LESTER PALMER WHITE passed away on March 21, 2020 after 86 years of a life well lived.
Lester was born on April 12, 1933 in Kemper County to Joe Leslie White, Sr. and Myrtle Palmer White. Growing up on the family farm, Lester developed a strong work ethic and a knack for agriculture at an early age. He cultivated his farming interest at Mississippi State College (Mississippi State University) where he studied agriculture. He was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in May 1956.
Upon graduation, Lester was immediately drafted to serve in the Korean War. During his basic training he attracted the attention of his superiors for his excellence as a marksman and his towering height. While with the 520th Military Police Company he was chosen to serve as the guard for General Norstad at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) in Paris, France in April 1957.
After a year of service, Lester was called home to care for his ailing mother who was quick to introduce him to her nurse, Martha Nelson. It was a match, and Lester and Martha married on August 1, 1958. They settled in Dekalb, MS where they raised two children and farmed cattle, hogs and trees. Lester managed the local hardware store and later established the Kemper County Co-op, where his agricultural expertise and business ethics earned him great respect among his peers. He served as a Master Mason in good standing with the Grand Lodge of Mississippi for over 60 years, was recognized as a Century member of the Boy Scouts, and was an active member of New Hope Methodist Church. He led by example, careful to never speak ill of others, but calling out the good in them, quietly serving those around him without need for recognition or applause.
Dependable, trustworthy and kind, he was a man who prioritized people over things. His gentle and quiet spirit won him the affection and admiration of many, and to those who knew him best, he was an exceptional teacher, storyteller, confidant and friend. Lester was a great steward of all God entrusted to him: the land, animals, and the people around him. He was beloved by his grandchildren and was a steadfast presence in their lives; be it in the bleachers, on the sidelines, at birthday parties, graduations, weddings and beyond. Full of wisdom and useful knowledge, he taught his children and grandchildren many practical skills like saddling a horse, welding, gardening, ranching, and mechanics. However, it was watching him take care to treat others well and choosing to do even the smallest of things with integrity, that he imparted the most valuable of lessons.
His compassion and gentleness were on full display until the very end, spending his final years as a faithful and loving caretaker to his lifelong partner and best friend, Martha. With his passing, he leaves a void but more importantly an exceptional legacy and blueprint of a life well-lived. His kind, gentle and humble spirit will leave an indelible imprint on the lives of his family and community.
Lester was preceded in death by his infant daughter Rebecca Ann White and his three sisters Effie Sawyer, Mary Alice Stinemetz, and Dorothy Madison. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Martha White, his son Johnny White (Suzanne) and daughter Debbie Horn (Victor), and by his eight grandchildren Vic Horn (Meredith), Drew Horn (Brittany), Johnathan White (Deanna), Garth Horn (Mary Leigh), Janice Bishop (Cory), Laura Jones (Justin), Jordan White, and Nathan White, and by his 12 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his beloved younger brother, Joe Leslie White (Billie).
Private graveside services were held March 23rd Pine Crest Cemetery.
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