Human Interest


We’ve all known people whose hobby it was to collect things—baseball cards, stamps, coins, rare books, and on and on. The list of possibilities is endless! But have you ever known someone who collected continents, countries of the world, National Parks, or statehouses? Probably not. “Those are really unusual things to collect,” you say? Well, yes, they are, but not for this retired gentleman from Indianapolis whose collecting passion not only includes small items he can hold in his hand, but also those items so vast they can only be collected in lists. And many lists does he have!

His “hobby” began many years ago (fifty, to be exact) when he started attending different athletic events, e.g. the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and Indiana University football and basketball games. To remember an event, he started the habit of purchasing either an athletic department press guide, or the official program of the activity, or both. To give you a small glimpse of this man and his passion, he has collected press guides for I.U. football from 1971 to 2006, for I.U.  basketball from 1971 to 2021, for I.U. soccer from 1986 to 2005, and has the official program for the Indy 500 every year from 1946 to the present! That’s a total of 36, 51, 20, and 75 items! That’s unbelievable and we’re just getting started. 

In 2007, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in a popular movie titled “The Bucket List.” These two polar opposite men became good friends when they were roommates in the hospital where they both had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. They decided before “they kicked the bucket,” there were several things they needed and wanted to do so they made “a bucket list.” Their’s was a short list compared to the gentleman I’m writing about, but they had a short time left to live.

Instead of a single “bucket list” of 10 or so items, our subject has sixteen (16) bucket lists that each contain dozens of items. Unlike Freeman and Nicholson, this man had over 50 years to complete his lists, and in 2016, that goal was accomplished! I think it’s truly amazing. 

During my interview with this gentleman, I was repeatedly astounded at the number of different items he has collected and how he was able to store them, keep them from deteriorating, and find them when he needed to. He recited the facts, figures, and quantities of the things he has collected without giving it a second thought. Amazing, again. You will be amazed, too, so keep on reading; it’s fascinating.

This will take some doing, but I will go through each of the 16 bucket lists and share with you anecdotes related to some items on each list. I think you will find this as fascinating as I did. On travel-related items, he was always accompanied by his wife.

Bucket List 1: Set foot on all seven continents of the world. North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia were fairly easy, Australia required a very long flight, but Antarctica was a unique adventure. He and his wife took a cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost point in South America, to the the coastline of the continent. From deeper water, he took a “dinghy” that transported him to the “Chile Station” on the land. They spent an hour investigating that area of Antarctica, walking on snow-covered dirt and rocks, seeing distant mountains covered with snow, smelling hundreds of penguins in the locale, and shopping in the “gift shop” at the station. He had now been on all seven continents! How many of us can claim this accomplishment? I dare say not one!

Bucket List 2: Visit the capitals of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. He has been in every state capital building, and even had the privilege of meeting George Sinner, governor of North Dakota from 1985 to 1992. This list was completed years ago.

Bucket List 3: Stay overnight in the capital city of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This was accomplished long ago.

Bucket List 4: Attend a worship service in all fifty states. The unique experience here was in North Dakota at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park where he, his wife, and three National Park employees held their own outdoor service in the grandeur of that park.

Bucket List 5: Visit the campuses of all 45 Indiana colleges and universities. Accomplished years ago.

Bucket List 6: Visit the most populous city in all fifty states and stay overnight. Often the capital city is not the most populous so this required extra travel.

Bucket List 7: Visit the northernmost town/city/village in North America. He visited and stayed overnight in Barrow, Alaska, a community located 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It is treeless, barren, desolate, depressing, and had only one hour of darkness. Living expenses are very pricey. He flew in to Barrow from Prudhoe Bay, rented a 15-year old car for transportation, and stayed overnight in an 8-room motel. Barrow’s high school football team has to fly several hours for away games. Their field is artificial turf and is surrounded by guards to keep polar bears away. All home games were played by the end of September because of snow and cold temperatures after that date. The summer day of their visit it was 52°.

Bucket List 8: Visit and stay in the Southernmost city in North America. Key West—not a problem.

Bucket List 9: Run a race (foot race) in every county in Indiana—all 92 of them. Between May, 1978 to November, 1984, he accomplished this major feat! The distance of the race made no difference—long, short, up, down, road, or trail, he ran in 92 races. Ohio County in southern Indiana didn’t have a race so he organized one, and was able to attract 25 participants. This major accomplishment was acknowledged by a very complimentary article in the Indianapolis Star. 

