Rex L. Pugmire
May 6, 1944 – June 26, 2014
Salem, Oregon – Rex (70) died June 26, 2014, peacefully, at home, in his own bed, after a long struggle with esophageal cancer (metastasized to the liver). He was born in Flagstaff, AZ, earned a bachelor’s degree at Williams College in Massachusetts (1967), did some initial graduate work at the U of O in Eugene, OR, working summers (1962-69) building and maintaining trails at Crater Lake NP.
Around 1970, he moved away from academia more towards what he really was and wanted to be, more scientific and hands on, in the real world. At this time he met and married Kathy O’Neil, eventually having two children, but divorcing after nine years. Also in 1970 he settled in Salem, working as a chemist for over 30 years in the industrial coatings industry at Akzo Nobel and then Associated Chemists in Portland. He met and in 1981 married Carolyn Dey, son David’s first grade teacher, a wonderful and increasingly devoted pairing of souls. A happy marriage and successful scientific career were augmented even more by his having embraced for the last 18 years the friendships and powerful life-teaching benefits of AA. Rex came to be the embodiment of all that he experienced, leavened by his genetic deck of cards. He brought together the literacy and way with words from his formal education, the precision and focus of his scientific interests and career with the hands-on practicality of real world experience, eventually learning also to harness perfectionism’s thoroughness and focus and OCD’s neatness and organization to great beneficial effect. This made the last six years of his professional career at Associated Chemists, and his subsequent retirement that much more rewarding.
His life-long, abiding love of music (Bach, Beethoven, Credence Clearwater Revival, Mozart, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.) afforded him a link to the spiritual, bringing serenity and at times some excitement, always reaching, as music does, deep into the soul. Retirement in 2003 ushered in a period of extensive and enjoyable travel for him and Carolyn (Alaska, the contiguous U.S., Europe and central America), and woodworking (furniture, etc.) and voracious reading for Rex (science, engineering, history, biography, and related fiction).
A few descriptive phrases by close friends give an additional taste of his character: “…the only person I know who could use four letter words and make them sound eloquent…”; “The only macho intellectual I know.”; “A cross between Socrates and a dock worker.”; “He reminds me of Wilson on the TV show ‘Home Improvement’ .” These are characterizations he considered accurate and in which he took great pride.
Rex is survived by his wife: Carolyn of Salem; children: David L. Pugmire (Alison) of Los Alamos, NM, and Kristine Moore of Portland; four grandchildren: Kaylene, Tatianna, Allyssa and Elle and brother: David R. Pugmire (Paola) of Southampton, England. A memorial service was held Saturday, July 12 at 2 p.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church in Stayton. Private interment was in the Calvary Lutheran Columbarium in Stayton. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in Rex’s name to the Union Gospel Mission in Salem.