Born: February 08, 1920
Died: February 24, 2012
Dr. Rex Vernon Blumhagen, age 92, a resident of West Chicago, died peacefully at home on Friday, February 24. He was born on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Polson, Montana the second of five children of Cecile Mary Nunnely and Albert Emil Blumhagen on February 8, 1920.
He married his college sweetheart Jeanne Bourland on December 23, 1943. He attended Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington and graduated from Northwestern University Medical School. He served in the military during World War II.
Rex spent his life bringing medical care and cheer to people around the world. He is best known recently for his work at Central DuPage Hospital Emergency Room where he was one of two founding doctors. He also started the Stratford Urgent Care Center with his wife Jeanne.
His heart was in Afghanistan. He felt called to that country in his teenage years and spent his early adult years trying to get there. In 1960 he finally was able to take his young family there and he spent the next 35 years going in and out of Afghanistan. The centerpiece of his work was a hospital and outpatient clinics in the central highlands. He would go off on horseback to deliver babies and hold clinics in obscure tiny villages. He was adventurous and never happier than when he was driving off road and up mountains and on treacherous cliff sides that drove his wife crazy. Later he would start medical works in Nepal and Bangladesh and work out of Cyprus.
For most of his life he traveled around the world. In the early 60’s he packed up his children in a Landrover and left Kabul, Afghanistan for an overland trip on dirt roads with no gas stations or ready water all the way to Barcelona, Spain. In an early homeschooling effort, he took his children to historical sites along the way: Percepolis, Cyrus Tomb, Babylon, Petra, Ephesus. Finally the car was put on a ship in Spain sailed to New York and driven to California. He visited every continent except Australia, Antarctica and sailed on every major world river from the Yellow River in China, the Amazon in Ecuador and the Nile in Egypt. He hiked in the Andes and Himalayas.
His last years were spent in his beloved garden. His artistic side was shown in his perennial long bed and his vast daylily beds. Every year he dreamed up a new garden or tile mosaic or fish pond. His wife, Jeanne despaired because as he dreamed of new and better beds, she was left to weed and maintain his last creation.
He was always interested in everybody else and wherever he went he made people feel as if they were the most special person in the world. His wife, Jeanne worked and lived by his side his whole life. He will be missed by his whole family and all who knew him.
His house faced the sunset but he looked forward to painting sunrises in heaven. He couldn’t sing in life but he is singing now with the angels.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanne, four children, Dan William (Michelle) Blumhagen of Baker, WV, Susan Carol Blumhagen, (Larry) Fullerton of Trumbull, CT, Wendy Ann Tyler of Carol Stream, IL and Karyn Lee Blumhagen of Wheaton, IL, 9 grandchildren, Eric (Laura) and Andrew Blumhagen, Brian Tyler, Kimya (Joel) Fullerton Knecht, David (Kate) Fullerton, and Amy Fullerton, Derek (Leslie), Collin (Katy) and Jillian Berner, 7 great-grandchildren, Emma and Kira Blumhagen, Catherine and Alaric Blumhagen, and Elijah, Grant and Silas Knecht, and his brother Arnold Lloyd (Bettye) Blumhagen.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Ruth Margaret Blumhagen Rush, Delbert Earl and Albert Dale Blumhagen.
Visitation will be held at Hultgren Funeral Home, 304 N. Main St., Wheaton, IL on Monday, February 27, 2012 from 3 until 8 p.m. There will be a private funeral and internment the following day. A public memorial service will be held at College Church in Wheaton on Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 11:00 with a reception following in the Commons.
Memorials may be directed to Interserve USA, PO Box 418, Upper Darby, PA 19082-0418.
Information and guest book is at www.hultgrenfh.com or call 630-668-0027.