Visitation for Eugene Lester will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, June 2, 2017 at Warren McElwain Mortuary. Eugene Edward Lester lived and died on his own terms. He was six months away from his fiftieth birthday when he succumbed to injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident last Saturday night in Lawrence.
Gene was born in Houston, Texas on November 25th, 1967 to Robert and Linda Lester, but grew up near Cut-n-Shoot, Texas on the edge of the Big Thicket. The family relocated to Lawrence in the summer of 1978, where he attended Elementary and Jr. High, graduating in 1986 from Lawrence High School.
Gene enlisted in the Army, where he was an artilleryman. He earned his airborne and air assault wings, served in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, deployed to U.S. Army Jungle Operations Training Battalion, Fort Sherman, Panama, and eventually served several years in Germany. While in the service, he married Shelly Borland of Lawrence, who joined him in Germany. During that time he witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall. They had a son, Jake Robert, and lived in Lawrence after he was honorably discharged, SPC E-4. He installed utilities for J.W. Willis Construction in the Northeast Kansas area for several years, worked at K-Mart distribution, erected steel framed buildings, and then joined the family business, The Etc. Shop, as a bookkeeper. Although their marriage did not survive, Gene gained a stepdaughter, Kameron Teehee of Lawrence, who he hoped to someday escort down the aisle.
In 2012, he purchased several acres of overgrown bottom land traversed by Baldwin Creek from a close friend. He proceed to clear brush to shape it into a “park like setting,” which he christened “Long Branch Ranch.” He constructed a limestone low water bridge across the creek. He was endlessly fascinated with the way it responded to rain events, changed course, deposited sand bars, and swept uprooted trees along like so many matchsticks. A log full of pages of detailed notes and over ten gigabytes of photos and videos documented this project.
When asked, family and friends emphasized his loyalty, generosity, and integrity. He was “always there to help whomever, whenever, often dropping whatever he had going on to help someone else out.” He was preceded in death by his paternal and maternal grandparents, his favorite great aunt, Ellen Gregg, and her husband, Ed—after whom he modeled himself in so many ways. He is survived by his parents Linda and Robert, his sister Cyndy, his brother Hugh, Shelly, Kameron, and Jake.
Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Charity of the Donor’s choice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Online condolences may be posted at warrenmcelwain.com.