Friday, January 12th, 2018
Lester Alfred Balster, age 82, passed away peacefully Wednesday, December 27, 2017 with his family by his side.
He was born July 7, 1935 on a family farm in Mercer County, Ohio. Les was the son of John and Albina (Heitkamp) Balster. His family was a close-knit group with eight siblings.
Lester graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Les attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa for his Master's degree and obtained his license as a professional engineer.
He married Rae Ann Swinderman on June 27, 1964 in Guayama, Puerto Rico. They lived in Dayton, Ohio for their first eight years of marriage while Les worked at NCR where he helped develop a micro-encapsulation process for paper. This process was used for creating carbonless copy paper and for the first scratch and sniff stickers.
In 1972, Les and family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where he worked at Appleton Papers for 29 years. During his career, he helped design paper coating machines and engineered solutions for challenges encountered in the operation of the machinery creating finished paper products. He was a crucial team member on a number of patents. Les very much enjoyed his years at Appleton Papers and kept in touch with his coworkers regularly after retirement.
In time away from work, Les enjoyed many pastimes such as; wood working, gardening, reading, sailing, fixing anything that was broken, and working on his son and daughter-in-law's farm (building chicken coops, driving tractors, cutting wood and repairing fences). Les was generous with his time volunteering at St. Bernadette's Catholic Church, St. Joe's Food Pantry, the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities, Sturgeon Patrol, and EAA Air Venture.
He liked spending time chatting with family and friends, helping neighbors with snow blowing sidewalks, rotor-tilling their gardens, and donating extra garden produce to the neighborhood as well as cooking outside on his home-made beer keg grill.
Les loved time with his wife of 53 years, Rae Ann, their children, and their children's families. Traveling, camping near Beecher Lake, visiting interesting state parks and novel places, walking outside on the farm, at parks, in the woods, and their neighborhood were some of the many activities he enjoyed with family. Attending children's and grandchildren's sporting events, concerts, and dance recitals as well as creating contraptions such as potato launchers, sling shots, wood boats, doll clothes' dressers and model Ferris wheels were events and hobbies Les enjoyed.
He kept close with siblings and their families through annual reunions and family events and his wife's family through visits to Puerto Rico. He kept in touch with extended family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Les was a generous, kind, hardworking, and gentle man.
He is survived by his wife, Rae Ann, and their four children: Lisa Balster, Mark (Cheryl) Balster, Tracie (Tom) Schirtzinger, and Kellie (Jonathan) Fay and by nine grandchildren; Justin, Andrew (fiancee Lindsey), Kyle and Jack Balster; Eric, Ian and Adam Schirtzinger; Josie and Trevor Fay. In addition, he is survived by two sisters: Bernice (Gene) Liening and Margie (Terry) Boeckman; brothers; Harold (Shirley), Ralph (Lois), Dennis (Bev), Delbert (Beatsy) Balster, a brother-in-law Robert Kinderman; sister-in-law Elsie Balster.
Les was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Werner, sister Rita and sister-in-law, Karen Balster.
Funeral services will be held in the spring.
Lester's family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staffs at assisted living facilities at Heartwood Homes and at Brillion West Haven for the wonderful care and compassion given to our loved one. Also, Heartland Hospice staff and Valley Funeral Home staff were comforting and helpful to our family and their efforts were very much appreciated.