as a Mechanical Shop Forman. During that time, they would live in Spokane during the week and commute home to Onaway during the weekends.
Rex and Minnie had two children, Richard Benson (wife Marsha)of Moscow, and Cindy Zoellner of Lake Oswego, Oregon who lost her battle with cancer in 1998. They have five grandchildren, Nichole Hempel of Daytona Beach, Scott Benson of Columbia, Missouri, Avery Zoellner, Hailey Zoellner, and Brin Zoellner in several western states. Two great grandchildren, Gage Benson of Columbia, Missouri, and Taylor Hempel of Daytona Beach. Rex is also survived by several nieces and nephews. His wife Minnie, of 67 years preceded him in death only 30 days earlier on May 16, 2016.
Rex was an active member of many organizations including:
Potlatch Masonic Lodge #66 AF & AM, Calam Shrine Temple of Lewiston
Order of Eastern Star #48 Potlatch, Idaho Life Member 65 years
Order of Eastern Star Grand Chapter of Idaho and served as Worthy Grand Patron in 1974, 1975
White Pine Order of Amaranth Moscow, Idaho
Idaho Old Time Fiddlers, Princeton Grange, Mayor of Onaway, Idaho several times
He enjoyed working on his home and yard in Onaway and woodworking metal fabrication, gunsmithing, and working with anything mechanical in nature. Many good camping trips were enjoyed on the St. Joe and Palouse Rivers with family and friends. Lots of good campfire breakfast, dinners, and conversations. We even had one night with a Scottish jig that resulted in a pulled leg muscle with a trip to the doctor, but left his sense of humor intact. Did not try that one again and settled for the less risky moves. We always enjoyed going out but dreaded coming home because of the fun the Idaho outdoors provided.
Cremation has occurred and memorial services are pending, we are working on a joint service for Rex and Minnie that will be announced at a later date.