June 9, 1935 – October 2, 2022
The Nebraska Nation lost a pillar of our community, Rex Eugene Ekwall, on October 2, 2022. Rex excelled on the basketball court and baseball field, playing for his high school, the University of Nebraska, and his country. Rex served honorably for the Army on the All-Army and All-Service teams, playing baseball and basketball for Ft. Sill in Oklahoma. In his last year in the Army, Rex coached the All-Army Basketball Team. During Rex’s time at Nebraska, he set the school record in basketball for career rebounding average, collecting 679 in 65 games for a 10.4 per-game average. Rex still holds this record today. In 1960, he played in the Olympic Trials in Denver, CO competing in basketball.
Rex was an astute businessman and esteemed mentor to many, guiding others to have as much success as he worked hard to achieve. Rex spent his early career traveling for work and co-founded the Clugston-Ekwall Oil Company in 1963, later named Rite Way Oil & Gas Co. when he became the sole owner in 1978. He owned and supplied over 40 convenience stores across Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. Part of Rex’s business was providing many of his competitors (friends) with fuel, such as Kwik Shop and Gas N Shop. Rex was also a successful business and property investor. Rex valued honesty and integrity and lived his beliefs freely and sincerely, helping any professional peer in need. Rex worked collaboratively with others in his trade and would always take the time to meet with anyone seeking professional guidance. Rex ran his businesses the way he lived, with the highest degree of moral excellence.
Rex was a humble philanthropist and was well known for his immense generosity through various charitable programs. He was active in the Nebraska Teammates Program, Faith Westwood United Methodist Church, Rotary Club, and Lions Club, and was the second founding member of Oak Hills Country Club. One of his most personal gifts to our community was his work with Angel Flight Central, providing a top-ten record of 166 charitable flights in his decade with the organization. Rex received a plethora of awards in his lifetime for his athletic abilities, professional altruism, and exemplary service to his city, state, and country. Rex received the President’s Award for outstanding personal contribution to Air Lifeline and the Golden Eagle Society Certificate for Angel Flight Center. Rex was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame, Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame, and is the second winner of Nebraska’s Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Alumni Award, given to a former player and Hall of Fame member who has been a positive force in the state and local community after his playing career.
Above all, Rex was a steadfast family man. Rex and his wife, Loretta, shared 63 years of wedded bliss. Together, they lived a life of love and laughter. Rex was a proud and doting father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. His family and devotion to God were at the center of his heart. Rex was also a friend to all and developed many meaningful friendships. Many business associates turned into lifelong friends, as Rex always understood the importance of creating genuine connections with anyone he met.
Rex enjoyed horse racing. As an avid horse owner, he worked closely with trainer Don Von Hamel and his sons Donnie and Kelly for over 50 years. Many of those horses would race at Aksarben, Fonner Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas, and most recently at Prairie Meadows in Iowa. Rex also loved watching the KC Royals nightly, staying up to date on the local weather, dining at local restaurants, and reading his Bible every morning. He was an avid golfer, swimmer, and pilot for many years, traveling to several countries and two Olympics. Rex held football season tickets for over sixty years, attended most Husker football games, both home and away, and flew to bowl games. Rex was also a huge supporter of other Husker athletic programs, holding season tickets for basketball, volleyball, and baseball.
Rex is survived by his wife, Loretta; children: Rick and Brinda (Mark); grandchildren: Wesley, Adam, Candice (Greg), Brian, Justin (Justine), and Rodrick; great-grandchild, Parker; stepsister Nancy (John); many beloved friends and family.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Clifford “Swede” and Bessie; stepmother Martha; step-siblings: Donna (Charlie) and Noel (Opal).
Rex will be remembered for his dedication, loyalty, generosity, and impeccable work ethic. Rex spent every day of his life with the goal of making each day just a little bit better. Because Rex never met a stranger, family and friends can take comfort knowing Rex is now reunited with so many of those connections welcoming him to his heavenly home.
VISITATION: Wednesday, October 5th, at Heafy-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler in Omaha from 5:00 to 7:00PM. FUNERAL: Thursday, October 6th, at 10:00AM at Faith Westwood United Methodist Church.
To view the live broadcast of the service, go to www.HeafeyHeafey.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Angel Flight Central.