April 3, 2012
Rex Yocum, 90, of Cheyenne, died Sunday, April 1, 2012 at Davis Hospice Center.
He was born June 27, 1921 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Job (Rusty) and Susan Yocum. He grew up in Gering, Nebraska and graduated from Gering High School in 1939. He attended Chadron State College until he entered the Army and served at the Pentagon as a cryptographer. Technical Sergeant Yocum was one of the few who deciphered messages for the "Eyes of the President only". In 1943, he married the love of his life, Bonnie McAndrew. After the war, he finished his degree and began his teaching career in Lusk, Wyoming where he taught for twelve years. He finished his Master's degree at the University of Wyoming.
In 1958, he moved to Cheyenne to be the Cheyenne High band director. When the school split, he moved to East High.
In 1966, he became the Coordinator of Music for the Cheyenne Public Schools until he retired in 1986. He was the director of the Cheyenne Symphony for 12 years, President of the Wyoming Music Educators twice, President of the Northwest division of the National Music Educators, and served on many regional and national advisory boards.
He was a member of the Lions Club, Zion Congregational Church where he was a board member, and Masons. In 1970 he was the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year. Governor Herschler declared May 30, 1986 "Rex Yocum Day." Don Erickson declared the week of May 4-11, 1986 as Music Week in honor of the outstanding teaching and music administration career of Rex Yocum. He served on the boards that got the Municipal Pool and the Cheyenne Civic Center built.
He is survived by his children Barbara (Bobbie) Nicholson (John) of Vail, Arizona; Rex (Rusty) Yocum (Anne) of Cheyenne; 4 Grandchildren, Shannon Simpson (Doug), Ryan Nicholson (Mara), David Yocum (Stacie), and Mark Yocum (Rachel), 9 Great-grandchildren, and his sister Doris Doling of Lincoln, Nebraska. He was preceded in death by his parents, his loving wife, Bonnie, and his brother Don Yocum.
Rex focused his life on family, church and improving the world around him. He is remembered by his former students as one of their outstanding teachers. All who knew him recognized his positive influence, kindness, and wonderful sense of humor. You knew that when he was around, it was going to be fun. He will be greatly missed, but always remembered for his legacy of unconditional love.
Memorial Services will be held on Saturday, April 7th at 10:30 a.m. at First Congregational Church. Rev. Eric Snyder. Private interment was held at an earlier date.
Memorials may be made to the Zion Congregational Church, or Davis Hospice House. Friends may sign the online guestbook at wrcfuneralhome.com
The Lusk Herald
April 18, 2012
Well-known former resident Rex Yocum dies
Rex Yocum passed away in Cheyenne April First. He had lived in Lusk from 1946 to 1958 and is still fondly remembered for the contributions he made to the school music program.
In addition to the pastor in charge, nine different friends and family members eulogized Yocum during services held April 7 at the First Congregational Church in Cheyenne. He was remembered as a person with no enemies, a great sense of humor and someone who could find a positive aspect in even really negative situations. His high personal standards led him to expect excellence from his students, and he had the personality and people skills to bring out the best in his students, making them work hard but enjoy the experience. He was a very talented person who was apparently without conceit - someone who could take the job at hand very seriously without ever taking himself too seriously.
While Rex was in the school system in Lusk, the numbers of people in both band and chorus increased dramatically and the quality of the groups was consistent. A streak of performing success for the band began under his tenure that saw them go on to achieve over twenty consecutive years of superior ratings in festival performances. Rex was able to bring the premier trumpet player of that era, Rafael Mendez, to perform in Lusk. He was also quite active in church and civic organizations.
During the Yocum era there were weekly summer concerts in the band shell in Washington Park. One night when the wind was blowing hard enough that the musicians needed clothes pins to keep their music secure, his son Rusty recounted how instead of passing them around Rex took a container full of them and began tossing handfuls to each area of the stage. He then turned to the crown and said, "They won't play unless you feed them" - knowing what he was doing looked much like a zoo feeding time.
Rex left Lusk to become band director at Cheyenne High School, and when the school divided, he went to the new school - East High. Later accomplishments included being the coordinator of music for the Cheyenne Public School system and a lengthy stay as director of the Cheyenne Symphony. During that time he brought the symphony to Lusk to perform, and its players included some former Lusk residents. He was also adjudicator at many music festival and competitions - often ones in which Lusk was involved.
Rex Yocum received honors too numerous to mention. Last summer he was honored on his ninetieth birthday with several hundred people attending. Current Lusk residents attending the memorial services included Anita Troudt and Mark Lohr.
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