At the age of 15 Lester Long left his home in Marble Hill to join the carnival and worked there for 42 years. Shortly after leaving he lost touch with his family.
This past Labor Day weekend he was reunited with one of his two living sisters after 17 years of being out of contact most recently. Both sisters have now seen him and are grateful that he is alive after writing him off as being dead because of no contact in such a long time.
His sister Mary Horton lives in Park Hills and says when she saw him for the first time in 17 years “It is hard to describe, I was in shock.” His sister Gladys Welch of Chaffee, Mo., said “I was shocked and couldn’t believe he was still alive.”
Both sisters were reunited with their brother after a social worker with Tip Hospice, Kristy Whitney, and nurse Chrissy Will helped find them. Lester wasn’t sure if they were around, or if something had happened to them.
“We started looking about three weeks ago when he said he would like to see his family. He remembered his sister’s married last name and I called all the Hortons in the phone book, until I finally got Mary,” Whitney said. “We were trying to grant his last wishes.”
Mary and her eldest daughter met with Lester and had about a four hour visit on the first day being reunited. The family was surprised that they were able to come together again.
Lester always worked in carnivals and enjoyed his time as a carnival worker. He ran the tilt-a-whirl as well as fixed rides and also painted. He saw most of the 50 states with the exception of New York and a few others. However he said one of his favorite states was South Dakota.
He has been in Farmington for a while. “We were very surprised when they called us, we had no idea that he was (here),” a family member said.
Lester responded with, “My heart sank when I saw my sister for the first time, I was at a loss for words.”