Editor's Note: The following was provided by Brian Niggles, great-grandson of Barbara Jean Grace Lester
Barbara Jean Lester (nee' Grace) died of pneumonia on January 22, at her home on Three Mile Harbor Road. She was 89 years old. Barbara was born on July 28, 1924 to Dominick J. Grace and Clara Vaitkus Grace at their home on Cross Highway in East Hampton. Both of her parents immigrated from Plunge, Lithuania to the United States through Ellis Island.
On September 21, 1938, at age 14, Barbara returned home from school to find her father, Dominick Grace, dying from injuries sustained when the garage collapsed on him during the 1938 Hurricane; leaving her mother, Clara, a widow with six children. Barbara had to leave school to go to work.
In the early 1940’s while working as a chambermaid at the Murphy Estate on Head of Pond Road, Barbara met her future husband, Albert C Lester of Round Swamp who worked there as a gardener. Albert, who was very shy, asked Barbara to go on a date; which later led to them being married. Albert had always told us, “Your mother is the most beautiful woman around.”
In October 1948, Albert and Barbara moved into their new home on the Round Swamp Farm property. There they raised their four children: Carolyn Snyder, Albert F. Lester, Dianna Catozzi and Claire Olszewski. They had had another child, Harold, who was stillborn. Barbara was a mother and a housewife until the death of her husband on September 14, 1968. She then went to work for William and Emmeline Heppenheimer on the Chauncey Estate.
Barbara was the matriarch of the Round Swamp Farm family. For years, she could be found behind the scenes at the market. She worked there until 2004.
Barbara loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “Grammy Lester”, as she was fondly called, took care of several generations of the Lester family for many years.
Besides her children, Barbara leaves behind nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. All of her siblings, Beatrice Deleski, Clara Talmage, Dominick V. Grace, Stella Reney and Eva Gretty predeceased her.
A funeral service was held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, January 25, with the Rev. Denis C. Brunelle officiating. Pall Bearers were: Scott and Jonathan Lester, Joseph Hawkins, Al Shaffer, and Steven, Brian and Charlie Niggles. Ushers were: Albert J. Catozzi, Christine Hawkins, Jimmy Niggles and Ernest Leatherwood. The readings were done by Jonathan Lester and Brian Niggles. Interment followed at the Round Swamp Cemetery on Three Mile Harbor Road.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the: St. Luke’s Parish House Fund: 18 James Lane, East Hampton, NY 11937