Life Story / Obituary
Hestin LeRoy Richards, age 98, passed away peacefully at Aurora Medical Center Grafton on February 10, 2024. He was born January 14, 1926 in Shelby Co. IL, the first child of Hestin Carroll and Lottie (Brown) Richards. Both parents were from early American, pre-Civil War families. Hestin LeRoy (a.k.a. Le) attended a one room country school near his family farm. He later attended a new community high school a few miles away where he graduated first in his class at age 16.
After a year at Eastern Illinois University he enlisted, at 17, in the U.S. Army Air Corp. As a flight crew member in Texas, he helped train glider pilots preparing for the invasion of Europe. Then to help satisfy the need for Engineer Officers he transferred to the Corp of Engineers and attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. There he excelled and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant. He was, at 19, the youngest member of the class.
With World War II over, Hestin was quickly deployed to Japan on the Marine Serpent, a new troop carrier, on its 2nd run across the Pacific. After some time in Yokohama and Tokyo, Hestin was assigned to the 1192nd Engineer Construction Group in Sendai on the Pacific coast of Honshu. There, at age 20, he served as Group Adjutant, Chief Administrative and Headquarters Company Commander. The Groups’ mission was to build troop and dependent housing for world troops arriving to occupy the country.
In short periods of leisure, Hestin saw much of Japan, its beauty and its devastation. He climbed Mt. Fuji and spent a few nights in Tokyo at the Imperial Hotel.
A few years later, Hestin served as 1st Lieutenant in a similar capacity state side with the 583 Engineer Combat Battalion when recalled to active duty during the Korean War.
After World War II, Hestin met Alice Ann Hawker, "Ann" at Eastern Illinois University. They were married August 14, 1949 at a rural church in Clark Co. IL, near her home. Alice Ann passed away Dec 3, 2015 at the age of 87. They were married 66 years, had three children and five granddaughters.
Hestin studied chemistry, education, law and business, and earned bachelors, masters, and law degrees. In law school he was the editor of the University of Illinois Law Review and President of the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity. In the summer of 1955, he graduated first in his class.
After working as an associate with a Washington, D.C. law firm a few blocks from the White House, Hestin joined S. C. Johnson in Racine, WI, a city where his wife had visited relatives many times as a child. There, he served in many legal capacities for 36 years and became Associate General Counsel.
In the mid-1970s, Hestin was also President of the Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association (CSMA), a New York based trade group of more than 400 companies which produced and sold products for consumer and industrial use. He established its Washington, D.C. headquarters in 1974 and traveled extensively to state capitols and abroad where he helped shape laws and regulations affecting the packaged goods industry.
Le and Ann enjoyed their family, friends and community life. In retirement, Le spent time with family and friends while following his many personal interests and overseeing the family farms in Central and Eastern Illinois. The study of history and economics were favorite pastimes.
Le was a member of the Methodist Church and an associate member of the Cocoa Beach, FL, Presbyterian Church where he and Ann spent many winters during retirement.
Le was preceded in death by his parents Hestin and Lottie, one sister Juanita Marlott, two young brothers, son Scott, and wife Ann.
He is survived by son Gregory (Julie), daughter Jennifer Thomson, one sister Ileene Wehrle, five granddaughters Michelle Richards, Katherine Richards, Amanda Thomson (Ben Bahlmann), Keela Thomson and Misty Thomson (Jordan Tyrna), 2 great grandsons, and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held Friday, February 23, 2024, 11:00 A.M. at the Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home, 803 Main St. Racine, WI. Friends and relatives may gather for visitation Friday morning at the funeral home from 10:00 A.M. until time of service at 11:00 A.M.
The family will place a memorial in the Meyer Cemetery, Shelby Co, IL near several earlier generations of Hestin’s family and spread his ashes with Alice Ann’s on their Clark Co, IL farm.