Rex Norbert Smuts

August 30, 1922December 20, 2018

Rex Norbert Smuts, age 96, passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 20, 2018, at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. He was born August 30, 1922, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Ruth and Virgil Smuts and was the oldest son of eleven children. With his father in absentia, Rex spent his early years as paterfamilias for his brothers and sisters. The family struggled through the Great Depression, but Rex emerged a strong young man ready for whatever challenges life would present.

After graduating from Andrews High School in 1941, Rex went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a Fireman before enlisting in the service in January of 1943. A year after enlisting, he married the girl of his dreams, Mary Emma Small, also from Andrews, on October 5, 1943. Rex flew a myriad of aircraft during his WWII service but spent most of his airtime piloting a F4U Corsair. He earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant before his discharge from the Marines.

Rex spent the next 6 years back at work for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a Fireman before being called-up for duty in the Korean War. The family moved to the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina, where Rex flew the F9F Panther jet and reached the rank of Captain before his discharge from the Marine Reserve. It was then back to Andrews and the railroad. The family moved and then spent 3 years in Phoenix before again moving to Houston in 1962 where Rex started a swimming pool company which he ran until he retired in 1980. Both Rex and Mary were very active in the Spring Branch Christian Church congregation. Rex never lost his love for flying and flew many different small planes over his lifetime; he flew a Cessna 152 to celebrate his 90th birthday. He never met a stranger and was friends with everyone he met. He enjoyed life to the fullest.

Rex was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 72 years, Mary Emma Smuts and his precious granddaughter, Emma Marie Bravo. He is survived by his two sisters, Donna Ruth Martin of Andrews, Indiana, and Bonnie Baker of Huntington, Indiana, as well as his five children: David Smuts and his wife Paula, Tom Smuts, Richard Smuts and his wife Leslie, Alice Blackburn and her husband Jerry Blackburn, Robin Bravo and her husband Dr. Cesar Bravo, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Family and friends will gather and celebrate Rex's life during a memorial service at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, January 25, 2019 at Memorial Drive Christian Church, 11750 Memorial Drive in Houston, 77024. Following a brief reception at the church, all are invited to gather at 2:30 p.m. at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, where military honors will be rendered by members of the United States Marine Corps Honor Guard.


  • Memorial Service Friday, January 25, 2019
  • Committal Service Friday, January 25, 2019
  • Committal Service Friday, January 25, 2019

Rex Norbert Smuts

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Beverly and Randy Schorre

January 25, 2019

Dear Rick and Leslie and Family,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this journey of loss. Rex is free of human that he is with his Lord and Savior. Reuinted with Mary Emma and Emma Marie and others, he is rejoicing once more with a blessed family reunion.

Psalm 73:23-24
“Yet I am always with you; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.”

Beverly and Randy