Sunday, November 9, 2003

Ky.'s oldest veteran, 102, still devoted to service

By Ellen R. Stapleton
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - It's been 80 years since Robley Rex served in the military, but he still lives like a man on a mission.

The 102-year-old is Kentucky's oldest known veteran, according to the state Department of Veterans Affairs, and he spends his days at the VA Medical Center in Louisville.

But he's not a frequent patient - he's a dedicated volunteer.

Rex entered the Army just after World War I. Although he never saw combat, he said he spent time in France and Germany around 1919. He was discharged in 1922.

What's more impressive about the man is his service after leaving the military.

On a typical Friday morning, Rex arrives at the medical center in his white shirt and trousers. He still wears his wedding ring, even though his wife died more than a decade ago. Not much can wipe the smile off his face.

The hospital is a big place, but Rex navigates his territory with ease. Pushing a walker in front of him, he quickly shuffles to an elevator to begin his volunteer rounds. He's been using the walker since breaking his hip a few years ago.

Since 1986 he has logged nearly 12,400 volunteer hours, said Mary Jane Crowder, in charge of volunteers.

After leaving the Army, the Hopkinsville native had a full career as a postal worker in Louisville. Rex still lives in a suburban home.

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