Maxine Lorraine Lester
- June 28, 2023
Maxine Lorraine Lester
Maxine Lorraine Lester passed peacefully from this world after a brief illness on May 7, 2023, at Life Care Center of Stonegate in Parker, Colo. She was 91.
She is survived by her four children, Mark Van Cleve (Gustavo Calderon) of San Francisco, Calif.; Gary Van Cleve (Nancy) of Minneapolis, Minn.; Lori Wagner of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; and Amy Van Cleve (John Gilliam) of Mesa, Ariz. She leaves five grandchildren, Annie Van Cleve (Jake Nielsen) and Mark Van Cleve, of Minneapolis; Maddie Dumas (Aaron) of Madison, Wis., Jesse Wagner of Denver, Colo., and Ben Wagner of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; she also leaves three great-grandchildren, Andre, Bobby and Clarence Dumas of Madison, Wis.
Maxine was born on a farm in Ceylon, Minn., on Jan. 2, 1932, the eighth of nine children of Jesse and Jessie Gardner Lester. Seven siblings preceded her in death, John Lester, Mary Lester Hanson, Helen Lester Thayer, Gertrude Lester Jenkins, Donna (Dotty) Lester Christianson, Roy Lester and Glen Lester. She is survived by her younger brother, Gary Lester (Mickey) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Maxine attended Roosevelt High School in Cedar Rapids, graduating in 1950. She was an honor student, thespian and Homecoming Queen, with the opportunity to attend college on a scholarship, but chose instead to follow her high school sweetheart, Earl H. (“Hugh”) Van Cleve Jr., who had enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. They were married on June 23, 1951, at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.
While raising their children, Maxine and Hugh led a nomadic life as Hugh, a University of Iowa Pharmacy School graduate, worked his way up the management ladder for a national drug store chain, transferring from Midwest town to town, eventually settling in Fond du Lac, Wis., where Hugh became the store manager of the local Osco Drug.
Maxine was fiercely devoted to her family throughout these moves, making sure that every stop, however brief, became a “home” to her children. She made sure her kids always had library cards at every local library, joined the YMCA, played Little League baseball and took swimming lessons. She served as Den Mother for her Cub Scout sons and enrolled her daughters in dance classes; she was involved in her kids’ schools and in whatever local church her family attended.
In 1983, having returned to Iowa City, Iowa where Hugh took a position with another drug store chain, Maxine and Hugh divorced. Maxine worked in advertising sales for the Daily Iowan; on a sales call one day, she met Frank Eicher. They were smitten and married May 28, 1987. They moved to Florida in 1994 and eventually settled in Ft. Myers, where they lived for over 30 years. Maxine became Frank’s business partner in real estate development, acquisitions and management. They moved back to the Midwest in 2017 in advance of Hurricane Irma. Frank died June 1, 2020, at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. In April 2022, Maxine moved from Minneapolis to an assisted living facility in Highlands Ranch, Colo. She suffered a stroke shortly before she died.
Maxine also leaves Frank’s seven children, Carol Eicher of Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Charles Eicher of Iowa City, Iowa; Susan Eicher (Steve Caffey) of Eugene, Ore.; Janet Eicher (Cameron Johnston) of Seattle, Wash.; Deborah Eicher (Eric Brown) of London, England; Mary Cross (Richard Thames) of Apex, N.C.; and Richard Eicher (Jessica Schultz) of Seattle, Wash.
Maxine epitomized the characteristics of her Silent Generation in so many respects. She lived a life built on the pillars of love, family, hard work, self-sacrifice, respect for others, financial prudence and resilience. Her active and inquisitive mind, her love and her laughter will be greatly missed.
There will be a memorial service with an opportunity to share memories of Maxine at 10 a.m. on July 5, 2023, at the Eicher Cemetery in Wayland, Iowa.