In memoriam of the remarkable Edwina Lester: 10-17-1945 to 08-12-2023
Edwina Lester, 77, of Surfside Beach, SC, passed away on Saturday, August 12,
2023 at her home, surrounded by her loving family and friends.
Edwina always longed for a big, tightknit family and, boy, did she get it. Edwina
is survived by her loving daughter, Karen Ciaranca, and an extended constellation of
step-children: Adam (Patsy) Lester, Mark (Jacqui) Lester, Kenneth (Kelly) Sherwin,
Robert (Nancy) Sherwin, Diane (Mike) Sherwin, and Patricia Sherwin. Edwina also left behind seven extraordinary grandchildren; Brian Dougherty, Sarah (Mike) Ciaranca,Annina (Ernesto) Wells, Cecily Ciaranca, Anya Lester, and Alexander Lester, as well as her beloved nephews Andy and Paul, and a cherished great-grandson, Nicholas, each a testament to her enduring legacy. Edwina was predeceased by her husband Michael
Lester, her daughter Deane Dougherty, her mother Anna Tavani, her father Edward
Tavani, her grandson Lucas Wells, and her son-in-law John Ciaranca.
Edwina Lester, a woman of indomitable spirit, strength, and unwavering
determination, leaves behind a tapestry of cherished memories, deeply etched in the
hearts of those fortunate enough to cross her path. Born in the vibrant neighborhood of
West Philadelphia, Edwina was raised by her formidable mother, Anna Tavani.
Later, while raising her two children, Karen and Deane in Darby, PA, Edwina
started her first job at O.B. Cannon's Industrial Paints. Cannons bore witness to Edwina's
tireless dedication for more than a quarter-century. As an executive medical secretary, her
work was marked by a blend of necessity and meticulous precision. Her remarkable
organizational prowess and innate efficiency made her an invaluable asset to Cannons.
Edwina only left Cannons after finding upon the person who would later become her
husband of over 30 years, Michael Lester, while vacationing on the beaches of Portugal.
Edwina and Michael later settled down in Snaresbrook, England, where they would live
for nearly a decade which left her with the life-long habit of drinking tea and calling
cookies biscuits. In England, Edwina became the loving step-mother to Adam and Mark
who she helped to raise and, more importantly, who she helped to introduce to real
Edwina and Michael eventually came back to the States to care for Edwina’s
mother, Anna, and Edwina began work at the Cooper Medical Center in Camden as the
executive medical secretary. There, her organizational brilliance, beguiling charm, and
the ease with which she connected with others once again took center stage. Coopers
Medical Center allowed Edwina to use her secretarial skills to help save lives. She
worked tirelessly despite taking care of her ailing mother and supporting her husband
Michael through a heart transplant. Even though Edwina and Michael returned to
America, her British family would continue to travel across “the pond” to see their dad
and step-mom, especially for the American holiday of Thanksgiving which became something of a family tradition where both sides of the family, the Brits and the Americans, would gather, eat way too much turkey, don paper crowns, and celebrate together.
Edwina later continued as an executive medical secretary at the Chester County Hospital where she helped to organize and support the NICU unit as well as the doctors and nurses in the pediatric department. Yet again she was using her organizational skills to help make the hospital experience more seamless and streamlined. Edwina finished her long career with her informal yet impactful role as the anchor of her husband's enterprise, Michael Lester's ELM's Tax Service.
After a long battle with various ailments, Michael passed away. In honor of their dreams to move to a sunny beach town, Edwina moved to Surfside Beach, SC, where she spent the last three years of her life. Though she was only in South Carolina for a few years, the friends and neighbors she made there were unmatched in their kindness, care, and a deep love for Edwina. Her friends and neighbors in surfside will always be remembered, for the gentle ways they showed up for her, loving and caring for her, as she persevered through two years of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In her last days Edwina had all of her family by her side, from her daughter and step-sons to all of her grandchildren and nephews. Her energy, her laugh, and her presence will be deeply missed. We will carry her memory and her legacy forward, in all that we do.
It is important to note, Edwina's legacy extends far beyond her professional accomplishments. Her exceptional work ethic and unwavering dedication were matched only by her capacity to persevere, share joy, and help those around her. Her diverse passions included traveling the globe, belly dancing, camping, cooking volunteering at local non-profits, going to the beach, bowling, softball, hosting absolutely fantastic parties, and of course Sunday bingo at the Surfside community center. In all, Edwina traveled to England, Portugal, Germany, Jamaica, France, Ireland, Scotland, and Spain; and that’s only the countries that we know of. Family was the cornerstone of her existence, coupled with an unyielding commitment to justice and aiding those in need.
Edwina Lester's legacy is a symphony of strength, compassion, and enduring connections. Her profound impact resonates in the lives she touched. While she embarks on her journey beyond, the echoes of her laughter, her nurturing spirit, and her zest for life remain eternally alive.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions in memory of Edwina go to the Helping Hand South Strand Food Pantry in Surfside Beach (www.helpinghandmb.org/) where Edwina volunteered at in the last year of her life.
Cremation Services Direct of Myrtle Beach, SC is assisting the family with the arrangements.