Lester W. Nicolai, 95, of La Crosse, went home to be with Jesus on October 27, 2019 at Bethany St. Joseph’s Care Center, with his stepdaughter at his side. Lester was born on August 17, 1924, in La Crosse, Wis. He was the older brother of two brothers born to Harvey and Alda (Anderson) Nicolai. His mother died at a young age and then he was raised by his grandparents from 6 to 13 on a farm in Stoddard, Wis., until his father remarried to Mabel Anderson.
Lester grew up with his younger brother Reuben in Stoddard. He loved his grandparents farm, enjoyed catfishing on the mighty Mississippi, duck hunting and spending countless hours playing baseball.
Lester joined the Air Force at age 17 in 1941. The Air Force sent him to Illinois for teletype school. He served our country without question, in WWII 1942-1946 in the Air Force 101st Airborne as a Teletype Comm. Specialist. He served directly under the Generals. Lester attended the Potsdam conference in Germany, standing next to world leaders. Lester was awarded several medals, including a Victory Medal, American Theater Ribbon, European- African- Middle Eastern Theater Ribbons with 2 Bronze Battle Stars, 3 Overseas Service Bars, and a Good Conduct Medal. After the war, Lester joined the Army Reserves Corps., and was a member of the Stoddard Legion Post #315. The Freedom Honor Flight, May 2, 2015, was the highlight of his later years with his daughter Stacey. He loved his country and is even in the national archives of WWII.
Lester was a jack of all trades: Lester did the electrical and plumbing while building apartments with his brother. He worked as a television repair man, he worked for Trane Company for 10 years, he owned apartments, a tavern in Stoddard, and a dairy farm in Bangor.
Lester was a very humble man who found great peace in his faith serving God. He learned his Bible and read his Bible daily. Lester helped build, design, and donated to the construction of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Stoddard in 1979. His wish was to have his final service there.
Lester loved to sing hymns, play the ukulele, and was an avid square dancer. He enjoyed singing Christmas songs and cheered on the Packers.
Lester started his family late in life and married Kim (Hagen) Nicolai at age 61, in August 1986. He was blessed with twin daughters Whitney A. Nicolai of Boulder, CO and Leslie J. Nicolai of Bangor, WI. In February of 1987, who joined two stepchildren Stacey (Antal) Parmenter (Kevin Dagendesh) of La Crosse, and Donald (Dana) Antal of Melrose, WI. He and Kim later divorced after 17 years. His brother and daughter Stacey served as his guardians.
He is survived by his children; Stacey, Don, Whitney and Leslie; grandchildren Shelby, Taren, Autumn, and Summer; Brother Reuben Nicolai, of La Crosse; Nephew Steven (Antelma) Nicolai; and many great nieces, including Vikki Nicolai, Sophia and Emma and great nephews.
Lester was preceded in death by his parents, stepmother Mabel, grandparents, cousin Bernice, sister-in-law Mavis Nicolai, and great nephew Lance Nicolai.
From 2007 to the present, Lester took pride in calling Bethany St. Joseph Care Center his home, where he loved church services, Bible studies, singing, holiday parties, playing bingo, and his adventure outings with recreation. Thank you to all the caring staff at BSJ that Lester called his family. Lester treasured the many friends that he met at BSJ. Thank you for being a part of his life.
A Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 303 N. Main St, Stoddard, WI. Pastor Silas Schmitzer will officiate. Burial with Military honors performed by the Stoddard American Legion Post #315, and active duty Air Force will be held in Woodlawn Cemetery, La Crosse, WI. Family and friends may visit from 10:00 AM until the time of service at Church on Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Freedom Honor Flight so other veterans receive the experience Lester did. Thank you to all that loved him. He will be missed.