Lester Clayton Weber, 89, Ephrata native, “seagoing cowboy,” social leader foundedtwo Akron Mennonite churches

By on April 22, 2015

Lester Clayton Weber, 89, passed away April 19, 2015, in his apartment at Landis Homes, Lititz.

He was born in Ephrata to Ruth (Kolb) and Abel Weber, as the oldest of four sons.

He lived in the Ephrata area until he left for Eastern Mennonite College in Virginia.. After graduating with a Biblical studies degree, he taught school in rural Virginia, administered the Mennonite Children’s Home (Adriel School) in Ohio, worked as personnel director at Weaver Poultry, and later headed the book department of Provident Bookstore, both in Pennsylvania. He became a sales representative for various religious book publishers including Thomas Nelson and Word until his retirement.

Lester was a founding and active member of Akron Mennonite Church before becoming one of the founding members of Pilgrim’s Mennonite, also in Akron, serving in various leadership capacities in both congregations.

His adventuresome spirit was expressed in the 1950s as a “seagoing cowboy” delivering horses by ship to post World War II-ravaged Europe and more recently zip-lining in his mid-80s in Costa Rica. He had a curious mind that propelled him to college with only an eighth grade education, motivated him to travel, and fueled his voracious reading and thinking about theological and justice issues.

He integrated a rural Virginia Bible school in the 1950s, hired minority workers in the 1960s, protested the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and 1970s, and most recently advocated for LGBT inclusion in the Mennonite church. He was known for his great love of pleasure walking horses which he raised, bred, and sold on his farm in Reinholds, and he continued riding his beloved horse until six months before his death.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years: Lydia Weber; his children: Steven Weber; Louisa, and her husband, Thomas Martin; Bonnie, and her husband, David Lehman; and Philip, and his wife, Sharon Esterly; as well as seven grandchildren; Andrew, Rachel, and David Martin; Timothy Taggert, married to Jessica Taggert; Daniel Lehman; and Karl and Christian Weber. Lester’s brothers: Elvin Weber, John Weber (Arlene), and Richard Weber (Viola) are also surviving and living in the area.

Lester was predeceased by his parents and step-mother: Ida Benner Weber; as well as his sister-in-law: Ruth Weber (Elvin).

A memorial service will be held at Akron Mennonite Church, 1311 Diamond St., Akron, on Saturday, April 25, at 1 p.m., with the Rev. Barry Kreider officiating. Interment will take place in the adjoining church cemetery.

Memorial contributions in Lester’s name can be sent to Habitat for Humanity, 3245 Eliot St, Denver, CO 80211, app.etapestry.com/hosted/HabitatforHumanityofMetro/OnlineDonation.html, for whom his grandson Christian works, or Pilgrims Mennonite Church, PO Box 217, Akron, PA 17501.

Arrangements by Stradling Funeral Homes, Inc., Akron/Ephrata. Online condolences can be given at stradlingfuneralhome.com.

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