In Part Nine of my series on the Shipshe Walldogs murals done in June 2014, my subject is this mural, which is to be found on the outside of the recently-built Trading Place Pavilion on State Road 5. The words say “Pletchers Pacing Acres—since 1935” and there is a photo of a fine-looking older gentleman, named as Lester W. Pletcher.
I looked for Mr. Pletcher on findagrave.com, and struck pay dirt. His obituary is found there, as it ran in the May 27, 2006 issue of The Elkhart Truth. Yes, he died in May 2006—Mr. Pletcher lived to be nearly 100 years old! His obituary tells the story.
Lester William Pletcher was born in Indiana in 1906 and was joined in marriage to Irma Weirich in 1929. The marriage produced three sons—Delmer, Dwayne, and Donald. It goes on to say that Lester and Irma founded Pletcher’s Pacing Acres in 1935 and that he “raced many top horses around the Midwest in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan.” His awards included admission into the Harness Horse Hall of Fame in Indiana and Illinois, as well as the Winning Hall of Standard Breed Horse Racing in both states. The article says that Lester’s horse-racing legacy has been passed down to his sons and grandsons, who are still involved in horse racing.
Lester was a horse breeder of some repute, the article goes on to say. Right Honor, Pacing Bay and Sherries Honor were three of his top winners, but not the only ones. He raced and stabled his horses in Chicago, Detroit, and on the fair circuits.
The obituary mentions Lester’s other pursuits; he was a busy and energetic man and quite the entrepreneur! He had a canned milk hauling business; a freight-hauling business; and he was a farmer.
Old census records bear this out. In the 1930 census, Lester was a 23-year-old newlywed, living with his 18-year-old bride in Clinton. His occupation is listed as “farmer.” No doubt his love for horses was already evident.
In the 1940 census, Lester and Irma are the parents of three young boys. Lester is a truck driver for a “milk condensery” and he worked 35 hours the previous week. In 1939 he worked 52 weeks and made $1,650—not a bad wage for those days.
Lester and Irma (who predeceased him by eight years) are buried at the Shore Cemetery.