Arlie Lester Leno
Lester Leno taught music for seven years in four schools, beginning at Modesto Academy in California, where he taught for four years. He then taught for a year each at Redlands Junior Academy, also in California; Oak Park Academy in Iowa; and at Alpine Springs Academy, a self-supporting school, in Wisconsin.
Leno was born in Burt, North Dakota, the youngest of eight children, to parents who were descendants of German immigrants from Russia and both played the organ. The family moved to South Dakota and shortly thereafter, when he was five, to the Northwest, eventually settling in Walla Walla, Washington, by the time Lester entered second grade.
Influenced by his siblings who all played a variety of instruments, he began study on the trumpet. He made excellent progress and at age nine won second prize at the Walla Walla College Amateur Hour.
He attended Union College during his freshman year where he played in the college band under the direction of his brother, Lloyd. After a little more than a year of college, he accepted an invitation to teach band and classroom music at Modesto Academy. In his four years there and a subsequent year at Redlands Junior Academy, he took additional study at the University of the Pacific and at Pacific Union College.
Following this initial experience in music teaching and the breakdown of his first marriage, which began while he was at RJA, Leno took a leave of absence. He eventually went to work for United Medical Laboratory in Portland, Oregon, where he became personnel director. During this time he sang with the Rose City Singers, a choral group conducted by Max Mace and sponsored by UML. When Mace left to form the Heritage Singers, Leno briefly conducted the group until UML discontinued it as a cost-cutting measure.
While working for UML, he remarried and when the company was sold, he went to work for St. Joseph community Hospital in Vancouver, Washington, as its personnel director. Some time later he was recruited to return to music teaching at Oak Park Academy, a small school in the Midwest that had a struggling program. At the end of that year, the principal left OPA, inviting Leno to join him in establishing Alpine Springs, a new self-supporting school in Wisconsin.
Following a year there, he returned to the Northwest with his family and went into sales for a medical manufacturing company, PML Microbiologicals, in Tualatin, Oregon, where he worked for nearly 18 years, eventually serving as its president. He now runs a packaging broker business in Clackamas, Oregon.
Sources: Interview with Lester Leno, 2007; !930 U.S. Federal Census; personal knowledge.