WALNUT – Lester Lee Meisenheimer, 86, passed away on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at Heritage Manor in Walnut, with his wife at his side, and among caring nurses and aides. The oldest son of Loyal and Marjorie (Wirth) Meisenheimer, he was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
Lester attended Bureau Township grade and high schools, graduating salutatorian of his class in 1953. The following year, employed as school secretary/bookkeeper, he accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord. The led him to attend Fort Wayne Bible College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, graduating with honors and a degree in missions. Lester married Sharon Carlson on June 22, 1958 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Manlius. Called by God as a missionary to northwestern Ecuador, South America, Lester, his wife, and family served the Chachi Indian tribe, Afro-Ecuadorians, mestizos, and Spanish descendants during a period of 37 years. Known as “Don Miguel,” he was a respected mentor, counsellor, and leader in an impoverished and isolated area of the country.
Lester did not know a stranger and had an infectious laugh. He performed a complex list of jobs: preacher, Bible teacher, assistant to his wife running a medical clinic, occasional field director of the mission, fix-it man (anything from outboard motors to generators to muzzle-loading shotguns), and a builder who led in the construction of at least 15 mission buildings. He was a government liaison helping the local inhabitants with land titles, citizenship papers, and agricultural projects.
Retiring to Bureau County in 1996, he was actively involved with area churches, youth activities, immigrant workers, and bible studies with Spanish speaking communities. He served as Bureau Township clerk for many years. Lester was also inducted into the Walnut Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame. With the help of a neighbor and young people, he cleared the overgrown, rural cemetery where his great-grandfather and family are buried.
Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Sharon Meisenheimer of Walnut; two sons, Timothy (Tracey) Meisenheimer of Albuquerque, NM, and Joel (Lauren) Meisenheimer of Grass Valley, CA; two grandchildren, Sarah (Zachary) Ross of Tucson, AZ, and John (Karissa) Meisenheimer of Albuquerque, NM; two great granddaughters, Kari and Zaya; one brother, Charles (Shirley) Meisenheimer of Walnut; three sisters-in-law, Karen and Carolyn Meisenheimer, both of Walnut; and Eileen Carlson of Scottsdale, AZ; and nieces and nephews.
Lester was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Jay and Fred Meisenheimer; one sister, JoAnn Meisenheimer; one brother-in-law, Terrell Carlson; two young daughters, Connie Lynn and LuAnn Kay; nephew, David Meisenheimer; and two nieces, Colleen and Collette Carlson.
A memorial has been established in Lester’s name at the Bureau Township Community Church, 19126 Walnut-Wyanet Rd, Princeton, IL 61356. Immediate private interment will be followed by memorial service to be scheduled at a later date.
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Bureau Township Community Church
19126 Walnut-Wyanet Rd, Princeton IL 61356