Les once said he would like his epitaph to read: “I have finished my work and gone home”. And what wonderful “work” he has done as a son, father, husband, friend and colleague. Lester died peacefully surrounded by love on May 11, 2018 at age 86. Every day we both said “thank you” to God for His “miracle” of December 2014 and have felt so blessed for all these extra days.
Born in Marshfield, Wisconsin in 1931, Les was the first of 9 children of Helen and LaVon Chapman. He grew up on a rural Wisconsin farm, went to a one-room school house and attended University Of Wisconsin LaCrosse.
Les was an amazing, special and talented man, beloved by so many. He jumped out of airplanes for the U.S. Army 11th Airborne Unit but after discharge in 1953, as a civilian, got his pilot’s license, preferring to fly rather than jump out of airplanes.
He was a proud IBMer for 35 years, mostly in Richmond, Va. In 1984 IBM expanded to Boca Raton and brought Les along, until his retirement in 1989. Then in 1993 he graduated from Palm Beach Community College with a degree in Nursing. As a Registered Nurse he worked in Oncology for 5 years in Boynton Beach but then found his ultimate calling with Hospice of Volusia/Flagler. He always said that his patients gave him so much and he felt blessed to be able to help them in their final journey.
Les liked to play too. He was an accomplished athlete: playing Baseball (with the Army and later on in the Senior League); playing Golf (loved it even though it was not his best sport); playing Tennis (and a proud owner of the coveted IBM Watson Trophy – he has three, the last one in mixed doubles with his wife Judy); learning to play Shuffleboard (a “later in life” endeavor which he was able to play almost to the end); Skiing (in the glorious powder snow in Utah, several times a week during his 2 year IBM assignment there); Scuba Diving (off the Florida Keys and in Cozumel); Bicycling (for speed on his 6 mile route for aerobic fitness, and later buying a recumbent 3-wheeler so he could continue to ride); Fishing (especially at the National Seashore, Beach 3, with tennis friends ).
Growing up Les Painted: houses with his father and then became an “artist” in oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolor and pencil, especially enjoying classes with the Artists’ Workshop in New Smyrna Beach.
Les married Jean Bunker in 1954 and has 2 children, daughter Leslie (Steve) and son Paul (Kelly) and grandson, Bradley. Les married Judy Stark in 1984 and her 2 daughters, Susan (Alan) and Beth (Chris) became his children too. Cooper is his newest grandson.
Les was a kind and gentle man with a huge heart and a beautiful smile. He always saw the best in people and touched so many lives with his kindness and generosity. Those who knew him will surely miss him and can take comfort in knowing he will continue to watch over us.
He was a very spiritual soul, and when he said “I will keep you in my prayers” he really meant it. He said his prayers every night and sometimes his list was very long.
A funeral mass will be held June 2nd at 10:00 am at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in New Smyrna Beach. Family and friends are invited to attend this Celebration of Life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Halifax Health Hospice.