Mr. Lester McDowell, owner and Mortician of McDowell Funeral Homes, L.L.C. transitioned peacefully, quietly, and with great dignity into the arms of his Lord and Savior on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
A bouncing baby boy entered this world on August 15, 1951, to Mr. Andrew Jackson “A.J.” and Mrs. Opal Lee Scott McDowell. He was the seventh of eight children.
At a young age, Lester joined Wesley United Methodist Church. He later converted to the Catholic religion and united with St. John The Baptist Catholic Church where he was a faithful member and servant of God.
Lester was educated in the Waco Independent School District. He attended J. H. Hines Elementary School, R.L. Smith Elementary School, and G. L. Wiley Middle School. He graduated from A. J. Moore High School in May of 1970. While in high school, he was a member of the A. J. Kirk Choir, National Honor Society, Who’s Who Among American High School Students, and Science Club. He learned the importance of a good work career early and began his work journey by purchasing a lawnmower in order to cut yards and earn money. Lester also worked at Plantation Foods, Boykins Anderson Funeral Home, and Safeway Grocery Chain.
Lester matriculated from Paul Quinn College in Waco and earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education on December 13, 1974. While at Paul Quinn College, he was initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Iota Kappa Chapter in 1974 as a Charter Member along with line brothers Claudell Leake, Hershel Robinson, Leon Roddy, Jeff Dunner, and Reginald Archer.
He married his high school sweetheart, Lois Jacqueline Cotton. To this union, two daughters were born, Madelyn Opal McDowell, named after her maternal and paternal grandmothers, Madelyn Cotton and Opal McDowell, and Andrea Jaquay McDowell whose initials are A.J.M. after her paternal grandfather.
Lester began his teaching career in the Waco Independent School District in 1976. His first teaching position was at Brook Avenue Elementary School. He moved up to the middle school level and worked at his middle school alma mater, G. L. Wiley, and G. W. Carver Middle Schools for the next thirteen years. During this time, Lester continued his education at Prairie View A & M University and earned his Master’s degree in Administration on May 7, 1978. While at Carver, he was a science teacher. Principal Faye Weaver valued his educational contributions and often said, “Enter the science lab at your own risk.” Lester advanced and became Assistant Principal at G. W. Carver under Principal Weaver’s leadership and guidance. He returned to the elementary level as the principal at Lake Waco and Provident Heights Elementary Schools. In 1999, he served as principal at G. L. Wiley Middle School until his retirement in 2003. After retirement, Lester attended Dallas Institute of Funeral Service and received his Associate of Applied Science Degree in Funeral Service on November 16, 2007.
His love for education and the students lead him out of retirement to become a temporary preferred administrator from 2014 to 2020 at eight WISD campuses. His last assignment in 2020 was at Alta Vista Elementary School.
Lester developed an extraordinarily strong relationship with students, parents, and staff members. He supported every school with a positive attitude and was always energetic and full of life and joy. His wife, Lois, affectionately called him the energized battery because he just kept going and going.
Lester served on the La Vega ISD Board of Trustees from May 6, 1989 until May 2, 1992 and was Board President from 1991 to 1992. The energized battery kept going as he served in the City of Bellmead as a City Council Member with great distinction for a brief period in 2012. He also served on the BEDC from January 2017 until his demise. He was a huge advocate and promoted the cities of Bellmead and Waco every chance he could.
Lester had a dream to own a funeral home and accomplished that dream with the ownership of McDowell Funeral Home. There are currently two locations in Hillsboro, Texas and Waco respectively. He will watch over his second location in Waco from Heaven as it is being constructed from the ground up. His daughter, Andrea, has worked closely with him to see his dream reach fruition as she co-labored with him daily in preparation to continue his legacy. He was blessed to have both of his daughters as trained funeral directors to continue his legacy.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. A.J. and Mrs. Opal McDowell; his brothers, Anderson and Allen McDowell; and his special niece and goddaughter, Tara McDowell.
His legacy will continue on through the survivors of his life: his dedicated wife for 48 years, Mrs. Lois Jacqueline McDowell; his loyal and dutiful daughters, Madelyn Opal McDowell-Butler (Steven) and Andrea Jaquay McDowell; his beloved grandsons, Paw Paw’s Baby, Cedarian Emil Lester McDowell, Sterling Bryson Butler, Sullivan Blake Butler, Brenton Jaylon Thomas and Ayden Jaquay Thomas; his sisters, Doris Ann Bell, Delores (Wille Earl) Foster, and Diane McDowell; his brothers, Charles Ray McDowell, James Earl (Linda) McDowell, and Ruben (Charlene) McDowell; his father and mother-in-law, Edwin H. Sr. and Madelyn C. Cotton; his sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, LaNell (Wilbert) Curtis and Charlayne (Timothy Sr.) Foster; and five godsons; two god-daughters, nieces, nephews, and cousins and a myriad of special and devoted friends, colleagues, students, and acquaintances.
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