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Tom Lester, starred as Eb on ‘Green Acres,’ dies at 81

The actor died at his Nashville home of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Tom Lester (back row, center) is photographed with his “Green Acres” cast mates: Alvy Moore (clockwise from back row, left), Pat Buttram, Eleanor Audley, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.
Tom Lester (back row, center) is photographed with his “Green Acres” cast mates: Alvy Moore (clockwise from back row, left), Pat Buttram, Eleanor Audley, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.
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Thomas William Lester, an actor best known for his role on the television show “Green Acres,” died Monday in Nashville.

He was 81.

An obituary posted by his family explains he died at his Nashville home of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was with his fiancee and long-term caregiver Jackie Peters, the obituary says.

He was born Sept. 23, 1938, in Laurel, Mississippi.

Lester played Eb Dawson on the show between 1965 and 1971, and performed in two feature films, “Gordy” (1994) and “Benji” (1974). Lester is said to have been the last surviving regular cast member of “Green Acres.”

According to Forbes, Lester was born in Laurel, Mississippi in 1938, Lester graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in chemistry, but decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.

In the late 1940s, his family said, Lester became a born-again Christian and devoted his time to evangelism.

“During and after his role as Eb, he became more involved traveling the nation, preaching a message of Christian faith and obedience,” his obituary indicates.

He owned a farm in Jasper County, Mississippi. He was awarded the state’s Wildlife Farmer of the Year award in 1997, according to his obituary.

Lester was preceded in death by father Pat W. Lester (1913-2009), an accountant with Gulf Oil, and mother Mary Sue (Thornton) Lester (1914- 2009), a manager with Home Interiors and Gifts. He is survived by his brother, Michael T. Lester, a retiree of Corporate Energy, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, two great-nieces, Haleigh and McKenzie, one great-great niece, Scarlett, and one great-great nephew, Wes, in Newnan, Georgia, according to his obituary.

Family and close friends plan to attend a graveside service Friday at the Hickory Grove Cemetery in Laurel, Mississippi, officiated by Dr. Randy Turner of the First Baptist Church in that location.

A celebration of life service is expected to be held at a later date.

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