JOHN ROBERT PEXTON

Born: Sun., Sep. 27, 1925
Died: Mon., Dec. 25, 2017


Recitation of the Rosary

7:00 PM Thu., Jan. 11, 2018
Location: Gorman Funeral Home - Converse Chapel


Funeral Liturgy

10:00 AM Fri., Jan. 12, 2018
Location: Saint James Catholic Church


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Funeral liturgy for John Robert Pexton, 92, will be held at 10:00 A.M. Friday, January 12, 2018 at the Saint James Catholic Church in Douglas, Wyoming with Father Bill Hill as the Celebrant.  A rosary service will be held at 7:00 P.M. Thursday, January 11, 2018 at the Gorman Funeral Homes-Converse Chapel in Douglas.  Interment will be in the Douglas Park Cemetery with military honors accorded by Samuel Mares American Legion Post #8 and Wyoming Army National Guard Military
Funeral Honors.

John Robert Pexton was born in the Douglas Hospital at 214 North 6th Street, Douglas, Wyoming on September 27, 1925, the second son and second child of Lisle Edward Pexton and Lucille Emogene Scott Pexton.  His grandparents were John Pexton and Mary Krebs Pexton and Joseph Robert “Bob” Scott and Cornelia H. “Nellie” Bolling Scott Payne.

He passed away in his sleep from natural causes at his home at 107 North 6th Street, on December 25, 2017 at the age of 92.

Pexton began his education in Douglas at the North Grade School (while living with his Pexton grandparents at 101 South 6th Street) and elementary schools in Glendo and rural southern Converse County.  In 1939 he entered Converse County High School where he was active in FFA becoming the chapter president.  He graduated with the class of 1943.

When he reached the age of 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was stationed at training bases in Texas, Kansas, Arizona, and Nebraska before being assigned to the crew of a B-29 Flying Fortress as a right gunner.

More B-29’s were lost to mechanical failure than were ever shot down.  His first assigned B-29 was lost in this manner, and only two of the original crew remained as they were not aboard when it went down.  His second assignment was the “Lucky Leven” B-29 which was later renamed T Square 6.  This plane was the longest combat B-29 flying in both WWII and the Korean Conflict.  John was stationed on Saipan and flew 35 missions from there to bomb Japan.  John said that he never truly experienced the war – he was “always flying above it.”  The plane evidently was hit once as the tail gunner received the Purple Heart for his wound.

Among other decorations, John received the Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters.  John was discharged in 1945 with rank of Staff Sergeant.  He said that in 1944, it took 30 hours to fly from Kearney, Nebraska to Saipan but in 1945 it took 30 days to return to the States.  John was the youngest and last surviving member of the “Lucky Leven” crew.

After returning from the service, he attended the University of Wyoming.  He then ranched with his father before purchasing part of the ranch in 1949.

In 1946, he became associated with the 4-H program becoming the livestock leader for the LaBonte 4-H Club. He led for over 25 years and also coached the county livestock judging team.  In 1954, he was named Leader of the Year, and he served two terms as president of the County 4-H Council.

On October 2, 1948, he married Noramae Philbrick in Douglas.  They became the parents of Frank, Mike, Tim, Jeff, and Melanie.  Their home was the old George Foxton ranch      on Indian Creek.  Noramae passed away in July 1972.  John was proud of his children and their families and the persons they became and what they accomplished.

In the mid-1950’s, the southern part of the ranch was purchased on what was written on a napkin in a Glendo café and sealed with a handshake -- his word was his bond.  John was one of the “good guys” who wore a white hat.  He could be recognized at a distance by his silver belly open road Stetson.  His last hat is buried with him.  He always tipped his hat to the ladies.  The Colt Track Ranch was added to the ranch in the late 1960’s.

John spent over 20 years serving on the school boards of Converse County – Districts 19 and 17.

The Converse County Commissioners in 1973 appointed John to the Converse County Library Board.  He served until 1979.

