Ronald L. Lester

Born: Tue., Dec. 16, 1941
Died: Sun., May 1, 2011

Memorial Service

1:00 PM Sun., May 15, 2011
Location: Cleveland Rd. Location

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 Ronald L. Lester

December 16, 1941May 1, 2011


Ronald L. Lester, 69, of South Bend, left this life at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, May 1, 2011, in his residence following an illness.  He is survived by his wife, Jill (Nappier); mother, Rena L. Lester of Littleton, CO; sisters, Bonnie Kuhns (Carlyle) of Goshen, IN and Christy Halley of Littleton, CO; brother, David S. Lester (Karen) of Dinosaur, CO; 14 nieces and nephews; and 15 great-nieces and nephews. 


A celebration of Ron’s life will be held from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Sunday, May 15th, in the Welsheimer Family Funeral Home North, 17033 Cleveland Rd., South Bend.


The family requests that contributions in memory of Ron be made to The Center for Hospice Care, 111 Sunnybrook Ct., South Bend, IN, 46637.  Family and friends may leave e-mail condolences at 



Ron married Jill (Nappier) Lester on November 16, 1963.  He worked for Mishawaka Farmer’s Dairy. He delivered milk products to his customers from his milk truck, running to their doors and moving on to his next customer to assure each one had their desired products on hand.  He worked for DuBois Chemical Company and then Chem-Lube Corporation until 1991 when he and Ray Hankins, (Indianapolis, IN) formed their own company, Yarnor, Inc.  They manufactured, sold and serviced industrial, transportation and waste-water chemicals.  They sold Yarnor, Inc. to Enerco Corporation (Grand Ledge, Michigan) in 2007.  Ron continued to sell and service the needs of his customers for Enerco Corporation.  He loved to solve problems in the field and was dedicated to his customers and the challenges of their needs.


Ron was an avid runner and track star in high school. In 1960, he won the sectional mile in 4:40 for Mishawaka High School.  He continued to run for years and was committed to his schedule of running.  He later had a goal of running just one full marathon with a specific finish time in mind.  He trained and ran the 3rd County Heart Marathon, Chicago, IL, April 24 1983, with a finish time of 2 hours and 48 minutes, meeting his goal.


Ron was always kind to his parents and helped them in any way possible.  Ron gave flowers to his mother each year on his birthday.  He felt his mother did all the work for his birth and felt it was she who deserved the celebration.  Ron was always willing to help Jill’s parents and quietly tended to tasks with no falderal.  He did not deal in trivialities.  He did not require praise or recognition.


On the first anniversary of his marriage, he presented Jill with one white rose to represent their first year of marriage.  He continued to give a white rose for each year of their marriage and on November 16, 2010, he presented Jill with 47 white roses.  He never missed the date and his tradition nor did he expect praise or thanks.  It was important to him to give this gift from his heart.


Ron was self-taught with purposeful goals.  He water skied in tournaments and was the Indiana state champion slalom skier.  He also was a certified tournament ski-boat driver and pulled his boat to tournaments, drove for events and skied in his events.  He was

an accomplished snow skier with picture-perfect natural style.  He enjoyed “heli” skiing and powder skiing.


Ron was quoted in an interview by saying: “I think a lot of sports are just determination, sheer desire and being able to handle a certain discomfort level”.


In 1972, Ron taught himself to sail.  He always had a passion for the water and was an excellent swimmer.  He began racing his sailboats in competitive sailboat races which released his extreme passion for sailing and racing.  He became the ultimate sailor and the eternal seaman, which became applicable to everything in life. 


In 1977, he and a co-owner worked with boat designers and a boat was built in Bristol, Rhode Island.  The boat was named “Chocolate Chips”.  It was made of western-cut cedar and teak and was a “3/4 Ton” 33-foot sailboat.  They raced the boat throughout the United States and Canada.  Chocolate Chips was Boat of the Year in Chicago in 1977 and placed 2nd in the Nationals in 1977, in Marblehead, MA.  They won 1st place in the North American Nationals in 1978 in San Diego, CA and were 3rd in the World Event in Victoria, British Columbia. Chocolate Chips was the 1st overall winner of all divisions in the Chicago to Port Huron, MI race in 1977 and the overall winner in 1979 in the Chicago to Mackinaw Island race.  Additionally, he won his own division of the popular Chicago to Mackinaw race several times.


Ron sailed the half-ton class sailboat “Toy Boat” to 1st place to win the Nationals for the half-ton series 2 years running in Toronto, Canada, in 1980 and 1981. 


Ron’s last boat was a J-24 affectionately named “rJ” and he won Boat of the Year in Michigan City, for many seasons; however, his goal was always to do his personal best.  Ron loved to mentor a person interested in sailing and racing and to watch their talents develop as they crewed on the races.


Ron was purposeful, and he set his goals and achieved them.  Everything he did was “measured”.  He was extremely competitive.  He took very little credit for any of his accomplishments.  He was extraordinarily loyal and lived life to the fullest packing so much into his shorter than desired years.  He had the privileged opportunity to sail on the USS Carl Vinson Air Craft Carrier from Honolulu, Hawaii to San Diego, CA with other civilians.  He was able to witness flight operations and all other maneuvers of the ship.  It was one of the highlights of his life. 


He was a hero to all those who knew him in his courageous battle with cancer. He left no stone unturned in his quest to conquer the disease.  He was non-complaining, and he adjusted his sails to the winds and challenges of life to achieve the maximum result.  He was imperturbable.  He was truly “Captain Courageous” and will be sorely missed but never forgotten.  His spirit will live on forever.








Charitable donations may be made in Ronald's memory to the following organization:

Center for Hospice and Palliative Care
111 Sunnybrook Court, South Bend, IN 46637

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Gary Emerson
   Posted Fri May 13, 2011
To Ron''s wonderful family

Caring and I would like to offer our deepest sympathy in the loss of your loved one. Ron was one of my dearest friends and he will be truely missed. I don''t believe I have ever known a more honest and caring person in personal or business life.

A true loss for family, friends and this world.

With our condolences,

Gary & Caring

Les and Beth Lamon
   Posted Tue May 17, 2011
Beth and I were very saddened to learn of Ron''s death. Our image of him will remain that of such an active person -- especially riding his bicyle in our neighborhood and on the surrounding roads. We are sorry to have missed the funeral celebration, but offer you our deepest sympathy. Les Lamon

Jeff Goff
   Posted Thu August 30, 2018
An interesting man. Glad to have known him and you Jill. Fair winds.

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