Rex Andrew Dahl was many things to many people, and hundreds showed up to bid him farewell on Wednesday at Neal Funeral Home in Cleveland after a tragic accident took his life on Saturday night, July 18.
Rex Dahl was best known in recent years as a biker, with long hair and a long beard, who co-owned with his wife, a Conroe Ice House called Thirsty’s. He was also a United States Marine, and a Vietnam Veteran who was born on the Fourth of July, 1951.
A man loved by many
There were bikes as far as the eye could see, outnumbered cars about four to one. The mourners were too many to count, but inside the large chapel it was standing room only, with people squeezed in three to four deep in the back. The overflow filled the foyer, and some remained outside. They were all ages and from all walks of life. As expected, the clear majority were bikers, however.
Classic biker music played by Bob Seger, Kris Kristofferson, and Lynyrd Skynyrd as people filed in, consoling one another and discussing their disbelief that Rex was gone.
An enduring favorite, Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” played as photos flashed on a screen as those gathered laughed and cried, sometimes simultaneously. The photo collection spanned Rex Dahl’s life, from his childhood to the early years of his relationship with his wife, Kathy to current times. There were photos of a thin, clean cut, clean shaven Rex during his military service, which seemed to get the strongest reaction from a room packed with people who will remember him as a sort of biker Santa who loved to tease people but would also give them the shirt off his back.
Rev. David Taylor officiated, which was interesting because he was not a minister who they happened to know from the neighborhood, or the pastor of a family member. Taylor was an old friend of Rex, which made his job harder and his words heartfelt.
Taylor read a poem called “The Greatest Man We Ever Knew,” written by Rex’s daughter, Rachel Seggerman. It talked about what a loving man he was, how he “left a mark on everyone that he met,” and how his passion for riding took his life.
Some paid tribute by sharing memories
Mourners were invited to spontaneously share something about Rex. Everyone who spoke was obviously devastated, but found at least some comfort in their memories. His sister-in-law told of how she met Rex shortly before Kathy, how he became a member of their family, and how there would always be an “empty place” at their table, at family gatherings.
A friend of Rex and Kathy led everyone in The Lord’s Prayer.
Then came the speaker no one expected. When Kathy Dahl took the microphone, there was complete silence. She spoke of how she loved Rex and how he loved her and encouraged everyone present to be sure and always tell their loved ones how they felt.
Kathy shared the details of her last day with Rex, beginning with what she called a “fantastic” ride that lasted from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
After returning Thirsty’s, someone she only referred to as Gilbert, for unknown reasons, played Rex and Kathy’s engagement song, “Crystal Chandeliers.”
“Rex always told me, Honey you may not have no fancy clothes, but I’ll always be there for you…” Kathy said through tears. “He always lived up to that the whole time we were married”
“We danced, and he held me in his arms, and he said “Kathy, I love you so much” and he kissed me,” she said.
Kathy told Rex she loved him too.
Neither could have known it would be their last dance, their last embrace, their last “I love you.”
About an hour later, both left the bar for home, taking different routes, but Rex never arrived. Kathy said he was always the first home and when she arrived and Rex was not there, she knew something was terribly wrong. A short time later, Kathy learned that Rex would never be home again.
By the time Kathy finished sharing with the other mourners, there was not a dry eye in the building. As much as Rex Dahl’s generosity and love touched people, the deep and abiding love he shared with Kathy also left an impression on all who knew them.
Others spoke after Kathy, though it was difficult at first.
A member of Rex and Kathy’s adopted Thirsty’s family, named Lori, lightened the tone of things as she told stories about Rex, saying how he was spoiled by Kathy. She drew hearty laughter when she shared a ritual Rex had, of pinching her hard enough to leave a bruise on her leg each time that he saw her.
“If he didn’t pick on you, there was something wrong,” she said, laughing.
Most laughed or nodded in agreement.
Another bar owner talked about how Rex helped her with a benefit when she first opened and had no idea how to organize such an event.
Rev. Taylor eventually had to take back the microphone, though the stories could likely have continued the rest of the day.
“When you heard Rex passed away, everybody in this building remembered something and it was something positive,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he met Rex almost 40 years ago. They met in the military, and though their lives took different paths, they remained close.
The seasoned minister said he once told Rex that he spent a lot of his time counseling people in his profession, and Rex said he did too.
“He looked like an old grizzly bear, but he had a heart that was pure gold,” Taylor said.
“He was loved by everybody.”
“When he came into our lives, we never realized we’d lose him this suddenly,” Taylor said.
He compared Rex and Kathy to people who are said to take in “every stray dog in the neighborhood,” but he said the Dahl’s did that with people.
“Rex was the glue in the lives of many people,” Taylor said. “Don’t let that glue cease to hold.”
For once, the ride was for Rex
The Patriot Guard Riders stood watch outside the funeral home with their American flags. The group has led many funeral processions, but this time, they made up only a fraction of the bikes that streamed from Cleveland up Hwy 105 to Conroe and then Copeland Chapel Cemetery off of McCaleb Rd. near Lake Conroe.
Although a large number of the bikers at the funeral in Cleveland were unable to continue the journey to the other side of Conroe, a total of 135 bikes were parked for the graveside service.
An Indian bike Rex loved was transported to the graveside in the back of a pickup.
Rex Dahl was buried with full military honors, including Taps and the folding and presentation of the American flag that was draped over his casket to his wife.
In the end there was a dove release. Then mourners slowly disbursed.
Trying to repay Rex and Kathy…
Like any family who suffers a loss, the Thirsty’s family needed one another for strength and after the funeral, they gathered at the ice house where they shared memories of Rex and discussed how to help his family with funeral expenses.
Rex and Kathy Dahl have hosted countless rides and benefits over the years, to help families and all sorts of crisis. Now that Rex was taken unexpectedly, it is his family who needs help.
The first benefit ride, barbecue and auction is today and more events are expected to follow.