Dear Mr. Lester,
Bless you for choosing to have your family's ranch preserved for future generations living in this Valley, so they can visit and get a glimpse of how our entire valley once looked. It was truly a thing of beauty, especially in the spring when all the fruit trees were in bloom and the ground beneath them was carpeted in yellow wild mustard blooms. I grew up on my grandparent's orchard ranch just around the corner from yours on what was then two-lane Almaden Road, now an expressway. My family was forced to sell our orchard to make way for San Jose "upgrades" in the forms of a freeway interchange, holding pond and apartments. When you were a young man you would have known my Grandparents, John Walter Withers, blacksmith and orchardist, his wife Hazel, and possibly my parents, Vernon and Edythe. Were they still here they would all join me in saying thank you for your integrity and stubbornness in refusing to allow all of our former agricultural paradise, with some of the most fertile soil in the world, to be paved over and built upon. Rest peacefully dear man. Your gift will be cherished.
Walter go home in Pease. A true American, and a man of integrity.
Mr. Lester, I never sent you a letter as a child to let you know how much I loved your farmland. I never had a chance to tell you how much it meant to me to pass by your home and see the tall grass and beautiful oak tree. I wish I did. I'm so grateful that I can still share the beauty of your land with my daughter. I hope you knew that there were many of us who supported your efforts to keep the land and loved knowing that you dedicated your heart and soul into the farm. I hope that you'll be able to look down and see how much happiness your land will provide to my daughters generation and future generations.
I enjoyed working with you Mr Lester you were a fine man with great values. Thank you for sharing your legacy for our future generations to enjoy. You will be missed.
Our eternal thanks to Walter Lester for choosing to preserve his family ranch. Just to experience a piece of our valley's proud agricultural history enriches us all. How can we ever repay you, Walter?
Thanks to the selfless generosity of Walter Cottle Lester, ours and future generations will be able to enjoy at Martial Cottle Park a taste of what life once was in this Valley of the Heart's Delight.
Santa Clara County has lost a very good man.
A most rare and impressive true local hero worthy of our collective respect and love. Step aside, the usual celebrities, heeeere's Walter Cottle Lester. A very big thank you for holding fast Lester!
Thank you, Mr. Lester, for your generous gift. Like many in the neighborhood, I drive past your land daily. For the 20 years that I've lived near you, I've sent up many grateful prayers. To be able to see the rain drifting over the mountains, and see such a large expanse of sky, and to smell the earth, and see the orchards...you've been a blessing every day. Your family must be so proud of you as they welcome you home. Bless your heart. xo
Thank you for donating your ranch. I have enjoyed walking the trail every day since it opened. Would of loved to of seen you at the grand opening.
My good friend Rick Welde” a master carpenter and I , worked for Walter . Me for about Three years and Rick for about Seven . Rick and some of his other master carpenter buddies , and I do mean master carpenters . These guys were unbelievable at what they could do with a hammer and nail. Me I was the laborer on the job . Working on the ranch in the morning and IBM swing shift in the afternoon. I loved working at the ranch because it was definitely stepping back in to time every day. Seeing ‘ the real grass roots' of the beautiful valley that it once was ‘and still is. I feel very lucky to be part of history and the legacy of the Cottle family. Rick' his crew and I put a new foundation under the farm house. Up-grading foundation this was no easy task. Seventy yards on concrete went under that house that is now the new foundation. I feel very lucky to be part of history and the legacy of the “ Cottle” family . Walter was there every day giving his input. Although Walter was a rancher and a farmer by trade this man's input to the job at hand. Was just simply an amazing man, a man of integrity and intelligence second to none? Walter was the salt of the valley “ and I am a better man because of the opportunity I had to walk in his shadow. God Bless and the Blossom Valley will never see another man like Walter .
Thank you so much for your gift of open space near our neighborhood. My children and I drive along this land on Branham Lane every day on our way to Valley Christian High School. It is a delight to look at it instead of looking at houses or shopping centers and from up high on the hill at VCHS it is especially beautiful. We look forward to visiting the park and visitor center once the buildings are complete. May you rest in peace.
I am 20 years old, and have looked across the street from my house at this farm everyday. Everyone always was talking about how someday it would be a park for the community. I cannot believe that it is finally happening. It was like I was dreaming the same dream alongside him. I am so grateful that this was donated to us. It is nice to finally have something that the city won't be able to turn into homes or shopping centers. He will be remembered forever! RIP sir. <3
We are eternally grateful to Mr. Lester for his generosity and his strength in character to stand up for what he believed in. Thanks to him, so many others will continue to enjoy the beautiful open space of his farm.
Thank you Lester Family for all you have given us. Farming is not a small task. I remember when Mr. Lester would walk to the well pump house each morning. So wish he could have seen completion. May you rest in Peace!
We can't thank you enough, Mr Lester. Your generous gift will be appreciated for generations to come. God Bless you.
Thank you Mr. Lester for your vision which has resulted in creation of a legacy park to be experienced by current and future generations. Thank you to the Giordano family for working with Mr. Lester to enhance his quality of life and achieve his vision.
Mr Lester and Family: thank you so much for helping keep our open spaces OPEN!
Wishing more of us were in a position to leave the same legacy rather than continuing to choke up our valley with more buildings.
