Mr. Rex, as we have all come to know him, was born as Rex Eudene Harral. He was born to James Leonard and Ina Ada Johnson Harral in Wilburn, Arkansas on March 29, 1919. He departed this life on Sunday, May 19, 2013. He is survived by his son, Dickie Harral and his wife, Ruth, of Mt. Vernon; daughter, Joyce Martin of Wilburn; sister, Reta Barras of California. He also leaves behind five grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, eight great-great-grandchildren, and a host of friends and other relatives.
Mr. Rex spent all but six of his birthdays in the Wilburn community. He attended both churches in Wilburn, was always a supporter of all civic organizations, served many years on the Wilburn School Board, and was the last living member of the original board of trustees for the Magness Cemetery. He was also a charter member of the Cleburne County Historical Society and served as one of the board members of the Society for many years. He founded the Ozark Foothills Wood Carver’s Club, was charter member of the Arkansas Craft Guild, and was given lifetime membership to this Guild as a result of his dedicated service on the Guild’s behalf.
He was one of Wilburn’s most versatile craftsmen and the last of the “old” blacksmiths in Arkansas. He was known across the nation as a tool maker and he invented several tools for the woodcarving trade as well as some blacksmithing tools and wrote several articles for the periodical entitled “The Blacksmith’s Gazette”. He also wrote numerous articles for other wood carving journals, farm journals concerning farm mechanics, and perhaps he is most famous for the articles he has written for the Sun Times out of Heber Springs. Many have enjoyed these articles that have covered subjects from his childhood and traditions of that time and the customs of pioneer days. Classed as the last of the pioneers, he settled in the wood, built his home, and in his words, “hewed out his farm from the wilderness.”
Mr. Rex loved his neighbors and was always concerned about their welfare. He was always ready to help a neighbor in need and especially loved to help school children. The young people of the community will never know what joy it gave him to share his trade with them and watch them as they learned to carve a boot or a bunny out of a piece of wood he had brought them. Many times he brought them cookies and subscribed to magazines which he brought to the school in order to offer interesting reading materials to the children. He also made sure those achieving high standards in art classes received special awards and donated many hand crafted bowls, candle holders, and vases for that purpose – and that was his idea and not something that was asked of him. He was always one of the first to come forward when it came to the education of the children of the community.
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Mr. Rex was a veteran of World War II. He dearly loved the outdoors and was an avid coon hunter as long as his health permitted. He attended national coon hunter’s conventions in Ohio for many years and wrote regional coon hunter’s news for “Coonhound Magazine” for quite a few years as well as several hunting stories.
It will break our hearts to run down Tyler Road, up Mr. Rex’s driveway, and into his workshop and not find our dear friend. Many children will miss his loving instructions on carving little bunnies and boots, we will miss the wonderful stories of how life used to be, his warm pat-on-the-back, and his ever-famous, “I believe that’s beginning to look like a boot, now.” However, Heaven has gained a very talented, hard-working angel devoted to the service of his Lord and Savior……………and I hope the Good Lord sees fit to not only provide him with a new body but also a workshop.
Funeral services were held on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Please visit Rex’s online obituary at www.heberspringsfuneralhome.com.