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Last World War One Era Veteran Dies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A 108th birthday celebration that had been planned next month for a veteran who joined the Army just after World War I will instead be an occasion to remember him.

Robley Henry Rex died Tuesday at the Veterans Affairs Medical
Center in Louisville, just four days short of his birthday.

He was still volunteering three days a week when he was 105 and had logged more than 14,000 volunteer hours.

Rex was presented with the Kentucky Governor's Award for Outstanding Service at his 107th birthday party last May. He was named National Volunteer of the Year in 2005 by the national Veterans of Foreign Wars organization.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell noted the death during a speech Wednesday in Washington.

"Robley was not only the Bluegrass State's pre-eminent veteran, he was also its pre-eminent volunteer on behalf of veterans," McConnell said.

The Kentucky senator said a birthday celebration planned next month at the VA hospital will instead be "an opportunity to remember how much Robley meant to us."

Rex was born in 1901 in Hopkinsville and enlisted in the Army when he was 18, just after World War I. He spent time in France and Germany and was discharged in 1922.

His wife, the former Gracie Bivins, died in 1992 at age 91.

Retired Brig. Gen. Les Beavers, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs from 1998 until December, described
Rex to The Courier-Journal a few years ago as "delightful, bubbly and an energetic, fun guy to be around."

Mary Jane Crowder, director of volunteer services at the VA center on Zorn Avenue, told The Courier-Journal that Rex often talked or prayed with patients.

"He was more inspiration to them than anything else," she said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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