Former Baiting Hollow resident Lester Hopkins Davis III died Dec. 9, 2017, in Cartersville, Ga. He was 91.
Lester will always be remembered for his honesty, fair dealings in business, care for family and friends, and great interest in and affection for aviation.
Born to Alma (Quackenbush) Davis and Judge Lester H. Davis, II in 1926 in Patchogue, Lester was the youngest of two children. Lester’s brother John A.Q. Davis preceded him in death. Lester was the last person to be raised and spend his childhood in the Lester H. Davis House, which was the meetinghouse for the Town of Brookhaven, for about 100 years starting in 1780. Lester’s direct ancestors on Long Island date to their first appearance in Southampton in the 1640s, after emigrating from Wales.
Lester attended Cornell Agricultural School in Ithaca, N.Y., and then returned to the family farm in the rural community of Coram. He married Jean Mary Doughty in 1950, and she became a valuable partner in the operation of the farm and his longtime wife until her death in July 2017. Together they ran the farm, milking as many as 130 dairy cows (using modern equipment) and growing sweet corn, strawberries, pumpkins and tomatoes. In the winter, they sold firewood.
It was on the family farm that Lester and Jean raised their three sons and engaged in an abundant family life filled with farm activities, tractors, trucks and airplanes. Lester learned to fly in the mid-1940s and built an airfield on the farm, which he then operated for about 30 years (Coram Airpark). Lester owned a small Piper Vagabond airplane and a twin-engine Piper Apache airplane, which he kept on and flew off of the farm airstrip. He saw to it that his three sons all learned to fly on the family farm.
Lester was always known as a competent and careful pilot, as well as a strong supporter of aviation on Long Island and throughout the United States. In 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration presented Lester with its coveted Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. According to the FAA, this is the most prestigious award that it issues to certificated pilots, “…to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as ‘master pilots.’” He was always proud to have earned the FAA’s Commercial Pilot Certificate, and he lead by example through many decades of safe flying.
Lester was also an amateur inventor who held a United States patent on a water storage system.
After spending their entire lives on rural Long Island, Lester and Jean moved to Georgia about 10 years ago, to be closer to family.
Lester is survived by his three sons, Randall Hopkins, Lee Charles and Whitney Lane; four grandchildren, Bethany Jean, Amelia Lane, Avery Ayers and Lane Augusta and one great grandchild, Vivianna Lane.
A memorial in honor of Lester and Jean’s lives will be held on a future date to be announced, at the old family homestead at the Lester H. Davis House in Coram.
Memorial donations may be sent to the Davis Town Meeting House Society, Inc., P.O. Box 4, Coram, New York 11727.
This is a paid notice.