Ralph M. Lester, 81, of rural Aledo, died Sunday, May 24, 2009, at Mercer County Hospital, Aledo. Services will be 11 a.m. Friday, May 29, at Dennison Funeral Home, Viola. Ralph will be escorted to Viola Cemetery by the Patriot Guard Riders where military rites will be conducted by American Legion Post 121, Aledo. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Viola Fire Department. He was born May 21, 1928, in Kewanee, the son of Hal and Lydia Abbott Lester. He married Shirley A. Nanke Jan. 10, 1953, in Rock Island. Ralph played football and graduated from Atkinson High School. Mr. Lester worked 32 years at John Deere Plow Planter, retiring in 1978, as a supervisor. He also farmed in the Viola area from 1971 to 1986. More recently he drove the Project Now bus for 13 years, retiring in 2005. Sergeant Lester served in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserves as a drill instructor at Camp Pendleton. He was a member of American Legion Post 121, Aledo. He loved his dog, Sparky, and going for coffee at the "roundtable" with his friends. Survivors (and spouses) include his wife, Shirley Lester, rural Aledo; two sons, Kenneth (Shelley) Lester, rural Aledo, and Michael (Sherri) Lester, Viola; eight grandchildren, Crystal Nesbitt, Jacob Lester, Morgan Lester, Brandy Reschly, Christopher (Angie) Owens, Angela (Brian) Gordon, Amber (Nicholas) Casteel and Bradley Sloan; six great-grandchildren; two sisters, Gail Billions, Tennessee, and Sue Ann Patterson, Texas; twin brother, Ron (Judy) Lester, Aledo. He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, William. Ralph's family would like to thank the Viola Fire Department, Mercer County Ambulance and Hospital for their great care.