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Rex L. Brown

Birth Date: October 3, 1930
Death Date: September 10, 2017

DECATUR – REX L. BROWN, 86, died on September 10, 2017. He was born on October 3, 1930 in Harvel, IL, the son of Loyd and Helen Sanders Brown. Rex is survived by his wife Marilyn M., with whom he enjoyed 67 years of blissful marriage and their 4 children: Bruce (Marilyn K.), Cynthia Zimdar (Bill), Britt (Laurie) and Brad (Michelle), 10 Grandchildren, 7 Great-Grandchildren, sister Sharon Rose Bright, and sister-in-law Sue Brown. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Max, sister Carole Ann and Step-mother Helen Martin Brown.

As a youth, Rex helped run his family grain farm, cattle ranch and Brown’s Grocery. They also ran a chicken production operation during WWII. Rex attended Knox College, graduated from Illinois State University and the University of Illinois Law School. While in college, he was a Butcher, Bartender, Sports Official, Newspaper Reporter and Photographer. Upon graduation from U of I Law School in 1957, Rex moved his family to Decatur to practice law. He was the Senior Partner at Brown, Hawkins & Basola, and had several distinguished lawyers in his firm throughout the years. He was loved by his thousands of clients, many of whom became friends.

As a Lawyer, he was a member of the Decatur, Illinois State, and American Bar Associations. He was President of the Decatur Bar Association 1996-1997 and received the 50 years Senior Counselor Recognition in 2007. As a Bar committee member, he lobbied the County to provide the Judicial robes for the Macon County Judges, a practice which continues today. In 1998 he was admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court, received the Illinois State Bar Board of Governor’s Award in 2002 and was an Adjunct Professor for at Richland Community College teaching Business and Real Estate Law.

As a prominent figure in the Republican Party, he was a member of the Young Republicans, a Precinct Committeeman for over 60 years, Chairman of the Macon County Republican Party and Delegate to the National Convention. In 1962 thru 1979 he was Elected and served on the Macon County Board; serving as Chairman 1971 – 1972 when instituted the displaying of the United States flag in the courtrooms and he commissioned and created the Macon County flag and Macon county seal which is also displayed in the courtrooms. In 1966 he unsuccessfully ran for State Senator which then ended his plans to run for President of the United States.

Community and Civic Organizations were always a very important part of Rex’s life. He served, chaired, was a trustee or member of numerous committees including: Illinois Standing Committee on Legal Services and Elder Law, Illinois Political Action Committee (LAWPAC), General Assembly for the Illinois State Bar Association, Macon County Regional Planning Commission, Macon County Mental Health Association, Macon County Historical Commission, Decatur Public Building Commission, the Oakley Damn and Reservoir Advisory Committee, Lincoln Trails Council for Boy Scouts, Breakfast and International Optimist, Decatur Commodore Semi-Pro Baseball Farm League team, South Side Country Club, Elks Club, Y.M.C.A, service club bowling league, Hearing Officer for the Illinois Department for Mines and Minerals, Director for the Bank of Maroa, Director for the Metro Decatur Chamber of Commerce. He played and managed various slow-pitch softball teams and traveled throughout the Midwest for championship tournaments. In 2001 and 2015 he received the Decatur Board of Realtors Gold Key Award. He also received the Good Government Award for the United Stated Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Rex and Marilyn enjoyed tent camping with their family and travelled to 48 states. They were devoted Illini Fans attending practically every football and basketball game. As President of the Decatur Illini Club they started and hosted the Illini Sweet Corn Roast for over 25 years. In 2016 they receive special recognition for the years of service to the club. Rex returned to his youth by managing hundreds of acres of farm ground, having a herd of Polled Hereford cattle and a flock of Suffolk sheep. He loved gardening while Marilyn did the canning. He also grew his own grapes and bottled his own wine.

The family thanks Dr. Franklin, Dr. McCormick, the Staff and Decatur Memorial Hospital and Imboden Creek Living Center for the loving services and care.

Rex has left the building, but the party is not over yet. He loved a good party! Please join Marilyn and the family for a Celebration of Rex’s Life at Doherty’s Pub & Pins, 242 E. William St., Decatur, IL on Sunday, September 17, 2017 1-4 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Decatur Illini Club Scholarship Foundation, DMH Foundation or Trinity Lutheran Church.

Thank-you Dad and Grandpa for teaching us about the values and lessons that really matter.

The family is being served by Graceland Fairlawn Funeral Homes. Please view the online obituary, send condolences, and share memories at

Celebration of Life
September 17, 2017
1:00 pm
- 4:00 pm
Doherty's Pub & Pins
242 E. William St. Decatur, IL
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  1. Dear Britt, Brad and family, So sorry to hear of your dad's passing. He was a dear friend and served our family well over the years. He was so proud of all you kids and his grandkids. He loved to talk about his family!!! Give our love and sympathy to your mom. Your dad will be missed by all of those that loved and cared about him and that means a lot of people!!! May God comfort your hearts at this time.
    Bob and Debby Hoewing

  2. When I first met Rex he told me:
    I've followed your life thru your newspaper articles n photos n your tv spots. I always thought your name was the perfect combination of Marilyn's n mine. From that we became friends
    Whenever I would see Rex I always called him "DAD" n he would smile. Sure will miss him!

  3. Rex said to me
    I've always followed your life in the newspaper from the moment I heard your name. I thought it was the perfect combination of Marilyn's n my names.

    Every time after that I called him "DAD" n he would laugh. I'll sure miss him!

  4. Rex was one of the happiest lawyers I met when I came to town and started practice in 1975. He was a welcoming presence in a world that seemed a little intimidating at the time. I enjoyed every encounter with Rex, professionally and then, after we both retired, while we were standing in line at the various events the offered free food. Marilyn was always there, too, such a lovely lady with a ready smile. Rex was a gift to this community. I am very sorry that he is gone. Jessica Stricklin

  5. Sending lots of love from your family down here in Texas! You guys are in our thoughts and prayers. Uncle Rex will surely be missed!

    Lauren Smith

  6. I attended several of the sweet corn extravaganzas hosted by the Brown family in the late 90s. We attended the Decatur Illini night with other U of I alums, and we attended the Decatur Bar Association night with other Macon County attorneys. He threw a great party. He made everyone feel welcome and at home. But what I really remember is the sparkle of pure joy in his eyes. He truly seemed to love sharing his family, and his home, and his good fortune with other people. Rest in peace, Rex. Well done.

  7. Britt,

    So sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family. Your Dad will be sorely missed!!!

    Sue Vought

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