Bucket list 10: Visit and stay overnight at the capital cities of the Canadian provinces that 

border the U.S. and Newfoundland—Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Quebec City, St. John’s

Bucket List 11: Drive the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  An absolutely beautiful, 550-mile, limited access, two-lane road that traverses through the mountains and scenic areas of several states in the southeastern U.S. 

Bucket List 12: Drive the entire length of the Alaska Highway starting in Anchorage, a distance of 1400 miles. This took two years (‘18 & ‘19) and two trips to accomplish. 

Bucket List 13: Visit all 51 National Parks in the lower 48 states. The last three of the NP’s were done within the last three years—New River Gorge NP in West Virginia, The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and The Dunes NP in northern Indiana. This was one of his favorite accomplishments.

Bucket List 14: Visit and witness a game at every Major League Baseball stadium. There are currently 30 Major League Baseball teams. He has visited 53 major league ball parks and attended a game in all 53 of them. That means he has been to old and new stadiums alike, e.g. 3 parks in Cincinnati for the Reds, 2 in Atlanta and 1 in Milwaukee for the Braves. He has visited 58 ballparks in all— 53 major league and 5 minor league ballparks.

Bucket List 15: Visit all 13 Presidential Libraries currently in existence. Visit all 38 Presidential burial sites. He has visited the libraries of every President from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush, and even the library of Rutherford B. Hayes. 

Bucket List 16: Visit the campus of all 14 Big Ten universities. If the conference keeps adding teams, his list will be amended. 

His collecting doesn’t stop there!

Other interesting things he collects and statistics he keeps are the following:

   He has attended 13 College Bowl games — he sat in 20° weather in Memphis at the Liberty 


   He has stayed overnight in the capital cities of the Yukon Terrotory (Whitehorse, Canada) 

      and the Northwest Territory (Yellowknife, Canada)

   He has stayed overnight in 800 cities worldwide

   He has stayed overnight in 56 different countries

   He has collected over 6000 pins commemorating the visit to some location or some

      accomplishment—that’s 6 thousand!

   He had a collection of basketball, baseball, football, Indiana University athletics, and

      Indy 500 cards that exceeded 60,000. Sixty-thousand! He has sold 20,000 of them this


   He learned in 2021 that his most-prized card, a 1986-‘87 Michael Jordan, was valuable when

      he sold it. 

   He has visited a State-supported university in all 50 states. 

   He has collected Mint Sets (proof sets) of commemorative Silver Coins.

   He has visited 575 college campuses!

   He donated his I.U. football press guides from ‘71-‘06 to the I.U. Athletic Department.

   He has “die-cast” replicas of four Indy 500 winners’ cars. Those replicas are Bill

      Vuckovich’s ‘54 car,  Bob Sweikert’s ‘55 car, Pat Flaherty’s ‘56 car, and Sam Hanks’ ‘57 car.

When you’ve been virtually everywhere, you undoubtedly identify favorite trips. His was the 10 days he and his wife spent in Viet Nam a few years ago. They stayed in both Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and Hanoi. He said he learned more on that trip, in that country, than from any other trip he had taken before. The people were very kind and friendly, most rode motorcycles, and he had to be certain to stay out of their way. His generation and mine have many memories of images from the Viet Nam war. How the country has transformed into a unified Communist-controlled society of 92 million people is a remarkable story. 

When I interviewed this man for my blog, he described himself as a little odd because of this somewhat unusual hobby. It is, indeed, unique, and maybe a bit odd, but I choose to describe him as eccentric rather than odd-ball. He is not an odd ball! He is unique! He is eccentric! You may say, “Isn’t this just like hoarding?” I say, “Absolutely not!” Collecting is not hoarding and differs in that his collections are neatly stored away in a specially built cabinet in his garage or displayed in a manner that avoids a messy and cluttered appearance. Additionally, he has donated, or sold, thousands of items from his collections, not a typical hoarding behavior. These are memorabilia of the things he loves, the places he’s been, the satisfaction of his curiosity, and the broadening of his wealth of knowledge. These items sharpen the memories of his experiences. His willingness to share his experiences with us is greatly appreciated, and impresses me more than I could ever imagine. 

I would suspect you can’t say you’ve seen, in person, every U.S. President from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama. Can you? That’s nine Presidents! He has!

His accomplishments are really remarkable. The closest I could come to him is a list of golf courses I’ve either seen or played. But that’s just one category and a much shorter list. It just shows you how much you can accomplish in fifty years if you have a plan, a passion for it, and really make an effort. 

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  1. Rex is truly a remarkable man. I recall an anesthesiologist from St Francis Hospital as having run a full marathon on all 7 continents.

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