- Published: February 12, 2015
Rex Barger died in the presence of friends on Nov. 9, 2014, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, after leading a full, unusual and meaningful life.
He was born in Bolenge, Belgian Congo, to medical missionary parents, Dr. Gervase and Myrtle Barger. Having circumnavigated the world before he was 8, he maintained a global viewpoint throughout his life.
The Second World War interrupted his studies in recreation and dance at Antioch College. Trained as a B-29 pilot, he was based in the Marianas in the Pacific. The horrific devastation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima led him to devote his life to promoting peace and other life-affirming values.
In 1945, he returned to Antioch. He married Corinne “Criss” Larrison and combined parenthood with completing his studies, working in the college library and teaching folk and square dance. He and Criss shared an active interest in the community. In the early 1960s, Rex created ACTION (Ad hoc Committee To Integrate Optimally Now), a small civil rights group of villagers that picketed against racial discrimination at a local barbershop.
In the late 1960s, with their children at school and college, Rex and Criss parted ways and he increasingly took up a mobile lifestyle. He visited communities in the United States and Canada to organize folk and square dancing as a way to promote community building.
His move to Canada was sponsored by relatives. He eventually resided with Ann and Mike Lanigano at their Simpler Thyme Organic Farm. From there, he would walk immense distances to further his community-building activities. A serious injury several years ago led to the loss of a leg and to nursing home care, supplemented by the support of a Quaker “committee of care.”
Rex was active in a wide range of progressive organizations for peace, civil rights and social justice. The principal basis for this obituary at http://www.hamiltonobituaries.com listed 20 groups before adding “among others.” He will be remembered as a truly unique group activator, strong in passion for humanity and the earth and for his transformative values, expressed in music, dance, writing and crafts. He was an eccentric who lived in extremes of simplicity, “walking his talk.”
Rex was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters Wenona (Diggle) and Erva (Zuckerman), his daughter, Jaq Ellen Barger, and his dearly loved Helen Paulin.
His survivors include his brother, Ben, son, Jorn, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and many special friends for whom Rex was an inspiration and model.