Obituary for Adorae J. Lester
10/1/1933 – 4/6/2021
Adorae Jean Hansen Lester passed peacefully to her Savior’s side on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. She had fought the cancer beast valiantly for almost 15 years.
Adorae was born to Arnold and Viola Hansen on October 1, 1933 in Rockville, Nebraska where Arnold worked at the local bank, one of the few that did not fail during the Great Depression. In 1941 Arnold was hired by Bank of America and requested to be placed in a small-town branch. The family packed up and moved to Hawthorne, California where the Hansen family made their home for many years. It was at Hawthorne Community Church, later known as Acacia Avenue Baptist, that Adorae gave her life to the Lord.
Adorae’s passion for teaching was evident even as a young girl. While other girls were playing house, Adorae lined up her dolls and any willing neighbor children to play school. Once a neighbor lady told Viola that her child was learning more in Adorae’s “class” than in her regular school! Adorae excelled in school and was named Valedictorian and Olympian Girl when she graduated Leuzinger High School in 1951. At Leuzinger she met the handsome student body president and star basketball player Dick Lester, whom, on a dare, she invited to be her date for the Snow Ball dance.
After high school Adorae pursued her teaching degree at UCLA while Dick enlisted into the Army. During this time Arnold became very ill with the same heart valve defect that had taken his father’s life at a very young age. The wedding Dick and Adorae planned for Christmas 1954 was postponed when Arnold passed away at Thanksgiving. Dick canceled his trip home, and the flight he would have taken tragically crashed, leaving no survivors. Adorae and Dick were married August 27, 1955 with her favorite uncle, Ed Heise escorting her down the aisle at Acacia Avenue Baptist Church in Hawthorne.
Adorae began her teaching career immediately at Washington Elementary School in Hawthorne. In one of her first classes she had a blind student who, among many other things, learned to jump rope by sound. Adorae learned to read Braille by sight so that she could teach her student. Adorae left her public school teaching job when Lenise was born in 1958. She took some time off from full-time teaching over the years as Laurie, Melanie, and Kimberly joined the family. She served as a substitute teacher and art teacher off and on and resumed full time teaching at Acacia Avenue Baptist Christian School when Kimberly began Kindergarten. During the summers she and Dick worked for the summer swim club in Palos Verdes, where Dick taught swimming and Adorae ran the snack bar.
Adorae again took time off from teaching when the family moved to Huntington Beach in 1968. She slipped into the role of taxiing the girls to and from school. This didn’t last too long, and she went back to teaching full time when Viola moved in with the family after she retired in 1972.
In 1974 Adorae was hired to teach at Liberty Christian School in Huntington Beach. The Lesters moved their church membership to Central Baptist, now known as CrossPoint Church. It was also that year that the family welcomed its first AFS exchange student, Philip Ogola from Kenya. During the protests that took place in 2020, Adorae commented to her daughter Melanie how much Philip’s presence in the family changed their lives and their world view.
Adorae started at Liberty teaching third and fourth grade classes, but when she was offered a position teaching kindergarten using the new-to-Liberty A Beka reading curriculum, Adorae decided to give it a try. It was there she found her true calling as a teacher. Each evening she would regale Viola with stories of kindergarten-isms and antics as they graded papers together and Adorae prepared beautiful materials with which to decorate her classroom. Her classroom was always stunning, especially during the annual Open House. Five of Adorae’s grandchildren had the privilege of having her as a kindergarten teacher, and Chaska met her husband Roy while in her class.
About the same time the Lesters became more and more involved in the American Field Service program, in the Centinela Valley chapter, hosting a total of eleven students and eventually legally adopting Geoffrey Asamoah from Ghana. When a new AFS chapter was established at Liberty Christian, Adorae became the district representative for the entire Huntington Beach area. Dick and Adorae regularly opened their home to visiting missionaries and others who needed a place to stay. They took to heart Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” and their home became known as the “International Hotel.”
