Lester Delbert Mudgett went to meet his Lord on April 27, 2023, after a wait of almost 106 years. He died at home with his daughter Esther and son-in-law Clifford Willmarth, near Halfway, Oregon. He was born in a homestead cabin on the prairie of Montana on May 27, 1917 to Dale G. and Laura Mae (Forbes) Mudgett. Lester was very proud of being descended from the Forbes clan. He had two older sisters, Hazel and Edna, and one younger sister, Nina. They were all a silly fun-loving bunch but all devoted to their GOD. All of that generation are now deceased.
When Lester was five years old, they moved back to South Dakota, where most of his relatives lived. His father raised horses and cattle. Lester and his sisters went to a private Christian School, while their father studied to be a minister. His father later started three churches, one in South Dakota and two in Keizer, Oregon where they also farmed. His grandfather John Ross Forbes, had a fur house in South Dakota. When Lester was 10 years old, his grandfather started him on a trapline and bought all his furs. He trapped until he was 17, then he came to Oregon to live with an aunt and Uncle, then convinced his folks to move to Oregon in 1937.
When they came to Oregon, there was a great need for fruit and hop pickers. Lester met Rosie (Rose Marie Schmaltz) while picking prunes. They married in 1939 and moved to Alpine, Oregon to work on a turkey ranch where their first child Ester Rose Mudgett (Willmarth) was born. After many moves and many jobs, they had three more children, a son Lester Ross and daughters Virginia Bell (Wilken) and Charlotte Ann (Nelms). Eventually all the children married and there came 5 grandchildren, many great grandchildren and many, many great, great great granddaughter Aria Rose, making 6 generations for 2 months before his passing. Rosie played the piano while Lester played the guitar, button accordion, harmonica and fiddle and they both sang. Our home was always filled with music. Rosie died in 2015 after nearly 76 years of marriage.
Later in life, Lester became a much sought-after gunsmith and carved beautiful wooden gun stocks. He was also the family “Mr. Fix It”. If he couldn’t fix it, it couldn’t be fixed. He carried on the family tradition of storytelling of his adventures. This writing only hits the highlights of his life which would take at least a thousand more stories. He never preached, but showed loved by good example. His last word, “Pray.”
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