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