INDIANAPOLIS — Rex Early, the former Indiana Republican Party Chairman, has died at the age of 88.
The Vincennes Native, Marine Corps veteran and Indiana University graduate served as chairman from 1991-1993. He also served as the state chair for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign in Indiana.
"Rex was truly one of a kind—and most everyone who knew him would agree—Thank God for that. As a man of many eras, he was the Indiana Republican Party’s Iron Man," Gov. Holcomb said in a statement. "[Rex's] loyalty and devotion to our state and nation will never be surpassed."
Current Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer called Early "a Hoosier legend."
“Throughout his life, Rex would contribute to the Indiana Republican Party more than just his chairmanship. His colorful personality and infamous storytelling helped our conservative message reach thousands of Hoosiers across the state and shape our party's image," Hupfer said in a statement. "Our sincerest condolences to Rex’s family and all who had the pleasure of calling him a friend and colleague.”
Early ran for governor in 1996 and finished second in the Republican primary to then-Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who lost the general election to Democrat Frank O'Bannon.
He also ran one of former senator Richard Lugar's campaigns for mayor of Indianapolis.
"His stalwart leadership kept Indiana great and made America Great Again…but more than that he made politics and public service fun!" Attorney General Todd Rokita shared on Twitter.
Our great state lost one of its best voices ever. My dear friend Rex Early was loved by all whether friend or opponent. He served as a state legislator, rescued the Indiana GOP at the time from bankruptcy, and would have been one of the best Governors in Indiana history… pic.twitter.com/oBqsn2crws— Todd Rokita (@AGToddRokita) November 12, 2022
According to his obituary, Early was married for 68 years to his wife Barbara Shepard, who is still living.
You can read Holcomb's full statement below.
"Rex was truly one of a kind—and most everyone who knew him would agree—Thank God for that.
"As a man of many eras, he was the Indiana Republican Party’s Iron Man.
"His support was coveted. From dog catcher to U.S. President, lines formed at his door for an endorsement. His wit was a weapon that could take over a room, or torpedo a campaign. He wore the ring, and just preferred you kiss it.
"Early, and Holcomb family roots run deep in Knox County Indiana, which probably means we’re somehow related. For that, I’ll forever be proud, and grateful to have known Rex, whose loyalty and devotion to our state and nation will never be surpassed.
"A true Marine, he fought up until his last stand and will forever be missed with a smile.
"Until we meet again, all Hail Rex."
Visitation will be at St. Pius X Catholic Church on Tuesday, November 15th from 5:00pm-8:00pm. Additional visitation will begin at 10:00 am on Wednesday, November 16th at the church and conclude at time of Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 am. Interment follows at Union Chapel Cemetery.
A Celebration of Life will follow services at White River Yacht Club Wednesday, 11/16/2022 12:00pm-3:00pm.