Rex James Hotchkiss, Sr.
Born July 17, 1936 in Burlingame, Kansas
July 3, 2003 in Riverside, California

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

- Harry Chapin, 1974

Rex James Hotchkiss, Sr. was born in Burlingame, Kansas to James A. and Alice L. Hotchkiss. He had three sons, who are Rex, Jr, of Antioch, California, (me) David of Corona, California, Adam of Glendale, California and a daughter, Cynthia L. Swanger of Monroe, Georgia.

His early years were spent in Burlingame where he was born until my grandfather moved the family to Houston, Texas when my dad was about 8. They then moved back to Kansas and lived in Wichita where he lived from the time he was 15 into his early adulthood. At the time they moved toWichita, my dad was undersized for his age. However, by the time he entered college in 1954 at Wichita University, he had grown to 6' 1 1/2".

According to my dad and his parents, when he was smaller, he was picked on and bullied quite a lot. That turned out to be a mistake because he didn't seem to forget those that bullied him. As he grew larger and became more athletic, he was no longer at the receiving end of the bullying. I think that is part of the reason he was often perceived as a street-fighter or a tough guy in Wichita. The Hotchkiss' in Burlingame were mostly coal miners who often spent weekends wrestling and fighting partially for fun and perhaps see who was the toughest. While my dad didn't live in Burlingame long, they did go up to the Burlingame and the Osage City area often for visits, where he played, wrestled and fought with his cousins.

I wouldn't say that I fondly think of my dad as a "tough guy" because in his later years, I always thought of him as my dad and as my daughter's, my nephew's and my niece's grandpa. However, I do understand the mentality and where it came from and I'm not embarrassed about it. I liken it to a sort of "King of the Hill" type of mentality where the one that is currently the "King" is the one that the rest of the guys target. There was also the mentality that he gained from the rural coal mining town and the rough-housing antics that came with spending weekends there. He was also fiercely loyal to his friends and family and defended them when necessary. Due to that, I think he was often misunderstood as he felt that to leave a true legacy as a man, he needed to be tougher than the rest. Based upon all of the recounts I've heard, and based upon everything I saw during my life with my dad, he achieved that.

He was able to channel some of the aggression into sports as he wrestled, played football, was on the gymnastics team at East High, and also boxed at one time. He was the 1954 State of Kansas 185-pound wrestling champion (his brother Arthur won the same weight class the very next year) and was a key part of the football team at East High. He gained a football scholarship to Wichita University (now known as Wichita State) where he had some grade problems his first year. So, he transferred to El Dorado JC and played his sophomore season there in 1955. He injured his knee and met my mom in 1956 and was married on June 30, 1956. His first child, Rex, Jr., was born in June of 1957 and I was born in January of 1960 the same year that my sister Cindy was born in Massachusets. The marriage between my mom and dad ended in March of 1960.

My dad then moved to Southern California in 1961 where he met his second wife and they had his third son, Adam in 1964. He worked at Pico Metal for a number of years before becoming an apprentice pressman at the Los Angeles Times in about 1969. He worked his way up to journeyman and retired from there in 1992. He then went back to work as a pressman for a very short time at the San Gabriel Tribune, where he was forced back into retirement due to an industrial injury to his other knee. He and his second wife divorced in approximately 1976.

From the 1970's through the 1990's, my dad had become very interested in swords and knives and collected many. He particularly liked the renaissance era swords and displayed them proudly on his walls. He also enjoyed renaissance festivals. He enjoyed history, antropology, and religion and spent hours reading books about these topis. In his later years, he lived in a senior apartment complex that offered Wednesday night Bible study. He went often, but not necessarily for spiritual enlightenment, but to argue the historical aspects of the Bible much to the chagrin of the presiding pastor.

He enjoyed the culinary diversity that Southern California offered as he loved to try international cuisine and anything that was different. However, my dad's interest went beyond the food as he particularly enjoyed learning about different cultures. He was not only interested in the food, but was interested in the people that made it and their history. In many respects, I learned tolerance of other nationalities and cultures from my dad. I also learned to try the variety of international cuisine that we have here in Southern California.

His favorite movies were the 1960 film Spartacus and the 1995 film Braveheart. He enjoyed the Braveheart movie mostly because it depicted a Scottman (we are of Scottish heritage) fighting for freedom. He was immensely proud of that and talked often of our roots. He also enjoyed the 2000 film called Gladiator for much of the same reason that he enjoyed Spartacus in that it portrayed a lot of action and it reinforced his theory of what it took to be a man. His entire life, he loved music and loved to dance. However, after about 1994 when he injured his second knee, he really couldn't do as much on the dance floor as he once was capable of.

In spite of the fact that my dad once had jumped out of a second-story window on a dare at East High, he was afraid of heights. He would often drive miles out of his way in Southern California to avoid going over high overpasses. As I mentioned, he also loved music. So, he would often drive with his music blaring oldies and sort of dancing to the music in his seat and his car often swerving to the beat of some 50's "Hop Sock" sound, maybe some 60's Motown, or some 70's Disco beat. Throughout my dad's life, it was a constant embarrassment to be in a car with him and have him constantly moving to the music, having the car moving to it as well, and driving about half of the speed limit. There was never a dull moment with my dad. When I drove, he often complained that I was going too fast and would tell me to "slow down, my eyeballs can't keep up," or "slow down, you'll get their faster."

He had a very good sense of humor. One of the funniest things that jump to mind is an experience I had with him during a fairly recent shopping excursion. There was a very young sales clerk working the fragrance counter in a local discount/drug store. The store was crowded and he had to wait in line to get assistance. When it finally became his turn to be helped, he looked the young clerk square in the eyes with a very serious look on his face and said, "I need some Sex Appeal." The entire line busted-up as did the sales clerk who told him, "Don't we all." My dad then smiled and pointed to the product that was indeed called "Sex Appeal by Jovan." My dad swore that this fragrance gave him an irresistible odor, but I feel that it repelled more women than it attracted.

In 1999, after some problems with congestive heart failure, he was diagnosed as needing a mitral heart valve replacement. The procedure was performed in February of 2000 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. Ultimately, the opponent that he could not beat was pancreatitis. On June 21, 2003, he was rushed to the hospital after complaining of upper abdominal pains. After a grueling 12-day battle, he surrendered to the enemy (which was sepsis brought on by acute pancreatitis) at 5:57 PM on July 3, 2003.

I have countless fond memories of my dad, who I will sorely miss.

written by David Hotchkiss

Photo taken in approximately 1950.


1955 (photo from Calvin Wilkinson).


My mom (Patricia Coleman) and my dad at their wedding in 1956.


My dad holding my older brother, Rex, Jr. with my mom in about 1958.


At my wedding in 1983.

My dad holding my daughter in 1990.

My dad on June 9, 2002.