Captain Lester Jay Stone, U.S. Navy (Ret.), passed away peacefully on July 10, 2012, in Chambersburg, with his family by his side.
Born on July 8, 1911, in Washington state, he was the son of the late Walter and Lottie Stone. He spent his early years in the West developing an interest in colors; drawing and painting that would serve him in his later life. Stone attended the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School, San Diego, Calif., and then, in 1930, was admitted to the United States Naval Academy as a midshipman, graduating in 1934. He earned his naval aviator "wings" three years later.
Stone witnessed the U.S.S. Shaw explode during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and conversely, he witnessed the Japanese surrender at Kyushu. He later commanded the Naval Air Facility at Opama to help the Japanese rebuild their Air Force. He was awarded The Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan; an honor rarely afforded a foreigner.
As the Executive Officer of the carrier Sicily, he saw action in the Korean War. Stone was also Commander of the Naval Air Station, Memphis, Tennessee, and Inspector General of the Navy. His career in the Navy culminated thirty years of innovation and contributions to the development of carrier aviation. The results are still employed by today's Navy, Army, and Air Force pilots. Stone was decorated with the Bronze Star.
Upon retirement, Stone returned to his early interest in art. He studied under the renowned Italian sculptor Oscar Gallo, at the Academia Delle Belle Arti, Florence, Italy. He then spent considerable time in Marbella, Spain, where he concentrated on portraits and local scenes. Some of his finest work evolved from this period. The most notable is "The Sea," a painting of the blue Mediterranean. Among the countless high points of his career as an artist are: first, the acceptance by the Japanese Watercolor Society of his painting of a Japanese shrine on Eno Shima, a small island. It was the first painting by a foreigner ever selected by the Society; and, second, a portrait of the Shah of Iran commissioned by his first cousin, Khosro Afshar.
Stone's paintings are in many private, public and corporate collections, including the permanent collections of the United States Capitol Rotunda, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Department of Defense.
A critic wrote, "This artist is a man of remarkable depth whose paintings depict great sensitivity and understatement." The American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA) News and Journal, in a recent article, wrote, "He is absolutely charming. The combination of his quiet demeanor with his sparkling intelligence, dry humor and innate humility make a formidable human being indeed."
Stone was a Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists, Salmagundi Club and National Arts Club in New York, West Coast Watercolor Society, Baltimore Watercolor Society, and the Maryland Federation of Art.
After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1934, he was married to the late Peggy King of Annapolis, Md., with whom he will be buried. Surviving are his three daughters, Judith King Stone of Sharpsburg, Md.; Marguerite Stone Calyer of Malden Bridge, N.Y.; and Susan Ridgaway Stone of Gettysburg; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. His son, Lester Jay Stone, Jr., died in 1989.
Funeral arrangements are not yet complete A graveside service will be held at the United States Naval Academy at Hospital Point overlooking the Severn River, where he sailed so often as a midshipman.
Published in Gettysburg Times from Jul. 11 to Jul. 14, 2012.