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Lester's book to support Spencer-Penn

Sunday, November 11, 2012

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor

At 92, a local woman who long has been active in the community and charity has taken on a new role — that of author.

Louise Robertson Lester has published “Life, Love and Laugher,” a collection of rhymes (as she calls them) she wrote between the ages of 80 and 90.

The King’s Grant resident has earmarked all of the book’s earnings to benefit the Spencer-Penn Centre, which she long has supported.

The book is “made up of writings that I had in my computer,” she said. “If I see something in nature — I love to write.”

Her writings are jotted down here and there as thoughts strike her. “I don’t call it poetry,” she said. “I call it rhyming.”

“Whatever comes out, there’s never any thought of it being the proper way,” she added. “I just write from feelings. ... They were times of much pleasure I got from sitting, writing and thinking.”

Her nieces Sarah Kearney, Elizabeth Brown and Elaine Zopp urged her to publish her verses in one volume, she said.

One of her early verses won a Poetry of Merit award from the International Society of Poets in 2002 for “My Friend Whitman,” about Alice Ann Blevins’ dog, Whitman.

“My Friend Whitman” is in the book. Many of the selections are light-hearted verses in praise of nature or pets. Others are “very personal things,” she said, “very moving.” She thought they may be too close to the heart to share in a book, “but once I got in there, I thought it was part of what I have written” and belongs.

The greatest help and motivation in getting the book published was by Dr. Paul Jones of Bassett. “He thought it was unique,” she said.

Her cousin and good friend Irene Martin was going to help her, but she died just three months before the women would have begun, Lester said.

Paintings by Linda MacQueen Hill of Collinsville decorate some of the pages.

When the book was published, “I couldn’t believe it,” Lester said. “To me it’s not real. I never thought I would do it.”

It makes sense that Hill did not start writing until she was 80. “I did not write” before that, she said. “I had other things involved in my life.”

She grew up in Preston and went to school at Spencer-Penn. She studied bookkeeping and accounting at Bentley Business School and attended the Gassway Business College. She also studied interior design, architecture and art.

Her husband, Victor Lester, passed away when she was 59. She took on roles in the community. She is a member of the Lawn Society and Cornerstone Society at the University of Virginia. She serves on the Averett College’s Associate Board of Trustees, has served on the Patrick Henry Community Foundation board, where she remains an honorary board member, and she worked on the Stoneleigh Committee for Ferrum College. She was a founding member of the George Burton Scholarship through the Spencer-Penn Association.

She is part of First Baptist Church’s sanctuary committee and missionary society and has served on the board of Baptist Children’s Home in Salem. She is a recipient of the Golden Deeds Award from the Exchange Club and a supporter of the SPCA.

The Louise Lester Banquet Hall at the Spencer-Penn Centre is named after her.

“I’m just a country girl who’s been blessed to see a lot of this world,” she said.

Lester has written three children’s books, “Brave Ant,” “Tiny Butterfly” and “Two Angels.” She has not yet found an illustrator who can bring the characters and scenes to life on the page as she has imagined, she said.

“I can entertain myself on the computer,” she said. “I love doing research because that’s what keeps me in tune with the world.”

Book-signings and receptions will be held from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Spencer-Penn Centre and 2-4 p.m. Dec. 2 at the King’s Grant library. The book will be for sale at the center for $13.

Lester wanted to support the center because she was a student of Spencer-Penn School, which meant a lot to her, she said. She has been thrilled to see the school building get a second life as a community center. “I have a love for it,” she said.

“The work that Mary’s done with it, it’s just so exciting to me,” she said, referring to the center’s first executive director, Mary Jordan. “I admire her so much for her personality and spirit,” she added.


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