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J. Lester Hooper

J. Lester Hooper J. Lester Hooper, age 87, of Manhattan, died January 27, 2021, at Ascension Via Christi Hospital. He was born March 7, 1933, in Horton, the son of John Lester and Anna (Saville)Hooper.

J. Lester grew up in St. Joseph, MO until 1943 when his family moved to Manhattan, KS. He attended Bluemont School, Manhattan Jr. High, and graduated from Manhattan High in the class of 1951. In 1956 he graduated from Kansas State Agriculture College in Industrial Arts Education and received his Master in Counseling from K.S.U. in 1969.
The first 2 years of J. Lester’s teaching career were at Keats High School where he also drove the school bus and refereed. He spent 10 years at Riley County High School as a teacher, counselor, bus driver, referee, and Student Council sponsor. The following 3 years he was a counselor at McKinley Middle School in Clay Center. During that time, J. Lester developed the federal model for WOW (World of Work) Career Education. His next 23 years were devoted to counseling opportunities at Manhattan Middle School. J. Lester enjoyed working with, helping, and encouraging youth. For over 45 years J. Lester taught Drivers Education part-time for R.C.H.S., M.A.V.T., and the Little Apple Driving School.

Service to our country was important to J. Lester. This was reflected in his service in the K.S.A.C. Air Force ROTC during college followed by 26 years serving in the Army Reserves and Kansas Army National Guard. During which time he attained the rank of Captain and taught OCS. J. Lester was on Active Duty for the Topeka Tornado and Colorado Wildfires.

In addition to J. Lester’s full-time jobs, he was an insurance salesman for the Union Central/Ameritas Life Insurance, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and U.C.T. companies. For a short period, he sold World Book Encyclopedia, Fountain Drink dispensers, and Amway.
Even though J. Lester lived in town his childhood chores included chopping wood, milking cows, and taking care of turkeys and chickens. During his early teen and college years, he worked at Bluemont School as a custodial assistant, Sunset Cemetery as a groundskeeper, volunteered in the 1951 flood cleanup, ran a concession stand in the City Park ball fields, played trumpet and tuba in the City Band, worked at a drugstore soda fountain, and worked construction helping to build the Phelps Addition houses.

In High school, J. Lester was a member of HiY, on the basketball and football teams, and Boy Scouts. During college, he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Sigma Theta Epsilon Christian Men, and Wesley Foundation. As an adult, J. Lester was active in Lions International, MAREA, AARP, KNEA, and UCT. He served on the Law Board, Teen Outreach board, RSVP, Little Apple Task Force, and various other organizations.
Until fifth grade, he attended the Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Joseph, MO. He was confirmed at the First M.E. Manhattan. During J. Lester’s adult life, he was a member of the Keats M.E. Church, Riley Methodist Church, Clay Center United Methodist Church, and First UMC of Manhattan. Growing up he sang in the children’s and youth choirs, attended MYF, church camps, and Sunday school. As an adult, J. Lester taught Sunday School class, was a youth leader, confirmand sponsor, greeter, head usher, served on a variety of committees, was a Lay Speaker, and oversaw the Dial-a-Prayer and Groceries for God programs.

He enjoyed singing with the Tuttleaires, the Little Apple Barbershop Chorus, and the Gospel Guys quartet. For many years he was the song leader for the local Lions club.
For over 52 years J. Lester enjoyed his volunteer job of being Santa for individuals, various daycares, the city of Riley, Manhattan Day Care, FUMC, and others. Any money J. Lester received from this he donated to other charities. J. Lester had a great sense of humor and enjoyed being a Lion Tail Twister. His hobbies and interests were electronic toys and model trains. He enjoyed collecting baseball caps, Santa items, model truck banks, and calling Bingo for the organizations he belonged to.

As a boy doing his chores, J. Lester would pretend to be a public speaker to the turkeys & chickens but progressed to speaking at Boys State, teaching, taking Dale Carnegie Speech courses, was a church Lay Speaker, and was often asked to be the master of ceremonies for different events.

J. Lester grew up in a Christian family and was a faithful church member all of his life. Daily devotions and participating in many Bible studies were important to him.
One of the best days of J. Lester’s life was meeting Olive Shoup at the Wesley Foundation. J. Lester was looking for a ping pong partner, and since Olive did not know how to play the game, he was pleased to teach her. As is often said of sweethearts the rest is history. J. Lester married Olive Shoup on May 1, 1954, at Wesley Foundation. As with many men of great renown, his bond with Olive was the foundation for his pursuits in work, civic, and charitable endeavors. Over their 66 years of marriage, they together modeled Christian faith, love, values, and service.

J. Lester was a wonderful father to their 5 children: Joy (Mike) Barnett of Scott City; Sherri Hooper of Manhattan; Wendy (Gary) Skrdlant of Manhattan; J. Lester Hooper, Jr. (Marcia Bahret [Bart]) of Valley Falls, and Terry Hooper of Manhattan. He adored and was adored by, his grandchildren Jennifer (Bill) Murphy of Scott City; Maranda Barnett of Scott City; Olivia (John) Lehmann of Westphalia; Jonathan Skrdlant of Topeka; Joseph Hooper of Irving, TX; Marisa Hooper (fiancé John King) of Englewood, OH; and great-grandsons Ashdynn and Kyzer Lehmann of Westphalia.

Proceeding him in death were his parents and his son, J. Lester Hooper, Jr. He is survived by his brothers George (Cornelia) Hooper of Washington, D.C. and Keith (Karen) Hooper of Northville, MI; and sister-in-law Norma (Dean) Lowell of Redwood City, CA; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
The family will have a private funeral and private graveside service with military honors. There is sadness at not being able to meet in person with J. Lester’s friends and extended family to share memories. All the thoughts, prayers, cards, and memories shared with the family via other communication methods will be greatly appreciated. May God be with you.

Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life. Jn 5:24

Private family services will be held at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Chapel with Reverend Kevin Larson officiating. Interment with military honors will follow in the Sunrise Cemetery in Manhattan. The funeral service may be viewed through the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home Facebook page at 10:00 A.M. Saturday, February 6th.

Family and friends are invited to pay their respects from 1:00 to 8:00 P.M. Friday, February 5th, at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home.

Online condolences may be left for the family by clicking on "Send Condolences" on this page.

Memorial contributions may be made to either the Manhattan Lions Club for eyeglasses, First United Methodist Church for Community Meals or Manhattan Christian College. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502.

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