Cover photo for Roger Lee Lester's Obituary
Roger Lee Lester Profile Photo
1943 Roger 2022

Roger Lee Lester

August 4, 1943 — December 26, 2022

Roger Lee Lester was born on August 4, 1943, as the youngest of the four children of Buel and Lola Davis Lester and passed away peacefully on December 26, 2022, in Amarillo, Texas at the age of 79 years old. Services will be May 6, 2023 at Magnolia Baptist Church in Crawford Oklahoma at 1:00 PM. Roger was deeply inspired by his boyhood home of Verner in southern West Virginia, and his time along the Guyandotte River gave Roger many stories that he would gladly repeat until right up to his death. When Roger was 12 years old the family moved down the river to Gilbert after his dad had to sell the family home to pay for his mother’s surgery after her cancer diagnosis. It was then that Roger began to hear his new neighbor practicing his trumpet in the evenings, and Roger dreamt that he would also one day learn how to play.

Once Roger reached high school, the band teacher told some of the kids if they would find some simple sheet music and begin to learn a song, he would teach them how to make a little bit of noise on the trumpet. Roger had no idea how to read sheet music so he approached his neighbor and asked if he had any he could borrow to learn a song. The neighbor pulled out the first set of music he could find, played the song for Roger so he could hear how it should sound, and handed Roger the music and a trumpet to practice with. A week later, Roger walked into Dana Dorsey’s band room with his borrowed sheet music and much to Mr. Dorsey’s surprise the kid who couldn’t read that music or even play the trumpet a week ago played John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”  to near perfection. Mr. Dorsey knew then that Roger had a unique talent and that he was made for the trumpet so he became Rogers greatest teacher and mentor.

Mr. Dorsey opened up a whole new dimension to Roger when he introduced him to jazz music. Roger decided he wanted to learn how to play it so Mr. Dorsey took him to a local segregated coal camp that had a house with an old, out of tune piano where the coal miners would have jam sessions on the weekends. Roger sat in the back, waiting until the band took a break before going to ask the trumpet player to teach him how to play like he did. Roger was told to get his trumpet out and to set in on the next set. Roger asked the piano player what key they would be playing in, to which the piano player replied in a big, booming voice, “I’m mostly playing on the black keys tonight.”  Roger knew then that this music lesson was going to be very different than the ones in Mr. Dorsey’s band room but it was one of the most special moments in Rogers life. He walked out that night as a jazz trumpet musician.

While in high school, Roger was first chair trumpet in the West Virginia All State Band where he got to fly on a plane to play at the Worlds Fair in Seattle. After Roger graduated from Gilbert High School, he joined the United States Army and attended the Naval School of Music in Anacosta, New York. He also played in the Army band and once got to play in a small band who welcomed President John F. Kennedy. The Army took Roger to Amarillo, Texas where he met Margie Lloydelle Martin, whom he affectionately called “Marti” because of her last name. They married in 1967 and moved back to West Virginia where they welcomed their first daughter, Cindy. Roger later took a job with Coca Cola that moved him back to Amarillo where he and Marti later welcomed their second daughter, Sarah. Roger learned how to build driveshafts for the oil field which took his family to Corpus Christi, Texas and later to open his own shop in Abilene, Texas.  The family eventually moved back to Amarillo where Roger worked for Amarillo Clutch & Gear and A & I Drive Train. After retirement in 2005, Roger and Marti moved to western Oklahoma to be near her family farm. They took a summer job at the Metcalfe Museum that ended up lasting 15 years until their final retirement in July of 2022. It was then that Roger and Marti moved to Panhandle, Texas to be closer to family. No matter where he lived Roger never stopped playing his trumpet. For many years he played in the orchestra at Quail Creek Baptist Church, with one of his favorite memories being the time he went to then Belarus, Russia as one of the first groups of Christians to visit the area and be allowed to hand out Bibles printed in Russian. He also loved being a part of the revivals and playing his trumpet all over Belarus. More recently, Roger was the long-time trumpet player for Patrick Swindell and Pizazz in Amarillo. The last time Roger played his trumpet was alongside his great friend Patrick just two years ago. That was the perfect way to end his musical career that spanned over 60 years.

Roger spent many hours fishing anywhere he could, with some of his favorite places being stream fishing in New Mexico, on a john boat in a pond in western Oklahoma, or deep-sea fishing in the gulf. Many hours of laughter were spent with his brother Larry and wife Darlene and their family. Each time they got together it was like they were still wild, barefoot boys back in West Virginia. Roger loved to tell the same stories of his life back home over and over to anyone who would listen, although there always seemed to be plenty of stories about other people while not nearly as many on himself. Roger was the most proud to be called Papa and loved every moment he had with his grandchildren. His relationship with each one was unique and he made sure none of them had any doubt of his love for them. Many card games and dominos were played, many lures cast, ball games cheered at, school plays attended, hamburgers grilled, and lots and lots of music was talked about and played together over the years. Roger also loved spending time with his great friends Gordon Thomas and brothers Timmy Cockrell and Jerry Cockrell of Oklahoma. He was a member of Magnolia Baptist Church in Crawford, Oklahoma and recently had been attending The River in Panhandle, Texas. Roger wasn’t just a talented musician, but an anointed one as well who knew first and foremost, he was made to glorify God with his life and with his gift. He did all of those things and he did it tremendously.

Roger is preceded in death by his parents, his siblings Jim Lester and wife Alice of West Virginia and Joyce and husband French Kennedy of North Carolina, his in laws Lloyd and Margie Martin of Oklahoma, his wife’s siblings Ronnie and wife Barbara Martin of Texas and Sue and husband Dean Pearson of Oklahoma.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, his daughter Cindy Harris and husband Tim of Ft. Worth, TX along with their children Nik Harris of Denver, CO and Scout Harris of Denton, TX and daughter Sarah Hammer and husband Brent of Panhandle, TX and their children Ashlee Lester and Callee Hammer of Oklahoma City, OK, and Tack Hammer and Jake Hammer of Panhandle, TX. He is also survived by his brother Larry Lester and wife Darlene of Amarillo, Texas, an Aunt Beulah Poe of Gilbert, West Virginia, as well as sister-in-law Christi Lanier of Weatherford, Oklahoma and brother-in-law Joe Martin of Sanger, CA. He is also survived by his favorite dog Buddy, and many beloved family members, including nieces and nephews scattered from California to West Virginia.

The family request memorials be made in Rogers honor to Crown of Texas Hospice Foundation ATTN: BSA Hospice of the Southwest, #3 Care Circle, Amarillo, Texas 79124.

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


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