A dream trip to Kenya in 1980 turned into a nightmare when Dick and Adorae’s photo safari vehicle was hijacked by marauders in the Masai Mara game preserve. They were forced at gunpoint to march, carrying their luggage, about five miles into Tanzania where they were relieved of their belongings and turned loose to find their way back, barefoot, in the dark. Their guide led them away from the water sources where lions would certainly be hunting, and told them to talk loudly or sing to warn the cape buffalo of their presence to avoid being trampled. She and Dick sang as many hymns and church songs as they could think of, including one that begins “I believe the answer’s on the way, I believe the Lord has heard me pray.” With their typical indomitable spirit, Dick and Adorae decided to continue the rest of their itinerary which included a stay in Geoffrey’s village in Ghana. There they were welcomed and made honorary members of the village by its chieftain.
After her retirement from teaching in 2001, Adorae took up painting in oils and watercolors and turned many of her favorite photos into striking works of art. Selected works from her many paintings depicting Village Life in Ghana were published as a set of notecards. She joined a “Write Your Life Story” class where she made fast friends by reading and listening to each other’s weekly installments. Adorae’s completed work “Just an Ordinary Kid” is a family treasure.
Dick and Adorae enjoyed watching their grandkids grow up and rarely missed a birthday party, sporting event, concert or stage performance. Adorae loved having her family and friends gather for holidays and parties, and threw a themed party for each of her children’s 50th birthdays. Her liberal definition of family meant that attendance at such gatherings frequently topped forty. She passed on to each of her daughters a completely irrational fear of not having enough food for her guests. A running family joke was that there was still leftover potato salad in the refrigerator from her daughters’ wedding receptions in the 1980s. Needless to say, food has never, ever run out at any party given by Adorae or any of the Lester girls.
Adorae never stopped being a teacher. She taught through her words but even more through her example, by following her Savior Jesus. She taught her children and grandchildren to never let the sun go down on their anger. She taught them to take care of their own business and not worry about someone else’s. She taught that people are important and all basically the same in spite of external and cultural differences. She saw the inherent value in each individual and treated them with respect and care in spite of differences in opinion or lifestyle. She didn’t toot her own horn but quietly did what she believed was right. In short, like Jesus, she taught her students, her friends, and her family how to live. In her courageous fight against the disease that eventually took her life, she taught them that life was precious and worth fighting for. But when the time came, she also taught them how to die. She left this earth peacefully because she trusted that God would do exactly what He said He would do: give eternal life to those who trust in His Son Jesus. Her fondest wish was that everyone she loved would join her in eternity by trusting in Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Adorae is survived by her loving husband of nearly 66 years, Dick; her children Lenise Cook (Jeff), Laurie Corvacho (Melanio), Geoffrey Lester (Annie), Melanie Nelson (Steve), Kimberly Fells (Michael) and Philip Ogola (Ruth); her brother Jerry Hansen (Lois); Grandchildren Chaska Hendrickson (Roy), Jonathan Nelson, James Cook (Beth), Kiya Corvacho, Justin Nelson (Lacy), Ryan Sanberg, Christie Cook, Taylor Nelson, Michael Cook (Marie), Kevin Sanberg, Lynette Lester, Levon Lester, and Kellyanne Cook; eleven great grandchildren, scores of cousins, nieces and nephews; and adopted family from all over the world who call her Mom or Grandma. She is missed by her church family at CrossPoint church where she and Dick have served since 1974, and by her former students from Liberty Christian School where she taught for more than 25 years. She was preceded in death by her parents James Arnold Hansen and Viola Kruse Hansen, niece Miaaka Lester Deforrest, and granddaughter-in-law Ashleigh Williams-Pearce.
Celebration of Life:
Saturday, April 17th at 11 am
7661 Warner Ave. Huntington Beach, CA
Masks required indoors
Graveside and interment:
Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, CA
Tuesday April 20th at 12 noon
Memorial donations may be made to:
BBFI – Roy and Anna Hendrickson
PO Box 191
Springfield, MO 6501
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