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1925 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Chaplain Corps, United States Navy, (Ret.)

LAKELAND - Chaplain LeMasters passed away on Monday, March 11, 2019. He was born near Bethesda, Ohio on December 5, 1925. He graduated from Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and was ordained in the Indiana Conference of The Methodist Church. After serving parishes in Indiana, he transferred to The Minnesota Conference of the Methodist Church, where he served at Sauk Centre, Ada, Beltrami, and Moorhead.
Chaplain LeMasters was commissioned on March 3, 1958. His first tour was at The National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, MD. He spent the next two years aboard ship in Destroyer Escort Squadron Fourteen, Newport, RI.
In October 1962, he assisted in the evacuation of 2800 dependents and civilian personnel from Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
From 1966 to 1968 he served in Keflavik, Iceland as the staff chaplain, Iceland Defense Force. Following a tour at the Orlando Recruit Training Command, he returned to sea aboard USS Albany (CG-10).
He also served at the Marine Headquarters Battalion in Arlington, VA with additional duty as Assistant to the Chaplain, US Marine Corps. During this tour he was promoted to the rank of Captain.
In 1978 he was assigned as the Officer-in-Charge of Fleet Religious Support Activity, Atlantic Fleet, in Norfolk, Virginia.
In 1983 he reported to Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, as Force Chaplain where he remained until his retirement in December 1987. In June 1988 he took retired status from the Minnesota Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Chaplain LeMasters was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal, The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, The Meritorious Service Medal, and The Legion of Merit.
He and his wife, Vera, lived in Lakeland, Florida since 1987 and were active at the First United Methodist Church in Lakeland. He is past-President of The Board of Directors of Talbot House Ministries, served on the Homeless Coalition of Polk County, and Lakeland's Affordable Housing Committee.
Their daughter, Diane Knippers, was the President of The Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. until her death in 2005. Diane was married to Ed Knippers.
Their son, Doug, is the Director of Operations at Vienna Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, VA. He is married to the former Jeannette Padgett. Doug and Jeannette have two married children, Eric LeMasters and Elyse Morris, and two grandchildren, Melanie and Emma.
Visitation will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 9 am at First United Methodist Church, 72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801. Services to follow at 10 am.
Interment will follow at 2 pm at Florida National Cemetery, 6502 SW 102nd Ave, Bushnell, FL 33513.
The family suggests sending memorial contributions to the Diane Knippers Memorial Endowed Scholarship, Asbury University, One Mechlem Dr, Wilmore, KY 40390.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.heathfuneralchapel.com
Published in Ledger from Mar. 13 to Mar. 14, 2019
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