Dean Harding Kester, age 95, died peacefully at Vintage Park on
February 26, 2017. The son of Agnes (Kilgore) and Ernest Kester was
born December 28, 1921 on the family farm by Bridgewater. He grew up
attending country school, until 8th grade, along with his siblings.
Dean entered CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) at the age of 16, as a
caterpillar operator building terraces for soil erosion. He then
enlisted in the US Navy where he spent 6 years. He served everyday of
WWII. He was a 1st class gunners mate in charge of all artillery,
ammunition, and depth charges. Dean served on the Battleship USS
Idaho, the Cruiser USS Fargo, and Sub Chaser 1048 while traveling
along the Southwest Pacific, the North Atlantic, and the
Mediterranean. Dean was honored to be chosen as an Honorary Guard for
President Franklin D. Roosevelts funeral. As a veteran he traveled to
Washington DC on the Honor Flight, and was recently recognized by
Senator Joni Ernst and presented his WWII medals during a special
On February 1, 1945, Dean married his soulmate Leona Stalder. They
started their life together as a military couple and then came home to
farm in Adams County. Born to bless their lives were two sons, Ed and
Larry. Dean and Leona raised crops, hay, chickens, cattle, and pigs.
He sold 0s Gold seed corn and square bales as a side income. Deans
life revolved around his farmlife, family, and church. He served on
the ACSC and Coop board, as well as many years on the Stringtown
Church board. Dean and Leona enjoyed the harvest from their garden,
camping, fishing, traveling to listen to country music, playing cards,
and countless hours of rummikub. They were lifetime members of the
Stringtown Community Church. On September 2014 they were recognized
and honored for their dedication, service, and leadership to God and
the church family.
Deans family was his pride and joy. He loved to take his sons and
grandsons hunting and fishing. Being a grandpa was top priority. He
spent countless hours telling stories and teaching life lessons. He
kept busy with his hands building birdhouses, and doing carpenter work
around the farm. The legacy Dean leaves is the commitment, devotion,
care, and love that he shared with Leona for 72 years, as well as to
his country, his family, and his faith.
Left to cherish his memory are his two sons: Ed (Jan) and Larry
(Denise) Kester; six grandchildren: Bret, Brennan, and Curtis (Erin)
Kester, Kami (Sam) DeAlejandro, Rod Kester, and Darcy (Brad) Matheny;
seven great-grandchildren: Ryan and Zach Kester, Seth, Ethan, and
Daxton DeAlejandro, Evelyn and Nora Kester; one great-great grandchild JoLee
DeAlejandro; brother and sister-in-law: Bill (Dixie) Stalder, and Nita
Kester, several nieces and nephews, other special friends, and the
caring staff and residents at Vintage Park and HCI Hospice.
Welcoming him into heaven is the love of his life Leona; his parents
Ernest and Agnes Kester; two sisters Violet and Fern, and three
brothers; Glen, Ronald, and Ralph.