Mary Lester was born in Michigan City, Indiana and raised in Kinmundy and Salem, Illinois. Her mother was a Home Bureau member and her father was a Farm Bureau member. Mary attended a one room school with her three sisters, one was her twin. In 4th grade she learned to play clarinet from her teacher, and her career took off, playing along with her classmates, for the townspeople at the community center.
Mary attended Salem High School, where she joined Future Homemakers of America. In her senior year, she volunteered in the kindergarten class and taught sewing.
In 1951 Mary wed, Chester Lester, a young man from a neighboring family. Chester enlisted in the Navy and they traveled from state to state, settling in Wadsworth in 1966. Mary has three children, nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren, who make their homes in many states, including Alsaka, Minnesota (Minneapolis), and in Milwaukee and Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.
Mary’s pedigree in LCAHCE starts in 1966 when she moved to Wadsworth. She joined the Wadsworth Unit and when it disbanded she joined Gurnee Evening Unit. In 1991, Mary co-founded the Town & Country Unit, which meets in the afternoons. Mary was President of Town & Country from 1991 to 2007 and Vice President from 2007 to 2011.
Mary has served on the County Board as Public Information Chairman in 1988, President 1990, Community and Family Outreach Chairman 1996, By-Laws Committee Chairman 1998, Family Living Chairman 1999, First Vice President, 2007 to 2011. She has volunteered at many events, such as bake sales, craft fairs, cookbook sales, County Fair HCE booth and at The Lake County Fair booth.
Mary was a member of the Family Community Leadership team, which trained HCE members to give lessons to the Units, until the FCL program was terminated. She was an active member of ACWW and attended conferences in New Orleans, Little Rock, New Zealand and Australia. Mary has been very instrumental in 4H. Working at the County Fair, judging food preservation, including canning and drying foods and this year she judged the cake decorating contest.
Mary is an active member of the Farm Bureau and is President in charge of programs for the Prime Timers. Mary has also put in countless hours volunteering at the USO, at Great Lakes Naval Training Facility from 2001 to 2005.
Mary’s accomplishments are far from over. She returned to college after her children were grown and taught special needs children at SEDOL in Gurnee for eight years and then in Round Lake Schools until her retirement. Mary served on the Milburn School District Board, working on referendums addressing education and building issues. Mary belongs to the Milburn Church in Lake Villa and has served on the church board and was President of the “Ladies Aide Society”, along with the many volunteer hours she has given the church for fundraising events.
Mary’s newest ventures continue, she is serving on the Auction Committee at her church, received her Health Certificate and most importantly, Mary used a computer for the first time. Mary Lester, Renaissance woman, and proud member of LCAHCE.