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We are heartbroken to say that our beloved husband, daddy, granddaddy, brother,
uncle, and friend Hugh Hawkins Lester left us for Heaven on December 7, 2022.
Hugh was born on April 12, 1938, in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, to George Thomas
and Ellie Irene Lester. He grew up in Winterville, Georgia. Hugh graduated magna cum
laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting from the
University of Georgia in 1960, where he was also an active member of the US Air Force
ROTC and Phi Kappa Phi. Upon graduation, he entered the US Air Force where he
attended officer training and flight school. Hugh was both a pilot and a radar
navigator/bombardier on B52’s during his distinguished 20+ year career in the US Air
Hugh served almost three years on temporary duty, mainly in an air combat role, in
southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He filled several leadership roles during his
tenure in the Air Force including Chief of the Bombing and Navigation Branch, Chief of
the 42 nd Bombardment Wing Operations Division, Director of Bomber Training and
Strategic Air Command Liaison Officer, and an instructor in many areas.
Hugh retired in 1985 as a Lieutenant Colonel from his last assignment at Nellis Air
Force Base and took a leadership position at Grumman Aerospace Corporation. He
returned to Nellis where he spent the remainder of his long career working on the Red
Flag Support Contract, as well as serving as training instructor and evaluator for the
Canadian Forces Cold Lake Base Maple Flag exercises.
Hugh obtained an MBA from Golden Gate University in 1981, again graduating magna
cum laude. He was also an instructor at the College of Southern Nevada teaching
accounting, management, organizational behavior, and business management reports.
Hugh was an intellect and never stopped learning. He was always reading, researching
topics of interest on his computer, or watching historical and scientific shows. He was
an avid University of Georgia Bulldogs fan and was looking forward to seeing them win
another national championship in football this season. Hugh was also an avid gardener
and had an impressive green thumb. His trees, plants, and flowers - especially roses
and bougainvillea - were gorgeous and the envy of the neighborhood.
Much more than his professional and academic accomplishments, Hugh’s greatest
contribution during his time with us was the exemplary way he lived his life. His core
traits of integrity, commitment, loyalty, honor and devotion to family were central to who
he was as a person. He was kind to everyone and never met anyone he couldn’t charm
with his southern hospitality and manners. His loss will forever leave a void to those
who loved him best – his wife of 62 years Maria, his children Luis (Norma), Mark
(Susan), Melissa (Chuck) and Teresa. He also leaves behind 10 grandchildren and 18
great grandchildren, his brother Whit (Frances) in Georgia, and many nieces and
We know he is in a better place but will miss him with all our hearts until someday when
we meet again. A military honors service for Hugh will be held at the Southern Nevada
Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City on Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 10:40
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Starts at 10:40am (Pacific time)
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