J. LEE LEDBETTER
J. Lee Ledbetter, a retired vice president of finance and university instructor, has died at his home in Eaton, Colorado on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. He was 83. He is survived by his wife, Harriett Ledbetter, four children, Christine Ledbetter (Dean Skylar), Jeffrey Ledbetter (Marjorie Scharpf), Rachelle Ledbetter (Steven Swinney), Stephen Ledbetter (Lisa), 10 grandchildren, one great-grandson, three step-children, Cheryl Gould (Robb), Marsha Middleswarth (Jay) , Kevin Call, five step-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
The youngest child of tenant farmers, he was born Dec. 2. 1931 in Pike County, Ill. His first bed was a shoebox with a blanket behind the stove.
During his childhood, he helped his father harvest wheat and corn. He recounted that he would shuck the inside row, his older brother Johnny would take the second row, and his father would work the two outside rows. “My Dad never looked where he was throwing the ears of corn. Periodically he would throw too low and hit me in the side of the head,” he said.
At 17, he left high school to join the Navy during the Korean War. A chaplain’s assistant, he served for four years enabling him to use the GI Bill for college at Western Illinois University, and graduate school at the University of Illinois.
Mr. Ledbetter married his teenage sweetheart, Patricia Mayes, in 1952. When she died in 1996, he reunited with a former high school friend, Harriett Call, whom he married in 1997. “I have been so fortunate to be loved and supported by two outstanding wives,” he once wrote.
His career, which began at Arthur Andersen in Chicago, took him to many positions across the country and in Europe. He was the controller of Monsanto Europe in Brussels, vice president and controller of Lukens Steel Company in Coatesville, Pa., and senior vice president of finance for Blount Inc. in Montgomery, Ala. After retiring from his corporate career, he taught finance at Drexel University, financial management in Slovakia and strategic management at the University of Northern Colorado.
In his retirement, he continued to travel, visiting his children and grandchildren. While he never forgot his farming roots, he enjoyed fine restaurants, classical music and well-tailored suits. He followed all sports, from local high school teams to the pros, with special affection for the Rockies.
Even though Mr. Ledbetter didn’t graduate from Seymour High School in Payson, he always felt connected to the class of 1949. When a classmate died, he would inform the surviving members, and send flowers from the group. He coordinated the Payson Seymour High School’s 65th reunion. Only four were able to attend.
A member of the First Congregational Church in Eaton, he is preceded in death by his four siblings, Raymond Ledbetter, Dorothy Keithly, John Ledbetter, Anne Galluzzio, and one grandson, Christopher Duffy.
Visitation will be from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Thursday (June 4, 2015) at the Zehender Robison Stormer Cookson Funeral Home, 1435 State Street in Quincy, Ill.
Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday (June 5, 2015) at the United Baptist Church in Kinderhook, Ill. Burial with Military Honors by the Payson V.F.W. Post 2061 and the U. S. Navy Funeral Honors Detail will be in the Kinderhook Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Kinderhook Historical Society.