John purchased the Anna and Jacob Jenne 1902-1903 house at the corner of Center and North 6th Streets in 1974.  It was on the market for very reasonable price and the owners had done many renovations to update it.  This would become his home for over 43 years.

On Friday the 13th of September 1974, John married Catherine Ida “Kati” Larkin in Washington Park in Douglas.  The wedding had been scheduled on the ranch west of Esterbrook, but it was covered with a foot of snow, and the ceremony was moved to Douglas.

In 1975, John went to work for Converse County as a Deputy Field Assessor – a position he held for over three years.  He and Lou Steckley traveled about the county measuring new buildings so they could be placed on the assessment roles.

John decided to run for County Commissioner in 1978.  He never campaigned — running only one ad in the local papers the week before the election.

This was the year that Governor Ed Herschler led a People to People tour to Russia.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity; John borrowed the money from his insurance policy so that he and Kati could travel abroad.  What a trip!!

In November, John was elected to the Converse County Commission – and reelected for three more terms, serving until 1995.

The decade of the 1980’s was a busy ten-year period for John.  Walter Dolling and Norman Stinnette had a contract appraising properties across the state, and they needed help.  John trained under them and received his permit to become a real estate appraiser in Wyoming.  In 1986, he started Saddleback Appraisals; in 1988, he began his schooling and later became a Wyoming Certified General Real Estate Appraiser.  He appraised mostly ranch properties until he retired in July 2014 at the age of 89.

For several years, he wrote a weekly column for “The Douglas Budget” – The View From Pex’s Pasture.  He’d write about historical and current happenings and people.

About this same time, he formed a Wyoming Pioneer Association committee to gather family stories which later were compiled into the book “Pages From Converse County’s Past” which was a four-year project – 1982-1986.  He also wrote stories for it about people who no longer had living family members.

For a couple years, he was in charge of the annual Wyoming Pioneer Association’s Antique Show and Sale.  

Douglas and Converse County celebrated their centennials in 1986 and 1988, respectively; he served on the Douglas Centennial Commission.

He was an original member of the Douglas Historical Preservation Commission and served through 2015.  He was recognized by the City of Douglas for his dedication to this commission.

For many years he served as an election judge.  At one time, he was his precinct’s Republican Committeeman.

In 2015, John learned that his nine times great grandparents are Pocahontas and John Rolfe.  His Ancestry DNA confirmed this.  The line comes through his maternal grandmother Nellie Bolling.  

John was a life member of the Wyoming Pioneer Association; and a member of St. James Catholic Church, where he served as Trustee for many years; Knights of Columbus; American Legion; Wyoming and County Farm Bureaus; Wyoming and County Historical Societies; 73rd Bomb Wing Association; American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, and AARP.

Pexton was a past president or chairman of Wyoming County Commissioners Association;  Wyoming Pioneer Association (three terms); Converse County Commissioners (16 years); Converse County and LaBonte Farm Bureaus; Converse County Library Foundation; Literary Volunteers of Douglas; and School District 19.

He was awarded Distinguished Service Awards from the Douglas Chamber of Commerce and Converse County Farm Bureau; and an Honorary State Farmer Degree from the Wyoming FFA.  The Literary Volunteers of Douglas recognized his service to them.

John liked to cook.  He especially liked chokecherry jelly; Ann Larkin, his mother-in-law, showed him how to make it – the jelly was so good he entered it at the Wyoming State Fair where it won the blue ribbon – one of many.  He also liked pie – Kati showed him how to make the crust.  She never made a pie again.  John made the most delicious pies.  People would brag on someone’s pie, and Kati having eaten that pie would say, “John makes better pies”.  He made rhubarb crisp for the Pexton reunions and the traditional Pexton suet pudding for Christmas.  John’s favorite meal was breakfast – he made the best from scratch pancakes without a recipe.

