Friends pay tribute to Rex, a respected community man
A HUMBLE man who was dedicated to his community, Rex Baguley not only gave greatly to his hometown - he also served his country as a soldier in World War II.
Rex died on Saturday, aged 94, but will remembered for his involvement in Olympic baton relays, his hockey talent, five decades of service at the Warwick Daily News and the mark he left on various community groups during his lifetime spent in Warwick.
Rex attended Warwick Central State School and then Warwick State High before becoming a messenger at the Daily News at age 14.
He began a six-year hand compositor's apprenticeship at 17, but a year later, in 1942, he joined into the Australian Army.
Rex served with the 7th Battalion in World War II and saw action on the Numa Numa trail on Bougainville Island.
When hostilities finished, Rex was part of a battalion that supervised more than 28,000 surrendered Japanese soldiers before their repatriation home.
He returned to Australia in October 1946, just over a year after the war finished.
Long-time friend Ron Bryant said he had known Rex since his own childhood, when Rex joined the Diggers Rifle Club with Ron's father, who was also a returned soldier.
It was at the Daily News that Rex and Mr Bryant again crossed paths, after Rex had climbed the ranks to become the foreman of the commercial section.
While Rex may have been a hard taskmaster at work, Mr Bryant said the pair became great friends and would take trips together to the Gold Coast with their wives, celebrate anniversaries and ring in every new year.
"We used to see each other on holidays every year and that went on for years," Mr Bryant said.
"Later in life he joined the Warwick Shire Woodcrafters and made some beautiful furniture.
"He was very revered with the members of the Warwick Shire Woodcrafters and at his age, he could produce work with the best of them."
Mr Bryant said when Rex's wife Betty fell ill a few years ago, his mate was right by her side.
"Rex showed his human side, he waited on Betty hand and foot," Mr Bryant said.
"He used to prepare meals at home and sneak them up for Betty."
Rex's contributions extended further than his own family and workplace, he was patron of the Warwick Hockey Association, a Freemason for more than six decades and alongside Betty managed the official rain gauge for Warwick on their Dragon St property for 27 years.
He received an Award of Merit from the Queensland Hockey Association and was the only runner from Warwick in the torch relay for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Rex followed this up with a stint in the torch relay for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and baton relay for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The fourth-generation resident held strong historical ties to the area - his great-grandfather was a stud groom at Canning Downs Station with the Leslie brothers.
After his great-grandfather died, Rex's great-grandmother married Robert Howe and then had more children, including the famous shearer Jackie Howe.
Friend John Skinner also crossed paths with Rex at the Daily News, saying he came to respect him very highly.
"Not only was he a very nice person, very easy to talk with and get along with, but he was so well respected within the community for what he'd done in the community," Mr Skinner said.
"We had such a quiet, gentle man who had all this great history but he never boasted about it."
Mr Skinner, who is also a veteran, said he would speak to Rex about their service but his mate was never one to big-note - a personality trait he seemed to carry through all aspects of his life.
"He just felt that he did what everybody should have done, it wasn't special you might say," Mr Skinner said.
"It wasn't a special job, it was just he did his duty, that was how he felt."
Rex will be farewelled at a private service.