What an incredible surprise this morning to read in our Tulsa World paper about the Lester family donation of an agricultural park. I grew up quite close to this park (Bascom & Redding Road), and long have thought how nice it would be to have a park set aside in "Silicon Valley" for the agricultural scenes we remember from childhood. I am eager to visit the completed park on my next trip home.
Thank you Walter. A park will be a great legacy to leave the community and honor his mother's wishes.
I had the honor to meet Mr. Lester and tour the property he and his family called home for over 100 years. He loved this land and ensured it would still exist for generations to come by donating the property to the State of CA and the County of Santa Clara. What a tribute to his family and to those of us who will enjoy it from this day forward.
People like him are few and far between. The County is privileged that it can now retain a piece of history and be able to "live" the story for future generations. Thank you Mr.Lester and may your soul rest in peace.
Thanks you for your gift Mr. Lester a part of San Jose early days will be here for everyone to see as time goes by. RIP
My sister and I own a farm in Iowa that has been in our family since 1864. Walter Cottle Lester is an inspiration to us to forever preserve our land in its original condition forever. Thank you, Walter, for showing us the way. L and N Peters
Thank you, Walter for your generosity! This land seems especially accessible to the South County. Hopefully many families there will visit, so that their children can see what farmland looks like.
My family and I are so grateful to the Lesters for their amazing gift to our neighborhood. Their generosity will bless our community for generations to come. May they both rest in peace.
-MY KIND OF MAN! .... -WELL DONE!
IF, THE COUNTY EVER TRIES TO VIOLATE YOUR AGREEMENTS....AND...I CATCH WIND OF IT....THE WINDS SHALL BRING ME THERE TO DEFEND ITS PRESERVATION....AND DON'T BE FOOLED, I AM A GOOD LAWYER.
HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR NEW SET OF OAK TREES.
THANK YOU, FOR INSPIRING SUCH GENEROSITY...FOR IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT SHALL PROBABLY SAVE US.
I GUESS WE'RE JUST SANELY CRAZY LIKE THAT.
JESS H. KRIEHN
-FELLOW LOCAL AND FUTURE PHILANTHROPIST-
Your commitment to making sure that your family's land is preserved for future generations to appreciate is a testament to your ethic. I was saddened to hear of your passing; even though I didn't know you personally, I so appreciate what you did for all of us in San Jose.
Dear Mr. Cottle Lester,
May you find peace now and thank you for your generosity to our Valley's future. My ancestors we also ranchers in this valley but were forced to sell their properties for various reasons. Now I can visit your land and show my daughter what it was like here back in the day! The good old days!
Dear Mr. Lester, I hadn't seen you in quite awhile now, you use to drive up in your old beatup truck pulling your tractor. You would be out there most of the day mowing down the weeds in the field next to my house. Thank you so much for being a caring person and giving back so much to our community.
I did not know there was still a piece of land left in the valley. i am the great granddaughter of A F Umbarger. His brother David originally settled on the land that is now the fair grounds, Umbarger Road. My family is from Berryessa and the Gifford/Smith family and Umbarger family lands are long gone but i have wonderful memories of the valley when it was beautiful. Thanks to Mr Lester others will be able to see a bit of that. Bless him.
Thank you on behalf of future generations who will benefit from your willingness to preserve open space in the midst of of the wheels of corporations to pave over the richest farm land in the US.
What an amazing story, and thank you Walter for what you have left for all to enjoy. This is an amazing legacy.
Dear Mr. Lester - Thank you for your generosity. I live very near your property, and saw that the trail was opened yesterday. I will walk it and think of you and your beautiful legacy. I wish you peace, and a joyful reunion with your family.
Just thank you! With all my heart. I am glad you were here. RIP
R.I.P. Mr. Lester. I didn't know you, but your fields just across the street kept my window bright some years ago, and hopefully will carry on as a delicious but painful reminder of what this valley had been.
Thanks Walter for preserving this piece of the valley I cycled in my childhood. A blessing on your memory. JK Dunnycove, Co. Cork, Ireland
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Thank you, Lester for your contribution. I have enjoyed looking at your ranch almost daily for years as I drove past it. I am so glad you preserved the land so lovingly for future generations who can now know you through how and where you loved. God bless!
Dear Walter The Great!!
Wishing you a Great Life "THERE". You deserve to have a special guardian angel to watch over you.
Thanks for donating the land to county. We had a great walk around your farm/park today and it was great to know that i never felt tired of walking the whole trail. Seems to be great place with lot of history. I wish we could have visited you while you were alive. Once again thanks for giving us an opportunity of walking trail for our neighborhood
God bless you Mr. Lester. I grew up in Almaden. Your gift will forever help future generations remember our agrarian roots.
Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for the wonderful gift of your lovely land. You are an inspiration.
Thank you, Walter. I will think of you every time I come back to San Jose. I am old enough to remember when San Jose still resembled "The Valley of Heart's delight" rather than the concrete jumble of strip malls it became. Bless you for being stubborn and preserving your farm.
Thank you, Mr. Lester, for the wonderful gift you have given to the current and future generations of San Jose. Hopefully when they walk the trail and enjoy the park, it will spark their imaginations to remember what your life was like on the farm and to realize that the simple things in life are far more valuable than everything that is shiny and electronic. May you rest in peace.
Thank you Walter for the Park, we will enjoy it for years to come.