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102 year-old man dies, hundreds attend funeral

THE WAY THEY WERE: A young Lester Streete, left, with his wife Elma

FIVE HUNDRED mourners united to say farewell to popular former bus conductor, Jamaican-born Lester Streete; who at 102, lived to become a legend in his adopted home city of Wolverhampton.

Those at his packed funeral service heard how the deeply religious great-great grandfather had been a true pioneer, devoting his life to supporting others who came from the Caribbean to settle in the UK during the 1950s.

As a mark of the high esteem in which he was held, a specially commissioned double decker, which bore the destination ‘Lester Streete: One Final Journey,’ carried mourners to his graveside, then on to a big reception at Wolverhampton Racecourse. It was a touching gesture from his former employers, the former West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, which has since been incorporated into the National Express Group.

Cricket-mad Mr. Streete had lived independently before his death on 12 May, being looked after by Eseata and the rest of his family which includes five children, 14 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. His beloved wife Elma, a childhood sweetheart, who like him, hailed from Hanover in Jamaica, died in 2007.

His proud daughter Eseata Steele, said:

SUITED AND BOOTED: Lester Streete in his bus conductor's uniform

“My dad loved his job and the passengers loved him because he would always help mums with their pushchairs and shopping. He never let anyone struggle. They used to call him the ‘friendly conductor.’ As a family we wanted to celebrate his life and travelling by bus was the perfect way to do that.”

Eseata told The Voice:

“My Dad had lived his life to the full and he wanted to go. He prayed daily to be with the Lord and with our mother.”

Tributes flowed during a service at Darlington Street Methodist Church, chosen to accommodate the high number of mourners. Family had flown in from Canada and travelled from all parts of the UK.

His grand-daughter Dr. Jacqueline McLean, who had the congregation in peals of laughter at the story of her grandfather applying black polish to his old greying cow in order to sell her before leaving Jamaica, said:

“Grandpa was a person who loved to share what he had who could connect with young and old in equal measure.

TRIBUTE: Lester Steele's daughter Eseata Steele with a special floral arrangement in honour of her cricket-mad father

“He and Granny taught us how to pray and fear the Lord - in fact many psalms that we know and love today were read to us by them when we were young. He was a prayer warrior.”

While another grandson Terry Streete, who had travelled from Canada spoke proudly of his grandfather’s legendary kindness from his exemplary service on the buses to helping individuals navigate their way to a new home in England. To a laughing audience, he added:

“I think one of the greatest gifts he gave us was that Streete swagger - he was handsome, stylish, charming.”

Grandson Stephen Steele said the family thought the word ‘stalwart’ was particularly appropriate to describe his grandfather as someone who is physically and morally strong, someone who is a loyal, reliable, hardworking supporter of the cause – and those causes for my grandfather were his family, his community and his church. He said:

“He was a strong disciplinarian who instilled the values of Godliness in us all. My grandparents demonstrated this by opening up their home to countless people, supporting and housing them without complaint. His kindness has had a huge impact on his community. He leaves behind a life that will continue to shine brightly.”

CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES: Lester Streete celebrating his 100th birthday in February 2015

With humour and great affection another grandson Kudjoe Boafoo shared many favourite memories. He told the story of how as a young boy when his family were staying with his grandparents that he had a nightmare and woke up screaming that he had cut his hand very badly.

“Everyone knew it was just a bad dream and my parents simply stared at my uninjured hand – everyone except Grandpa who wrapped my hand in a plaster and said everything would be fine. All of a sudden my hand got better!”

In his eulogy, son Telford , who flew from Canada, revealed how his father had advised him to keep his speech as short as a mini skirt, adding:

“My father had a message from God, about getting married, where he said God spoke to him and said: ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss.’ At the time my father had five girlfriends – I’m so glad he chose my mum!

“He had a great desire to help people - to try to win their souls for Christ. He used to have a badge saying: ‘Got a problem? Call on Jesus.’”

Reverend Jonathan Somerville, of Wolverhampton’s Tabernacle Baptist Church, where Mr Streete used to worship, told of how he noticed him praying in the congregation before he got to know him:

“This man began to pray and what he was praying was good stuff.

“Shortly after his wife died in 2007, Mr. Streete told me how he put himself to bed one night and told the Lord he was ready to join him, but he woke up the next morning and found he was still here!

“I have sat with people who have passed from this world to the next many times, but few people that I’ve met have been as ready to leave this world as Mr. Streete. He encouraged everyone to look towards Jesus – he had this great devotion to live wisely.”

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