Cover photo for Yoshiko Lester's Obituary
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1931 Yoshiko 2024

Yoshiko Lester

October 10, 1931 — July 2, 2024


 Yoshiko Iha “Jo Jo” Lester, 92 of Watkinsville, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 2nd at her home, surrounded by her loving family after a brief illness. Yoshiko was born on October 10, 1931 in Okinawa, Japan where she lived until she met and married George A. Lester, Fire Chief Kadena Air Force Base. 

Yoshiko came to the United States in 1957 and quickly embraced the life of an American wife and Mother. She became a Christian in 1972 and became a member of the Winterville Baptist Church and Winterville Silver Hair Club although she was really too young for membership, they welcomed her anyway. 

Prior to moving to Watkinsville, Yoshiko lived in the Bedgood-Glennwood neighborhood of Athens for many years where she enjoyed her daily walks. She never met anyone in the area who did not instantly become a loving and close friend. She was a wonderful cook and when you visited her, no matter what time of the day, she would quickly whip up a delicious meal that she referred to as a “snack”. She truly loved her friends and was always thoughtful to do something that made you feel appreciated and special. Yoshiko did not drive so it was curious how she had so many friends around her always. 

Yoshiko was a simple person with many talents. She was a master seamstress, gifted gardener, skilled at crocheting and quilting. She was busy all the time; she even cut her own grass. She was a loving and devoted Mother to her children. Yoshiko’s happiness came from being around her family and friends and giving of herself to them.

Yoshiko was one of eight children. Much of her childhood was spent during the war. At night, her mother, Kame would move Yoshiko and her sisters from cave to cave, always moving and hiding from American soldiers and the bombing. During one of these moves, she was shot in the leg. After several days, Kame knew she had to do something so she took Yoshiko to a Japanese camp seeking medical attention. She was told that the leg had to be amputated. Not settling for this diagnosis and not knowing what else to do, her brave Mother took her to an American military camp. The field doctor removed the bullets and saved her leg. That is what Americans do. 

Other than her love for her family and friends, she loved this country and wanted to show her love by becoming a U.S. citizen and voting in our elections. Yoshiko spoke broken English and did not read or write English very well but no matter. She studied the history of our country religiously for several months. She took the citizenship test orally and became a U.S. citizen in 2000. Yoshiko was so proud of being a U.S. citizen that she never missed voting in our elections. She wore the peach sticker “I voted” until it wasn’t sticky anymore. 

Along with her parents, Kame Iha and her father who died during the war, she was preceded in death by her husband George A. Lester of Athens in 1972. 

Yoshiko is survived by her four children, Robert Lester (Kathy) of Athens, Mary Padgett (John) of Athens, Marcia Ulm (Billy) of Jupiter, Florida, and John Lester (Crystal) of Athens; nine grandchildren, William Ulm (Kristina) of Bishop, Whitney Padgett Williamson of Phoenix, Arizona, Ashley Ulm Olivier (Leon) of Jupiter, Florida, Joseph Ulm (Gann) of Watkinsville, James Lester (Julee) of Watkinsville, Mathew Lester (Laura Ashley) of Athens, Emily Lester of Elijay, John Lester and Jennifer Lester, Germany. 

Yoshiko had ten great grandchildren whom she enjoyed so much and made her laugh with every visit, Aubrey Williamson of Phoenix, Arizona, Lilah and William Ulm of Bishop, Evie, Joseph, Duke and Isabella Ulm of Watkinsville, Leo Olivier of Jupiter, Florida, Charlotte and Vivienne Lester of Athens. 

Special thanks to Sharon Sherrer, her dear friend and caregiver who will surely miss having hot chocolate at 4:00 every day. Also, she wanted to thank Dr. Tom Wells for his kindness and care and to his staff. 

A private family graveside service will be held on Saturday, July 6, 2024 at Oconee Hills Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a kind donation can be made in her memory to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. Lord & Stephens East is in charge of arrangements. 

Yoshiko “Jo Jo” Lester – a life well lived. She will be missed by all. Rest in Peace.

Lord & Stephens Funeral Homes, East, Athens, GA is in charge of arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Yoshiko Lester, please visit our flower store.

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Graveside Service

Saturday, July 6, 2024

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