November 15, 2004
"Dolphin Rex" Would Have Been 40 Today
Daniel Lawrence "Rex" Kahler would have turned 40 today and probably would have had a great party to celebrate the occasion, if he wasn't off hiking up some distant mountain instead!
Sadly, Rex won't be having that 40th birthday party, because we lost him on September 3, 1995, in a swimming accident at Yosemite National Park in Northern California. Rex slipped and fell in the Merced River above Nevada Falls, and was swept down the river and over the 594-foot waterfall. A pamphlet passed out at his memorial service on September 16, 1995, said, "In accordance with his long-standing wishes, Daniel 'Rex' was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea near San Diego, where he rejoined his dolphin friends." The pamphlet listed his nicknames as "Dolphin Rex," "World Walker," "Explorer" and "Volcano Stalker."
The photo above also is from that pamphlet. The text with it said "his nickname 'Dolphin Rex' was well-earned" and that the picture taken "at Sea World shows how dearly he loved dolphins -- and how they returned that love." At the memorial service, the picture on the right had been printed on a big sheet of paper with large white spaces on each side. All of Rex's friends signed it and then his family generously mailed laminated copies to us. They said the photo was the last one taken on the roll of film they found in Rex's camera, so it must have been shot very soon before he died.
I had met Rex at a party thrown by Miah Earn back in 1992. He joined my Pro-Harold.cts.com BBS as user DolphinRex and attended some dinner parties the BBS members held in those years. A few months before his death, Rex also gave me my first CD player, which was an ancient one of his that had a tray you pulled completely out of the unit then filled with five discs. CDs had been around for over 10 years by then, so even if it was old, I was thrilled to have the machine because it brought me into the modern era of music! Eventually I started finding tiny little ball bearings on my floor, though, and I realized they were falling out of the CD player, so I had to stop using it, but it served me well for a couple of years.
There is a memorial fund in Rex's name. Money raised is used to increase visitor awareness of the dangers of the Yosemite waterways through signs and educational programs. If you'd like to contribute, the address is: Rex Kahler Memorial Fund, c/o Yosemite Association, P.O. Box 545, Yosemite, CA 95389.