Lester Payton was born April 30, 1949, in Webster County, Mississippi. He was the eighth child out of 12 children from the union of the late John and Bertha Lee Payton. He departed this life on September 10, 2020, at Elkhart General Hospital. Lester, received Christ at a young age at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi.
He was often called "the farmer" because of his love for the outdoors and his manicured landscape. Lester, would often cut grass everyday…seven days a week. He would swear the grass would grow overnight. This was only one of his many talents. When he was younger, he also would build wagons, bows and arrows, and walking stilts and he was really really good with his hands.
Lester attended school in Eupora and Kilmichael Vocational School in Mississippi. He then moved to Elkhart, Indiana in 1968 with his brother Gene and wife. He graduated from Elkhart High School in 1969.
Les, was married and from that marriage, he had two children: Travanda and Jason Payton. He later remarried and met his soulmate, Barbara Johnson and from this union, Lester, gained a step-son, Franklin Lewis. They were united on December 20, 1991. Les and Barbara were together for 34 years of which 28 years of marriage. They were still united until God called him home.
He worked several different jobs throughout his life until he found a home at White Hall Laboratories. He was employed there for many years until the plant closed. Les, then went on to work for the Indiana Department of Transportation. There, he paved the way for many drivers to be safe on the Elkhart and Goshen winter roads. Following this, he began to work for Elkhart Community School’s delivering lunches to the children at different locations. Lester was forced to retire when he became very ill. This didn’t last very long. He eventually, went back to work for the City of Elkhart Building and Grounds until his untimely death.
Lester was a great mentor to the younger generation. He enjoyed taking Sunday rides with his wife and looking at nature. He also enjoyed spending time with his brother, Robert, sitting out back shooting the breeze. Afterward, he would sometimes visit his older brother, Gene where they would talk about their lawns and catch up on what’s going on with the family. He especially, loved when his children, grandchildren, and family would come over. He would BBQ and tell the grandchildren stories. His most fondest and cherished thing he enjoyed was maintaining his yard. His yard was one of the best in Elkhart and because of this, his yard was featured in the Elkhart Truth.
Lester leaves to cherish his wife, Barbara Payton of Elkhart Indiana; three children: Travanda Payton (Tom) Doyle and Jason Payton of Holland, Michigan, Franklin (LaTonya) Lewis of Elkhart, Indiana; three brothers: Gene (Nancy) Payton and Robert Payton of Elkhart, Indiana, Bill (Janie) Payton of Inkster, Michigan; two sisters: Shirley Clark and Anita Jower of Inkster Michigan; four sisters-in-law: Essie May Payton and Stella Payton both of Detroit Michigan, Mary (Robert) Allen of Olive Branch, Mississippi, and Alice (Kobree ) Robinson of Decatur, Georgia: four grandchildren: Angie Payton of Liverpool, New York, Kyree and Jaylen Lewis of Elkhart, Indiana, Kayden Doyle of Holland Michigan; two great-grandchildren: Tariq and Tracy Payton of Liverpool, New York; and a very close childhood friend, Clyde Flowers of Brooklyn, New York; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends
Proceeding him in death are his parents, John and Bertha Lee Payton; four brothers: James, Luther, Leroy, and Frank; two sisters: Mattie, and Hattie. Lester was a great husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend and he will be truly missed.
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