William Lester Interview
From: William Lester (bl) Medium: Flip Camera Date: Sunday, May 15, 2011 Place: Home of William and Tracy Lester, Collected by: Taylor Lakes (tl)
tl: Alright, um, I’m going to need you to state your name and where we are.
bl: I am Bill Lester and we are at my home in Marion on Overlook Road.
tl: Um, do you allow me to submit this recording to Mr. Munn’s AP U.S. History class at Marion High School?
bl: I do at this time. Maybe when were done I won’t.
tl: And the Marion Public Library?
High School Life
tl: Um, during your high school life, uh how many or what years did you attend Marion High School?
bl: 1973 to 1975, there were only three grades at the high school then, sophomore through seniors.
tl: Did they have freshmen at like a certain place?
bl: Junior High, seven through nine, you had three freshmen schools with Justice, Jones, and McCulloch. All had three separate uh junior high schools.
tl: Alright, uh, where did you live while you were at Marion High School?
bl: I lived on uh, Lanyard Lane which is uh, just north of town off of 15.
tl: Um, what sports did you play um while at Marion High School?
bl: Football, basketball, and golf.
tl: Um, what were some of things you accomplished playing sports?
bl: Well, we had a decent football team but we didn’t make it anywhere in the state, and uh we had a very good golf team and our senior year we had a lot of good players and we made it to the state championship and ended up fifth I believe and I was lucky enough to play on the ’75 state champion basketball team, so it was as far as you can go with basketball and we had a lot of great teammates.
tl: Uh, who were the coaches, while you were playing sports?
bl: Uh, let’s see, Dick Lootens was football, Roger Zimmerman was uh, golf, and uh Bill Green was basketball coach.
tl: Did you like any of the coaches?
bl: Well yeah, they were good guys. Zimmerman was uh, a kid out of college and he was probably 22 when he took over and was just out of school and uh, Dick had uh, had a story football coaching career and uh, of coarse Bill Green was uh, he is a legend but uh, he was early in his career in Marion and was very fortunate. Sure I liked Bill, we had our moments and I think all student athletes have moments with their coaches.
tl: Um, did you have any girlfriends?
bl: I had a few, I was very fortunate. I had a lot uh, I had a lot of good friends and had a couple good girlfriends.
tl: Um, what was your GPA at the end of high school?
bl: I couldn’t tell you, it was somewhere probably around three. You know class rank and GPA was really never discussed and we talk about that today between a lot of us and no one really talked about it. I uh did very well my senior year and had a real rough start my sophomore year but uh got by and really improved my grades my senior year.
tl: Was there anything uh significant going on in the world during this time like economically or politically?
bl: Yeah were in a, we were heading into a deep recession uh, (pause) the world was in a (pause) the United States was heading in deep recession in real estate issues and it was uh just coming out of the very tail end of the Vietnam War and social issues were structured around Nam and it was uh (pause) you know we, we didn’t focus on current events seemingly like we uh like we do today, you know maybe the kids don’t today but as adults we certainly do and there were some really neat things going on in the world but there were some very difficult things going on.
tl: Um, and after high school, where did you attend college?
bl: I went to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
tl: Uh, did you play any sports there?
bl: I did, I went out to uh play basketball and I uh found out rather quickly that uh I didn’t care for the coach but more importantly I knew I wasn’t good enough to play division one basketball and uh I quit the basketball team after the first semester and uh stayed in school out there which was quite a culture shock from Marion, Indiana to Albuquerque, New Mexico but it turned out great and then I walked on to the golf team and made the golf team. I got to do a lot of traveling throughout my college career uh while on the golf team.
tl: Um, what was your major?
tl: How did that go?
bl: It went well. I’ve always enjoyed it as I noted in there (biographical data form) geography and history were my favorite subjects and I uh knew I could get uh by with that and uh not have to do a lot of math which was my uh downfall, algebra, geometry and uh Calculus, not good.
tl: Um, was there anything significant going on while you were in college?
bl: Oh, if you think of the late ‘70s the uh, those were the uh Jimmy Carter years and uh the issue went around of the uh hostages being held and just the uh, there were so many things going on in the world, you could just literally, go on and on about all the issues the were happening in the world but we were kind of in our own little world getting adapted to the uh college life, freedom, and you know not uh having the rules and regulations we had growing up with at home and uh didn’t really get focused on a whole lot. I knew what was going on in the world but really didn’t pay attention to it, uh all the social causes.
Life After School
tl: Um, and out of uh college what was the first job you had really taken?
bl: The first job I was a salesmen for advertising down at uh, what was called Western Newspaper Publishing in Indianapolis and I would sell ads in newspapers. Not newspapers, magazines. Code calling.
tl: Where did you live while…
bl: I was living in Marion in an apartment.
tl: Where you married at the time? Where you and Tracy together?
bl: Yeah uh, we got married right out of college in August 1979 and we had a little apartment north of town and I was 22 and she was 19 so we were just little kids married but uh somehow survived it all.
tl: Um, what were some of the significant things that happened to you to get to the point where you are now?
bl: Well the driving force was my parents. I had a loving mother who was not only a mother but my best friend and great for guidance with a loving heart and she could see no wrong in anyone, no matter how bad they were. And of course my father was my mentor and my guide he uh directed me to business and I was fortunate enough to uh start a business with him in uh 1981 and being a part of that which was Cole Hartman Manufacturing up in Goshen and I commuted from Marion to Goshen and it ended up being a 17 year period of driving a 150 mile round trip but my father was uh by far the guiding force in my life. And once again like my mother he was my best friend like my mother and he meant the world to me.
tl: Um, and your business now, could you tell me a little about that?
bl: Well our business now is like what my father and I had and uh a few other partners started, we manufactured paper plates and sadly we started that business in ’81 and uh my father in April of 1986 became ill and uh died of a heart attack that year in November at the age of 65 very young and the business was just getting to the point where it was either going to succeed or fail. We were five years in and kind of struggling and uh my other partner in business who was a little older than me had his father in it and ironically his father died two months after (Bill’s father) of a heart attack which left the two of us and uh another guy running the business so with out the two founding fathers of it (pause). A lot of hard work and good luck, right place, right time and uh the business kind of took off and um ended up selling it out to um a competitor in um, gosh it must have been 1997 and then decided to get back in it in 2004 and back into making paper plates again at the St. Regis Building on 38th Street and uh also bought the uh Boots Creek operation on the West side of town, so we have two paper plate manufacturing facilities which make plates, cups, bowls and the uh disposable goods items, kind of the uh picnic isle of the grocery store.
tl: Well I think that uh concludes the interview.
bl: Well that’s pretty plain and simple so… I appreciate it Taylor. I hope it works man.