He was preceded in death by his two year old sister Barbara Lea on November 21, 1932; wife of 23 years Noramae on July 9, 1972; mother Lucille on December 24, 1988;  father Lisle on August 30, 1995; brother Charles on June 9, 2008; four Coil; three Hildebrand; and three Patterson  first cousins.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Catherine “Kati” Pexton; sons Frank (Rita Redig), and Tim (Dawn) of Douglas, Mike (Marlene) of Torrington and Jeff (Marty) of Kremmling, Colorado; daughter Melanie Schroeder (Jack Meredith) of Douglas; nine grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren; brother Richard L. (Jacque) of Douglas and sister Joan Woodin Harmon (Van) of Casper; cousin Frances Coil Dyer of Crawford,
Nebraska; many nieces, nephews, and cousins; and Duke, the family cat.

Pallbearers were his Pexton grandsons Matt of Douglas, Brett, Cory, and Trent of Cheyenne, Marty Miles and great-grandson Wyatt Miles of Pine Bluffs, Josh Bryan of Hennessey, Oklahoma, and Jack Meredith of Douglas.

Honorary pallbearers were his granddaughters:  Heidi Pexton Miles of Pine Bluffs; Candi Pexton Scheurman of Ankeny, Iowa; Brianna Pexton Bryan of Hennessey, Oklahoma; Jamie Schroeder of Spearfish, South Dakota; and Lacey Pexton Marks of Kremmling, Colorado;  Chuck Bruner, Howard Huxtable, Marlon Schlup, Earl Shatto, Mike Sierz. George Smith, Dorothy Taylor, and Jim Willox all of Douglas; Rory Cross, Pat Hand, and Gordon Taylor all of Cheyenne; Arlene Ekland Earnst of Polson, Montana, Alice Jean Kirn of Lusk, Brian Marso of Billings, Montana, Mary Alice Leman Hand Mercer of Glenrock; Len Sherwin of Hyattville, Bob Shockley of Conway, Missouri, Roger Wesnitzer of Casper, and Gretchen Wright of Amherst, Virginia.
neral Honors.

The Gorman Funeral Homes – Converse Chapel of Douglas, Wyoming is in charge of the arrangements.

Condolences may be sent to the family at www.gormanfh.com

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Beth & mal wagstaff
   Posted Sat December 30, 2017
Pexton family, we are sorry that the world has lost John. He will be missed and leaves a great heritage. Our love to all, Beth& mal wagstaff

Ernie & Kristi Schroeder
   Posted Sat December 30, 2017
Our deepest sympathy for your loss, May God guide you all and keep your memories close, Peace be with you.

Chuck & Mary Schleis
   Posted Mon January 01, 2018
We’re sorry to hear about your father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Dennis & Lucile Taylor
   Posted Wed January 03, 2018
A truly great and knowledgeable person has left us and we will miss so many great things about John and his sharing such great history of this area.

Rest in Peace, until we meet again!

With deepest sympathy,

Sharon Lovitt
   Posted Thu January 04, 2018
John was a special, and long time friend. He was always supportive , and willing to help me with advise, as well as , sharing his past experience. He contributed so much to our County. His passing is a true loss for us all.

With deepest sympathy to all his family,

Sharon Lovitt

Julie Johnson
   Posted Tue January 09, 2018
I only got to know John briefly but when he smiled at me he made me think of my father. He will be missed I'm sure.

Billie Eggleston
   Posted Thu January 11, 2018
My Sympathy to YOU IN YOUR LOSS God Bless and take care

Tiny
   Posted Thu January 11, 2018
Hi Pextons so sorry to hear about John,best wishes and blessings to you all . from Duane and Tiny Walker

Billie Eggleston
   Posted Thu January 11, 2018
my Blessing to you all in the loss of your loved one from Billie and her Family

eric renstrom
   Posted Fri January 12, 2018
I will always remember John as one of the last two people at church to ALWAYS wear a suit there, always stand up when he was supposed to no matter how much it pained his tired bones and his trademark hat sitting on the ledge. He truly is an icon of this county and state. My condolences to the family.

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