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1924 - 2018

James Rex, M.D. (S ’61)

Dr. James Caldwell Rex, who served as a prominent cardiothoracic surgeon in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, passed away Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at the Cascades Verdae in Greenville, SC.  He was 94 years old.

Dr. Rex practiced in the Lehigh Valley for almost three decades and served on the staffs of Allentown General Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital and later the Lehigh Valley Hospital before retiring in 1990.  The J.C. Rex Thoracic Surgical Group grew to seven cardiothoracic surgeons during that time.  He was instrumental in organizing vascular studies in the area, implanted the first cardiac pacemaker in the Lehigh Valley and pioneered many vascular procedures in Allentown.

Born in Slatington, PA, he was the son of the late Walter Rex and Miriam Caldwell Rex.  After graduating from Slatington High School in June of 1942, he attended Penn State University, Bucknell University, Muhlenberg College, and later Temple University.   His studies were interrupted by a tour of duty in the Navy during World War II.

Dr. Rex received his medical degree from Temple University in 1950.  Upon completing a residency at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dearborn, MI, Dr. Rex began a general practice in Catasauqua, PA.  He remained there until 1957 when he pursued a Master’s Degree in surgery at the University of Minnesota.  He completed further training in North Carolina and specialized in cardiothoracic surgery, ultimately opening his surgical practice in Allentown in 1963.

Dr. Rex served as chief of thoracic surgery at the Lehigh Valley area hospitals and was a member of various surgical organizations.   He served as president of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

After retiring in July of 1990, he and his wife Kathryn moved to Palm Coast, FL.  There his love for the piano blossomed, and along with taking lessons to hone his skills, he performed at various community and social events, at nursing homes and hospices and was the pianist for the Hammock Community Church until he and his wife left the area in 2012.

Dr. Rex was a dedicated golfer, and he and his wife enjoyed travel and continuing education through the Elderhostel program.  He was also an excellent bridge player.

In 2012, Dr. Rex and his wife moved to Greenville, SC to be near their son.  They resided at the Cascades until the time of his death.

Dr. Rex is survived by his wife of 68 years, Kathryn Lengel Rex, along with their three children, Cynthia Armstrong of Ridgefield, CT, Kathy Hundley of Frederick, MD, and Dr. James C. Rex, Jr. of Greenville, SC. Along with his wife and children, he will be missed by sons-in-law, Steve Armstrong and Tom Hundley; daughter-in-law, Amy Buggy Rex; grandchildren, Stephanie Armstrong Namballa, Chris Armstrong, Elizabeth Hundley Gardner, Caroline Hundley, Jessica Rex, James C. Rex, III, and Jared Rex; and great-granddaughter, Arora Kathryn Namballa.

In addition to his parents, Dr. Rex was preceded in death by his brother, Charles Robert “Bobby” Rex.

Private services will be held at the Cascades Verdae at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Mercy Ships, P.O. Box 1930, Lindale, TX 75771.