Ronald "Rex" Endres

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WAUNAKEE–Ronald (Rex) Gerard Endres of Waunakee passed away unexpectedly at age 64 on July 5, 2021.

Known to many as Rex, he was born on March 1, 1957, at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, to Laverne M. Endres and his wife Jeanette Ann (Wagner) Endres. He grew-up on the Endres family farm in rural Waunakee, and later was a 1975 graduate of Waunakee High School.

He married Debra Theresa Pulvermacher, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Robert and Bernadette (Annen) Pulvermacher, on Sept. 26, 1981, at St. Martin's Catholic Church in Martinsville with a reception held later that day at the Dorf Haus in Roxbury.

Rex learned his work ethic early, growing up on the family farm in the Waunakee area. During high school he began laying carpet and he later co-owned a local carpet business.

At the time of their marriage, he was a self-employed carpet installer and co-owner of H&R Carpets and Accessories in Waunakee, where Debbie also worked. It was a successful business that he and Howard Schwab started in 1980. Three years later, Schwab became sole owner as Rex branched into a different career endeavor. 

Sadly, Debbie passed away on July 27, 1985, as result of an accident in Springfield Corners the night before in which Rex and their two daughters survived. He later married Brenda Jean Fangmeier, the daughter of Frederick (Fritz) and Carolyn Fangmeier at St. John's Catholic Church in Waunakee on Sept. 22, 1990.

In 1988, Rex purchased The Innkeeper, which was built in 1972, from the previous owners, Edward H. Endres, Bernard C. Kuehn, Robert Wipperfurth, and Henry E. Zander. Through his hard work, it quickly became the Rex’s Innkeeper we know today. For 33 years, Rex showed up for work day and night to make sure his employees and customers were treated like family. He worked unimaginably long hours, but he never complained. No matter how busy he was, he always made time for everyone. 

Rex and the Innkeeper, a famed Waunakee restaurant, dance hall and meeting place, was awarded the 1993 Businessperson of the Year Award by the Waunakee community, and in 1996, the Innkeeper accepted the Orchid award. The venue was one of the most popular places in Dane County for wedding receptions and community events. Rex was first to step up with a donation, food, or whatever was needed.

"He was truly one of the best men I have ever known," said long-time employee Karen Haag. "I feel very blessed that he was in my life, and a lot of people feel that way. The community feels that way, and because of him, I know my life is richer."

Upon learning of Rex's sudden death, Shelley Joan Weiss of Sun Prairie, who formerly worked at the Waunakee School District, said “Rex and his entire family were always so kind and generous to me. Rex made a positive impact on everyone he interacted with. He was an exceptional model of what a friend, businessperson, and community contributor should be."   

Rex was a member of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, the Mendota Gridiron Club, Waunakee Chamber of Commerce, Waunakee Rotary and many other clubs and organizations. 

In addition to his wife of 31 years, Brenda, he is survived by his daughters, Rachael Zellner (Daniel) and Michelle Zirbel (Jordan), his sons, Austin and Jordan (Sydney); his grandchildren Lily, Grace, Ethan, Ava and Max; his siblings, Joan (Keith) Rademacher, Virginia (Vincent) Meinholz, William (Deborah) Endres, Susan (Donald) Schwartz, Charles (Darlene) Endres, Fred Endres, Howard (Lidia) Endres, and Scott (Melissa) Endres. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, and a community who loved and appreciated him.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Laverne (May 29, 1973) and Jeanette Endres (Aug. 3, 2008), and his first wife, Debra (Pulvermacher) Endres, and other relatives.

Funeral services were held on the morning of, July 13, 2021, at St John’s Catholic Church in Waunakee, with Msgr. James Gunn officiating. Winn-Cress Funeral Home of Waunakee assisted the family.

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