James Robert (Bob) McLester, 84, passed away on September 10, 2022, after several months of declining health.
Born in Lumberton, NC, in 1937, he was the son of the late James Dumas McLester and Patty Price McLester and the second of four siblings. Shortly after graduating from NC State in 1959 as a mechanical engineer, Bob married his life-long sweetheart Linda Bayne Inman, and they moved to Buffalo, NY. Never a fan of the cold, however, Bob and Linda were soon back to stay in the warmth of North Carolina.
Upon returning to NC, Bob joined his father’s company, Sheet Metal Works. In time, he and his partners Gary Fisher and Keith McLester grew what became Industrial Sheet Metal and Mechanical Corporation into a leading international manufacturing facility and one of the largest employers in Richmond County.
As well as being an NC State alum, Bob was one of the Wolfpack’s most devoted fans and spent many a fall Saturday tailgating at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh and cheering his team to victory. Longtime member of First Presbyterian Church in Rockingham, Bob served in multiple leadership positions. A well-respected leader in the business community and a mentor to many, Bob served on several boards throughout his life, was a Freemason, and a member of the Rockingham Rotary Club.
After retirement, Bob enjoyed playing golf with his grandson Andrew, as well as deep sea fishing with his sons Malcolm and Ralph. But his favorite pastime, by far, was spending time with his entire family. Every other year, he loved to gather his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren someplace sunny and tropical to laugh, sail, swim, eat, and make wonderful lasting memories.
In 2018, Bob and Linda moved from their longtime home in Rockingham to Scotia Village Retirement Community in Laurinburg NC, where they have enjoyed making new friends and playing putt-putt. (Bob won his last round of putt-putt just last week with a hole in one!)
Bob is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Linda Inman McLester, son Malcolm and wife Laura of Whispering Pines NC, son Ralph and wife Caroline of Siler City NC, grandson Andrew and wife Kacey, along with great-grandchildren Marley and Maddie, of Whispering Pines NC, granddaughter Amanda of Flat Rock NC, grandson Grayson of Siler City NC, and grandson Kel of Brevard NC. He is also survived by sister Sandra Bryan and husband Floyd of Melbourne FL, brother Keith and wife Leone of Rockingham NC, and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter Bayne and his older brother Billy, as well as both his parents.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, September 16, at 1:30 at First Presbyterian Church in Rockingham NC, followed by a reception for family and friends at Richmond Community College’s Cole Auditorium in Hamlet NC. Anyone able to attend is encouraged to wear red and white in honor of Bob’s favorite team (yes, even you Tarheel fans!).
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Richmond County Hospice,1119 US Hwy 1 N, Rockingham, NC 28379 or to First Presbyterian Church, 904 Fayetteville Road, Rockingham NC 28379 for the New Shoes for Christmas fund.