Joseph R. Sester


MENDOTA - Joseph Raymond “Joe” Sester, 81, of Mendota passed away peacefully Sept. 15, 2020 at his home.

Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Merritt Funeral Home, Mendota. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 21 at Saint Patrick Catholic Church, LaSalle with Father Tom Otto officiating. Burial will follow at North Kingston Cemetery in Genoa at 2 p.m. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, everyone attending is asked to please wear a mask and abide by social distancing guidelines.

Joe was born in 1939 in Genoa to Raymond “Bub” and Isabel (Rubeck) Sester, as the eldest of seven boys. He married Corinne Eide on June 21, 1957 in Sycamore.

Survivors include his wife of Mendota; three children, Christopher (Rayanne) Sester, Scott (Dana) Sester and Michele (Duane) Brotherton; nine grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and three brothers, Ronnie, Norman and Gayle Sester.

He was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers, Lindsay, Gary and Kirk Sester.

In 1956, Joe, the beguiling running back of the Genoa Kingston High School football team, captured the eye of his high school sweetheart and future wife, Corinne. The day after Joe’s high school graduation, he grabbed his suitcase, a graduation gift from his grandmother, and they hopped on a bus from Sycamore to O’Hare for a final destination of North Carolina. After a fruitless elopement, Joe and Corinne officially tied the knot in Sycamore. Joe was hired in 1957 as a telephone installer for Leich Electric. He and Corinne and their dog, Poochie hit the road for three years, traveling across the U.S. to various job sites and enjoying many adventures as a new couple. They had their first child, Christopher in 1960 and lived in Genoa until the telephone company transferred them to Mendota in 1962. In Mendota, Joe worked as switchman at the telephone company (General Telephone, now Frontier) until he retired at age 60. He also loved to share his trade, hosting numerous grade school class field trips at the local Mendota telephone office, showing the kids the fascinating insides of the telephone switch room. He became known in the state as the go-to-guy and was sent to resolve the most difficult trouble-shooting assignments.

When Joe set his mind on doing something, there was no stopping him. In 1977 and 1978, he and his brother, Gayle built the Sester dream house on five acres north of Mendota. This was through two of the worst blizzards on record. He continued his day job at the phone company and managed to work on the house in the evenings and weekends, installing all electrical and plumbing - even with his right hand in a cast part of the time. In his 70s and 80s he was doing all of his own siding and roof replacements, car repairs, chopping down trees and taking care of their five acres.

Joe felt his faith deeply and sincerely and always put others before himself. He would give you the shirt off his back if you asked. For many years, he drove fellow Mendota parishioners to church, lovingly provided communion to nursing home residents, wore out two Bible covers reading his Bible daily, and was a very active member in his local church. He was known to give people the last dollar he had in his wallet and helped out numerous strangers who needed help including a couple who showed up at their home door stranded. Without question, he drove them 30 miles in the middle of the night to their hometown.

Joe would want everyone to remember him with a joke or smile. Please pass on your favorite humorous story to brighten up someone else’s day, which is what he would want most of all.

The online guestbook may be viewed at

Memorials may be directed to Saint Patrick Catholic Church in LaSalle, Holy Cross Church in Mendota or CBN [the Christian Broadcasting Company].