Jean Marie Lester Edwards

February 22, 1928 – March 26, 2024

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Jean Marie Lester Edwards, 96, died peacefully at her home on March 26th,2024. She was born on February 22nd, 1928 as the eldest of two daughters of Jewell and Murray O. Lester of St. Petersburg, Florida. Jean Marie attended Sullins College (’47) in Bristol, VA where she was described in her yearbook “…with her big brown eyes and understanding nature she won her way into the hearts of many.” Later, she was one of the first women to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (’49) and pledged the Pi Beta Phi sorority. There, she met a fellow student named William H Edwards (Willie) who was a US Marine Captain just back from the War in the Pacific. They were soon married on a “hot June day” in St. Petersburg, FL in 1950. Willie complied with his new bride’s request not to take a rank promotion of Major, and instead they moved to Montross, VA to raise their family near his childhood farm in Nomini Grove. Jean Marie will always be remembered for her love of flowers and her enjoyment of sharing them. She was a charter member of what is now known as the Northern Neck Chapter to the Garden Club of Virginia, and had the honor to serve as its President. The Club worked passionately to promote gardening and floral design which won them Commonwealth acclaim and a growing membership. She went through the rigorous accreditation process to reach The Garden Club of America’s highest level “Accredited Life Judge,” and in this capacity she promoted standards of excellence for flower show judges on a national level. Jean Marie taught many Garden Club members about floral design, and will be remembered for her sense of style. Her beloved garden was a highlight on many of the Historic Virginia Garden Club Tours, including during April, 2010 (aka Snowmaggedon), when a 100-year record snow storm swept in one week prior to the Tour’s Opening Day. It was a time when many roads were closed. However, the Garden Club of Virginia persuaded members of the General Assembly, the Governor’s office, and VDOT to clear all roads leading to each Garden Club house on Tour. Jean Marie also taught High School History and English in the Westmorland County School System. She adored literature and was able to expand the curriculum to include the classics. Many of her former students loved speaking and chatting about the wonderful times in the classroom. She cherished the moments with her former students while meeting them throughout the years when travelling the Northern Neck. She and Willie enjoyed working together to build their dream house on the banks of Rosier Creek in Westmoreland County. She loved celebrating life there and hosted multiple deep pit style barbecue celebrations in her garden and family gatherings of hardshell crab parties on her dock. She was a member of the St James Episcopal Church Women’s Vestry in Montross, VA, and later, a member of the St Paul’s Episcopal Women’s Vestry in King George, VA. She is survived by her sister Patsy Lester Baker and her three married children W. Lester Edwards- Katherine Simpson Edwards, Susan Edwards Spivey- Buddy Spivey, William H. Edwards, Jr.- Anita Winsor Edwards. She has four grandchildren Daniel Lester Simpson Edwards, Luke Regan Edwards, William Henry Edwards, III, Natasha Winsor Edwards and her close family friend, Vanessa Brown. A celebration of Jean Marie’s life will take place at a later date to be determined. Contributions in Jean Marie’s memory can be made to Garden Club of Virginia Online condolences may be left for the family at

Visitation & Funeral Service Information

A celebration of Jean Marie’s life will take place at a later date to be determined.

Contributions in Jean Marie’s memory can be made to Garden Club of Virginia