Tom D. Jester Jr., a former Denton mayor who died Saturday, tried to be a friend to everyone and a mentor to younger lawyers, his family members said Monday.
Jill Jester said her father inspired her and that many people have called and written to share warm memories of the impact he had on their lives. He died surrounded by loved ones. He was 74.
“He was a very popular man and for good reason,” she said. “So many people are suffering his loss.”
On Monday, a Frenchy’s Lawn Service truck in the 1000 block of Dallas Drive displayed the message: “Our thoughts [and] prayers to the Tom Jester family. Tom was loved by many [and] will be missed by all.”
Tom Jester was born Feb. 2, 1940, in Arkansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.
In 1967, he received his license to practice law in Texas. That same year, he joined Minor and Knight in Denton, a law firm now known as Minor and Jester, P.C.
According to the firm’s website, he had experience in several areas of civil law and specialized in real estate and business law.
Tom Jester served on the Denton City Council from 1972 to 1976. He was the city’s mayor his last year on the council.
Throughout his life, he served in leadership roles with the Denton Chamber of Commerce, the Denton Country Club, the Denton County Bar Association, a title company and Jester Adoption Services Inc.
He was also a Texas Bar Foundation fellow and previously served as a city of Denton municipal judge and corporation judge.
Jester was also a real estate developer who owned and operated apartment complexes, office and commercial buildings and rental homes.
Jill Jester said her father — who she practiced law with at Minor and Jester — mentored a lot of the leading Denton attorneys. She calls him a man who fought for people and who treated everyone fairly and with kindness and generosity.
“He had friends from high and low, whatever the background,” she said.
Jill Jester said she and others learned a lot from her father.
“Someone has said something to me since he passed that Tom was an everyman, and I think that’s right. He treated everyone the same,” she said. “He just had a fun spirit, and he persevered through a lot of adversity. He didn’t have an easy charmed life.”
The last 13 years of his life, Tom Jester battled pancreatic cancer.
In January, he was among cancer survivors who modeled in the annual You’re Beautiful! Style Show and Luncheon.
The event recognized survivors, remembered people who battled cancer and raised money for cancer research and for Denton County patient services.
Prior to the event, he spoke with the Denton Record-Chronicle about living with cancer.
He said he was participating in the event because he wanted to be an inspiration and show people living with cancer that there’s hope for living a normal life several years after diagnosis. When asked what motivated him, he said it was the desire to “make it, keep going.”
“It’s been a tough journey both physically and mentally,” he told the Record-Chronicle. “I’m going to live life everyday to the fullest.”
Tom Jester is survived by Kathy, his wife of more than 30 years; daughter, Jill and her husband, Chris Rasmussen; and stepson, Craig Allen.
Bill DeBerry Funeral Directors is handling Jester’s funeral arrangements. Visitation is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home, located at 2025 W. University Drive. Jester’s funeral service is slated for 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church Denton, 1100 Malone St.
In lieu of flowers, the Jester family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society or Camp Sweeney, P.O. Box 918, Gainesville, TX, 76241.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.