Clovis News

'Mr. Clovis' Rex Phebus remembered for dedication to community

Rex Phebus earned the title "Mr. Clovis" with his unassuming manner and service to the community in many roles, said his family and friends.

Mr. Phebus, 92, died March 1.

He was on the Clovis Rodeo board of directors for more than 50 years, served as the manager of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District for 30 years and helped establish many youth and senior citizen programs.

"He had his hands in a little bit of everything," said longtime friend Stan King.

Mr. Phebus cared deeply about Clovis and knew the community well, said King, a former City Council member. He was a great source of information and a good gauge of community opinion during King's council tenure.

"If you wanted anything of historical reference on Clovis, he was the go-to guy," King said. "He definitely was 'Mr. Clovis.' "

Mr. Phebus was a humble man who carried out his job and volunteered with a low-key demeanor, his family and friends said.

In a 1983 story in The Bee about his contributions to the community, Mr. Phebus was asked what he did at the memorial building. He replied dryly, "Nothing."

The understatement was typical of how he approached his service to Clovis, said his daughter, Kelly Phebus.

"He just showed his community spirit by helping people," she said. "He gave to the community but didn't want any recognition."

Nonetheless, the memorial building was renamed in his honor after he retired as manager in 1984.

Mr. Phebus graduated from Clovis High School in 1938, receiving the Sassano Blanket Baseball Award his senior year. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II from 1942-45. He returned to Clovis and opened a gas station at Clovis Avenue and Seventh Street.

In March 1950, he married Eleanor Ann Wysong. They were married for 61 years. She died in June 2011 at age 85. Their son, Jerry, died in August.

Mr. Phebus' imprint on Clovis won't be forgotten, said his friend, Mike Vuicich. He was the first one to step forward for the betterment of the community or to help someone, Vuicich said.

"I couldn't have had a better friend," he said. "All my life, if I ever needed something, he showed up."

Rex Phebus

-- Born: Oct. 17, 1920

-- Died: March 1, 2013

-- Survivors: Son Tom Phebus, daughter Kelly Phebus, two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

-- Occupation: Manager of Clovis Veterans Memorial District Building.

-- Service: 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Rex Phebus Veterans Memorial Building, 808 Fourth St., Clovis.