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The Last Sortie

[Photo] Paul Frances Lester (776)

Paul Frances Lester, 776th

21 December 2004

[Photo] Paul Frances Lester (776)

   Paul Frances Lester, 79, of Dover, New Hampshire passed away peacefully on Tuesday, 21 December 2004, following a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease. Paul had been a resident of Dover for more than 40 years.
   He was the son of the late Warren Lester and the late Elizabeth (Bresnahan) Lester, and he was raised in Manchester. He was a graduate of both Manchester Central High and Plymouth State College.
   In the summer of 1943, prior to starting his senior year in high school, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and trained as an aerial gunner. During WWII, he served with the 15th Air Force, 464th Bomb Group, 776th Bomb Squadron, and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. As a combat crewmember of the B-24 bomber named "Lady Esther," operating out of Pantanella Air Base in Italy, he completed 35 sorties and 58 missions against Axis targets in Germany, Romania, France, Austria, Yugoslavia and occupied Italy. During his tour of duty he was awarded three Air Medals in addition to other ribbons and awards.
   Following the war he continued his studies, completing his high school diploma and earning a college degree. Following his graduation from college, he went on to a career with the Public Service Company of New Hampshire, where he worked for 30 years, primarily at the Schiller generating station in Portsmouth.
   He enjoyed a variety of hobbies that included photography, travel, rug braiding and playing an electronic organ he had built himself. He also took great pleasure and satisfaction in the work associated with heating his home with a wood fire for more than 30 years. During his retirement, he especially enjoyed spending a month or more each year driving around the country attending air shows and visiting friends.
   He was a member of St. Joseph's parish in Dover, where he was an usher for more than 20 years. He was proud to be a life member of the Air Force Association, and a member of the National Rifle Association.
   Paul was an incredibly gentle, kind and generous human being, who is missed by all who knew and loved him. He always had time to talk, never spoke ill of anyone, and would do what he could to help others. According to his younger brother, he and Paul never had a disagreement, even as children.
   Despite much adversity, Paul remained the greatest optimist, confident in his faith, with a deep love for God and Jesus. The Alzheimer's disease robbed him of his memory, but it never took away his love for others, his smile, his sense of humor or his laugh.
   He leaves behind his son, Peter, and his beloved granddaughter, Veronica. Veronica, when learning to speak, would call him Pee Paw instead of grandpa. Pee Paw became a moniker he was proud of, and never wanted changed. Additional survivors include his younger brother, Donald Lester, and his family of Nashua; his niece, Marilyn Amodeo, and her family from Salem, Mass.
   He was predeceased by his half brother, George Tustin, of Lynn, Mass., and his former wife, Barbara M. Lester of Somersworth.
   During the course of his illness, he and his family received help and assistance from the most wonderful people at Strafford County Homemakers, Wadleigh House, Riverside Rest Home, and Seacoast Hospice.
   A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 5 January 2005, at St. Joseph's Church, Dover. Reverend Robert F. Cole, pastor, officiated.
   Memorial contributions may be made to Riverside Rest Home, 276 County Farm Road, Dover, NH 03820; Seacoast Hospice, 662 Central Ave., Dover, NH 03820 or Strafford County Homemakers, 215 Rochester Hill Road, Rochester, NH 03867-1701.
   Arrangements by Wiggin-Purdy-McCooey-Dion Funeral Home, 655 Central Ave., Dover.

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