Pastors' Memoirs

Lester David Nave, 1929-2002

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  Dr. Lester D. Nave died of heart disease on his 73rd birthday, Sept. 11, 2002, at his home in Richmond. Les was born and raised in Boones Creek, Washington County, Tennessee. He was raised in Marvin Chapel Methodist Church near Jonesborough. He began his ministry in the Holston Conference, where he received his license to preach at the age of 16. He graduated from Emory and Henry College in 1951. He served Mt. Carmel Church in 1952, near Kingsport, Tennessee, and married Mabel Bruce (Brucie) Wilson the same year. He was ordained a deacon in 1954.

  Les received his M.Div. from Vanderbilt while serving the Eagleville Circuit near Murfreesboro as a student. Upon graduating in 1956, he moved to the Virginia Conference where he was ordained elder (1956) and served: Grace (Roanoke, 1956-1961), Greenwood (Glen Allen, 1961-1962), Welborne, which relocated and rebuilt during his tenure (Richmond, 1962-1969), First (Salem, 1969-1973), Trinity (Alexandria, 1973-1976), Williamsburg (1976-1981), as the Danville District superintendent (1981-1986), and as Executive Secretary of Virginia United Methodist Pensions, Inc., Director of Supplemental Benefits, staff person for the Board of Ordained Ministry, and Director of Ministerial Services (1986-1991). Having suffered from Parkinson’s Disease since the age of 43, Les was on Disability Leave from 1991 until his retirement in 1996.

  Les served countless boards, agencies, and committees of the Virginia Conference. He was a very gifted, thought provoking preacher. He was not ashamed of the gospel, even when its challenges were difficult to accept. Civil rights was just one issue on which he stood firm, including traveling to Mississippi to register African Americans to vote soon after the Civil Rights Act was passed. He served as one of Virginia’s delegates to General Conference in 1984 and 1988. For his distinguished service, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Emory & Henry in 1988, and was named Pastor Emeritus of Welborne Church in 1998.

  Les is survived by his wife of nearly eight years, Frances; his three sons, Dr. David Nave of Sanford, N.C., David’s wife Susan, and their children: Brittany, Austin, Wilson, and Taylor; Bruce Nave of Virginia Beach, and his sons: Billy and Joey; the Rev. Kirk Nave of Stephens City (serving Stephens City Church), Kirk’s wife Stefanie Haddix Nave (daughter of Dr. Alexis Haddix, Crewe Church), and their children: Gary and Maggie; Les’ sister Gladys Matheson of Bennettsville, S.C., his brother John Nave of Kingsport, Tenn., and his sister Helen Nave Grills of Kingsport, Tenn.; and Lester’s stepchildren, Sheila Ray of Richmond, her husband, Steve, and their three sons: Andrew, Jacob, and Zachary; David Callis of Massachusetts, his wife Suzanne and their twin sons: Matthew and Philip.

  Lester will be remembered by the countless souls who came to Christ and grew in Christ during his ministry, and by the many clergy who often sought his counsel. Perhaps most of all, Les will be remembered for his quick wit, which allowed so many in this annual conference to laugh while serving Christ together.

— Kirk Nave, son



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