Industry Mourns Passing Of ‘Pops’

By Kit Jones, Wheelwright | January 2012, Vol. 67 No. 1

He was a mentor and father figure to many -- Before working for his own father, the younger McAffee, worked for Lester, and owes him a lot of credit for much of his own success. “Whenever I had a moral dilemma, I’d call Pops and he’d say: ‘Son, just be honorable in everything you do, and you will be treated fairly in return.’ That’s just the way he was.”

He trusted and respected his suppliers -- Lester was always fair, never asked for favors, and in return knew that his suppliers would always treat him the same way. “When Lester called and ordered pipe from us, we knew he was good for his word,” said Jim Fletcher, an industry pipe distributor. “Lester was probably the fairest contractor I’ve ever worked with. During the lean years, he’d pay his employees and suppliers before he paid himself.”

Dave Holcomb of TT Technologies stated, “To anyone who met him, he was unforgettable and possessed a keen sense of intuition on any project he worked on. The respect he received in our industry was unmatched.”

His penchant for giving was endless -- No one really knows how much money Lester gave away or loaned throughout his life, but from all accounts, it was a lot. “Heck, I think Lester gave away more money than I’ve made in my entire life,” added the elder McAffee.

If he loaned money to a friend or family member, he knew they were good for it, and he never expected anything in return. “If there were folks in the community, just down on their luck. Lester always wanted to help and give back. He’d become a successful businessman and was glad he could help in any way,” Jim Fletcher added.

Bryan Fletcher, Jim’s son and business associate had this to say, “He was like the Sam Walton of the trenchless sewer industry. Very humble, very caring and a man everyone wanted to work for.”

Lester left this world the way he wanted it to be, he didn’t want to bother anyone -- Never a complainer, very few people knew just how sick Lester was. He would downplay his ailments and joke about how he would have taken better care of himself if he had known how long he was going to live.

In fact, the Friday before his death, as he always did after a full day at the office, he said his usual goodbyes to those still there and dutifully made the 130-mile drive from Jacksonville, to his home in Leesburg, FL. When he arrived home he finally said that he wasn’t feeling that well and might need to go to the hospital. Lester Ray Luttrell quietly passed away two days later; the cancer finally overtaking this monument of a man and icon in our industry.