Francis E. Lester|
The Builder Magazine - September 1925
[Similar poems are the anonymous A
Mason And A Man and IF by Brother Rudyard
Kipling, written a few years earlier.
F. E. Lester was born in England’s Lake District in 1868. He moved to the United States around the turn of the century and spent nearly 25 years in Mesilla Park, NM. There he formed The Francis E. Lester Company, which marketed Indian crafts, and wrote informative catalogs which also served as tutorials on various crafts: Indian rugs, Navajo blankets, Mexican drawnwork, jewelry, pottery, and baskets. He wrote "A Southern New Mexico Flower Garden" in 1902 and a booklet on the roads of Dońa Ana County, N.M. in 1914.
He was elected Grand Master of Masons for New Mexico on Feb 22, 1921. In 1922 he published "What is Masonry," a vest pocket volume on a big subject. Brother Lester said in his introductory page that at the time he was raised he was unable to learn much about the institution of which he had become a member, or of the ceremonies in which he had participated. "The one thing that was missing was the kindly explanation by a brother of what relation Masonry, with its teaching and ritual, bore to the duties and responsibilities of daily life." This booklet of thirty pages was a "kindly explanation" of many of the things which a newly raised Mason is most anxious to learn about. He served as Executive Secretary and later Vice President of the National Masonic Tuberculosis Sanatoria Association, which had been incorporated by the Grand Lodge of New Mexico during his tenure as G.M.
In his mid-fifties he and his wife Marjorie moved to California. In 1938 they settled in Corralitos, south of Santa Cruz on the Central Coast among “the circles of redwoods.” Nestled on four acres of beautiful forest, he created a rose display garden and propagation field along a quiet mountain stream. The nursery was called “Lester Rose Gardens” and some of the roses can still be found at that address just up the road from the current “Roses of Yesterday and Today,” as his business is called today. Lester put out the Lester Rose Gardens catalog that served as a model for other rose catalogs for years to come. Just as his earlier catalogs were also tutorials on Southwestern Native arts and crafts, so these new ones were monographs on roses and flower gardening. Lester became a well-known authority on old roses; he was attributed with collecting and keeping available many old roses and writing about the subject in his book "My Friend, The Rose" published by J. Horace McFarland Co. in 1942. There is even a rose variety named the "Francis E. Lester."
Francis Lester died of lukemia Dec 6, 1945, and was buried at Watsonville, CA.