RIPLEY - On February 25, Jackson County lost a generous community supporter. When Helen Lester passed away, she gave the community a valuable gift.

A legacy gift, planned gift in the Lester estate, will now establish the Bob and Helen Lester Community Fund at Our Community's Foundation. This unique fund was created by Helen Lester during her life time to honor her late husband and give back to the community that has been their lifelong home. The new fund will work in conjunction with the foundation's Community Action Grant Program to address the local needs by issuing substantial community grants each year to benefit the Ripley area.

"What a wonderful way to honor two people who have given so much to our community – an endowed fund that will forever support the community they love by annually addressing the needs of people who live here," commented Jane Winters, Our Community's Foundation Regional Manager of Affiliates.

Bob and Helen Lester lived and worked in Ripley most of their lives. Bob Lester, who passed away in June 2007 at the age of 83, was a pharmacist and he and Helen operated The Rexall Drug Store in Ripley for 34 years. Most Ripley residents who grew up here considered The Rexall Drug Store as a "permanent fixture" in the county seat. Many remember it fondly as was the only drug store in town with a marbled top soda fountain which featured the "best hot fudge sundaes and sodas for miles".

Bob Lester graduated from Ripley High School in 1941 and from West Virginia University School of Pharmacy in 1945. He joined his father, Harry Lester, in the business following his college graduation. Helen Lester worked at the drug store for 37 years, working there as a clerk three years before her marriage to Bob. The Lesters sold The Rexall Drug Store to Rite Aid in 1972 and then enjoyed several years of retirement traveling across the world. The couple was married for 62 years.
In addition to their business involvement, the Lesters were very active in the community. They were members of Saint John's Episcopal Church for 50 years. Bob was a board member for City National Bank (former Bank of Ripley); a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Ripley; and a member of the Parkersburg Academy of Pharmacy. Helen was a member and past president of the Ripley Junior Women's Club. Bob was an avid golfer and the couple also enjoyed membership at Greenhills Country Club.

Before her death Helen Lester commented, "A community foundation is made up of funds established by the people of a community to serve the needs of the community's residents. I was pleased to establish this fund so I can give back to the community that supported us and our business for so many years. By working with the community foundation, I can be assured that long after Bob and I are gone, our gift will continue to support the community we love. I hope my legacy gift will encourage others to do similar things for our community."

Questions regarding this fund or any of the community foundation funds are directed to community foundation at 304-372-8588 or through email to The Jackson County Community Foundation is a regional affiliate of Our Community's Foundation, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and the regional affiliates of Doddridge, Jackson, Mason, and Ritchie Counties and the Little Kanawha Area (Wirt, Calhoun, and Gilmer Counties).