Rex Nelon Funeral
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January 19, 1932 - January 23, 2000
From Harold Timmons...Memory Lane Gospel
MEMORIAL SERVICES FOR REX NELON
From the attendance at the visitation on Sunday in Franklin, TN, as well as both funeral services held in Nashville, TN on Monday, and Marietta, GA on Tuesday, it is evident that Rex Nelon was well-loved and respected man. Hundreds of friends, family, business associates and acquaintances, group members, and fans from many states were on hand in Nashville and Marietta during the past three days to pay their last respects to Rex Nelon and his family.
The Nashville service was conducted at Christ Church by Rev. Stan Mitchell of the church, and Rev. Amos Dodge (husband of Sue Dodge) from Washington, DC. After the invocation and scripture reading, Bill Gaither, accompanied by Anthony Burger on piano and Kevin Williams on bass, led the congregation and choir in "Victory in Jesus," and from there, the hour and a half service proceeded as a joyous occasion.
The choir included Dottie Rambo, Eva Mae LeFevre, Ann Downing, Sue Dodge, members of the Florida Boys, The Hemphills, Oak Ridge Boys, Gaither Vocal Band, and many others. Former LeFevre member and business associate of Rex Nelon, Jimmy Jones, was featured by the choir on one of Rex's favorite songs, "Child of The King," which Rex had previously sung at Brock Speer's Funeral. Several video clips were shown, which included footage of The LeFevres, The Nelons, the presentation of the SGMA induction of Rex into the SGMA Hall of Fame, and a portion of a recent Gaither rehearsal overseas.
A video clip by The Nelons, featured the song "I'd Do It All Over
Again," written by Jerry Thompson, and this song seems to sum it all up. Quoting from Rex, "Everything I have in this world, I owe to Gospel Music...I never tried very much else, and what I did try, I wasn't very good at. I'm not very good at this, but I'm happy! What more could I ask for? I'd do it all over again. I'd walk on with Jesus ‘till my journey's end. I'd never give up living for Him for what the world's giving. You betcha. I'd do it all over again."
Selections by the choir included "Just A Little While," "The Love Of
God," "What A Meeting," and "O Come, Angel Band." Special memorable tributes were given by Rex's granddaughter, Amber Thompson, Ben Speer, Maurice Templeton, Karen Peck Gooch, and Kelly Nelon. Amber Thompson sang "Amazing Grace" a cappella, and before the second verse, she ad-libbed something like, "This is for you, grand daddy," and Janet Paschal, who began her music career with Rex in The LeFevres, sang "To A Soldier."
Pallbearers were Les Beasley, Bob Cain, Bill Gaither, Jake Hess, Claude Hopper, Jimmy Jones, Maurice LeFevre, Joe Moscheo, Ben Speer, and Maurice Templeton. Honorary Pallbearers included John Barker, Ronnie Brown, Charlie Burke, Mark Fuller, Rick Goodman, Lari Goss, Ken Harding, Clay Harper, Ed Harper, Jeff Harper, Jake Hess Jr., Norman Holland, Bob Johnson, Darrell Johnson, Lynn Keesecker, Johnny Minnick, Tilford Salyer, Don Shumate, and Oneal Terry.
For the most part, attendance at the visitation and service in Marietta, GA was a different crowd. This was held at the Georgia Memorial Park Funeral Home. As the area was "home" to The LeFevres and The Nelons, many friends, former group members, and groups from "yesteryear" were in attendance, including Bob Crews and Charles Key (The Harmoneers), Kenny Gates (The Blue Ridge Quartet), Eddie Wallace and Fred Daniels (The Sunshine Boys). Mike Holcomb and Archie Watkins represented The Inspirations, as did former member and webmaster, Ron Hutchins. Hovie Lister, Eva Mae LeFevre, Maurice LeFevre, Ralph Moore (bus driver for The LeFevres and sometimes The Nelons), Amy Roth (recently married, but I forgot her new last name), and so many others too numerous to mention were in attendance. It was very evident that the small chapel would not hold the crowd.
The service at the Winkenhofer Chapel was very short, approximately thirty minutes. It was standing room only, and the foyer was full as well. After a brief opening by Rev. Todd Holley, the next voice heard was Rex Nelon, as he was featured in The Nelons' recording, "When He Calls My Name." A special tribute was given by Eva Mae LeFevre, who sang with Rex for some twenty years. She had planned for Rex to sing at her funeral. She spoke of the all the good years and wonderful times she had spent with him, and of her continued respect, admiration, and association with him after the singing years they spent together. He had always been there for her when she needed advice, encouragement, and anything through all the years, and that he had always been very good to her.
Paul Lancaster, of The Nelons, sang "Is It Well With My Soul" a cappella, and everyone joined in the final chorus. Service at the
graveside was conducted by Rev. Amos Dodge. He was buried there at the Georgia Memorial Park Cemetery by his first wife, Shirley, who passed away some two years ago.
My acquaintance with Rex Nelon goes back to the late ‘50's. I was only a kid at the time, but he was always nice to me as a kid and fan. In later years, as a member of The Hemphills and The Chuck Wagon Gang, I performed on many programs with him with The LeFevres, The Rex Nelon Singers, and The Nelons. I got to know him more personally down through the years, and learned a lot from him, and I'm very thankful to have had a close association with him. From talking with so many people over the past few days, I am confident that Rex Nelon is indeed the person just as I knew him.
I am sure that the family would covet your prayers for the coming days.
KELLY and TODD NELON
P. O. Box 460
Smyrna, GA 30081
P.O. Box 1067
Brentwood, TN 37024