Mrs. Helen Louise Lester, a lifelong resident of Jackson County, passed away peacefully at home on Monday, February 25, 2013 at the age of 91 after a short illness.
The only child of William and Maude Miller Gatchel, Helen was born on July 5, 1921 in Millwood, WV.
In 1941 Helen graduated from Ravenswood High School and then attended the Charleston School of Commerce. On July 3, 1945 she married Robert Carl Lester, the only son of Harry and Mary Lester of Ripley. Bob was a 1941 graduate of Ripley High School and a 1945 graduate of the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy. Bob joined his father, also a pharmacist, in the business following his graduation. Helen worked in the pharmacy for 37 years, working first as a clerk three years prior to her marriage to Bob. Helen and Bob were special partners in business and in marriage. Helen worked as the financial comptroller, while Bob served as the pharmacist at the Rexall Drug Store in Ripley. Many Jackson County residents remember fondly the marble top soda fountain with the “famous hot fudge sundaes and sodas.” During their 62 year marriage and following their retirement in 1972, Helen and Bob, had a passion for traveling across the world including sites in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, Mexico, Nova Scotia, and South America.
Helen and Bob were also active in community affairs. They were members of St. John’s Episcopal Church for 50 years. Helen was a member and past president of the Ripley Junior Women’s Club and the Pharmacy Auxiliary and Hospital Auxiliary. Bob was a board member of the City National Bank (formerly the Bank of Ripley); a member and past president of the Ripley Rotary Club and a member of the Parkersburg Board of Pharmacy. Helen and Bob belonged to Greenhills Country Club, where Bob even made a “hole in one ” during one round. Helen and Bob hosted a foreign exchange student, Minna Laitenen, from Finland, whom they both spoiled and adored.
Bob passed away at the age of 83 in June 2007. Following his death Helen established the Helen and Bob Lester Community Fund at the Jackson County Community Foundation as a legacy gift to honor her late husband and as a way to “give back” to the community that had been a life-long home to them and had supported their Rexall Drug Store for so many years. Their legacy gift will support youth scholarships and fund community organizations with grants for the many needed projects to benefit all of Jackson County for many years to come. Helen hoped her actions would encourage others to also contribute to this community that she and Bob loved.
Helen is survived by all of her dear friends in Jackson County and across the country and a very long-time friend, Dawn Myers Layne and her husband Tom Layne of Ripley and their children: Ryan Thomas Layne of Huntington, WV; Evan Alexander Layne of New York, NY; and Vaughn Layne Babbitt (Cameron) of Morgantown, WV. The Layne family was especially blessed to have Helen in their lives and will deeply miss her. Helen was especially grateful for the “lovely ladies” who took special care of her following her fall and partial hip replacement in November 2012 and during the twilight of her life. They included Betty, Angie, and Comfort Keepers (Lilo, Karen, Isabella, Arianna, and Sheryl). Helen was also thankful to Amedysis Healthcare and especially Monica Lanham of HospiceCare for support during her final days.
Page 2 of 2 - A Celebration of Life service will be held at 10:30 a.m on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Waybright Funeral Home in Ripley. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. A reception for all of Helen’s friends will be held in her memory at the Family Center of the funeral home at the conclusion of the service from 11 a.m. until noon. Burial will follow the reception at Pine Hill Cemetery in Ripley. Online memories and condolences may be sent by visiting www.waybrightfuneralhome.com. Send donations in Helen’s memory American Heart Association at Association National Center 7272 Greenville Avenue Dallas, TX 75231