Lester Arthur ‘Les’ Kier­sted Jr., 86, of Hurley

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES -

Lester Arthur “Les” Kier­sted Jr. died in the early morn­ing on Nov. 5, 2016 at HealthAl­liance Hos­pi­tal in Kingston, with members of his lov­ing fam­ily at his side.

Born Jan. 22, 1930, in Kingston to Kathryn (Di­ets) and Lester Kier­sted Sr., Les lived in Stone Ridge and at­tended the Vly-At­wood school­house un­til mov­ing to the fam­ily home­stead in Hurley when he was nine years old. He then at­tended the school­house on Lu­cas Av­enue Ex­ten­sion in Hurley and then Kingston High School.

Les en­listed in the U.S. Army in 1948 and trained as an In­fantry mor­tar­man at Fort Ben­ning, Ge­or­gia. Ini­tially assigned to the 3rd In­fantry Divi­sion, Les vol­un­teered for and at­tended Air­borne School and was assigned to the 187th Air­borne In­fantry Reg­i­ment, 11th Air­borne Divi­sion at Camp Camp­bell, Ken­tucky. He jumped from the first plane he ever was in, with a para­chute he had packed him­self. In ad­di­tion to his cov­eted “jump wings,” Les also earned a Glider badge. Les com­pleted his en­list­ment early af­ter be­ing of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn home and serve in the Army Re­serves, which were be­ing re­or­ga­nized in 1950. He was among the ini­tial cit­i­zen-soldiers who mus­tered for A Com­pany, 854th En­gi­neer Bat­tal­ion, in 1950.

On May 20, 1951, Les mar­ried Ar­lene June McGin­nis in a sim­ple wed­ding cer­e­mony. At­ten­dants were Shirley Parslow Mick and Martin Oberkirch. Ar­lene died on July 17, 2008.

Les and Ar­lene lived and worked at Mo­honk Moun­tain House dur­ing their first year of mar­riage. Les drove guests in horse-drawn coaches and did other work as needed, in­clud­ing wood cut­ting and ice har­vest­ing. Les worked a va­ri­ety of jobs dur­ing his life­time, most no­tably work­ing as a whole­sale route driver at Bab­cock’s Dairy and later Silver Lake Dairy. He had also worked at Forst’s Meats in Kingston and Guar­an­tee Auto Parts. Les was also the pro­pri­etor of the Kier­sted Ranch Sad­dle Shop dur­ing the 1950s and 1960s. He trained and boarded horses at the home­stead and led trail rides, while main­tain­ing his full-time job at the dairy.

In 1970, Les sur­vived a life-al­ter­ing bout with can­cer, which re­quired the am­pu­ta­tion of his arm in or­der to sur­vive. He re­turned to work at Silver Lake Dairy shortly there­after and be­gan learn­ing the adap­tive skills he needed to con­tinue pur­su­ing a hard day’s work. Les re­tired from ac­tive em­ploy­ment, but not from hard work, in 1973, af­ter los­ing his eye to can­cer.

Les spent the rest of his life pur­su­ing a mul­ti­tude of in­ter­ests on his beloved farm. He tended a gar­den, raised a va­ri­ety of live­stock to feed the fam­ily, and prac­ticed sound for­est man­age­ment while har­vest­ing an en­vi­able amount of fire­wood each year. At the time of his pass­ing, he was still a woods­man, split­ting and stack­ing wood to keep his house warm.

Be­sides his par­ents and Ar­lene, Les was pre­de­ceased by life­long friend Matthew Pisano, who pro­vided a great deal of moral sup­port, and adap­tive in­ven­tions that greatly im­proved his life. For these gifts of true friend­ship, Les was most grate­ful.

Lester is sur­vived by his four chil­dren: Les­lie Kier­sted (Tom Rossi), Bing­ham­ton, N.Y.; Mon­ica Leonardo, (Michael), Hurley; Jody Kier­sted (Lisa), Kingston; and Wayne Kier­sted (Bobbi), Hurley. He is also sur­vived by grand­chil­dren: Jo­ce­lyn Chouinard, Jes­sica Rossi, Daniel Freer, Han­nah Kier­sted, Ka­cie Kier­sted and Sarah Kier­sted. A num­ber of nieces and neph­ews also sur­vive.

Lester is also sur­vived by Martin “Marty” Oberkirch, a true life­long friend who of­fered help of­ten, know­ing Les would not ask for it.

As his fi­nal act of grace­ful gen­eros­ity, Les has do­nated his phys­i­cal re­mains to Albany Med­i­cal Col­lege in the hope that he could pay back to the med­i­cal com­mu­nity, which saved his life.

A me­mo­rial ser­vice is planned and will be an­nounced at a later date.

Lester’s fam­ily sug­gests that his mem­ory be hon­ored by ran­dom acts of kind­ness.

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