Melvin A. Lester, M.D.

Lives Lived

Melvin A. Lester, M.D.

Winter 2020
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Melvin A. Lester (M.D. 1961), special assistant to the executive vice president for medical affairs at Michigan Medicine and an adjunct internal medicine faculty member, died on December 8, 2019, at the age of 83. After earning his medical degree from the Medical School in 1961, Lester began his career in private practice, served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, and returned to private practice in 1968. He raised four children with his wife, Geraldine, who is now deceased. 

Lester was deeply interested in medical ethics, politics, and business and served as chairman of both the Ethics Committee and the Legislative Committee of the Michigan State Medical Society. He later became the president of the Detroit Medical Center, where he advocated for strategies to make hospital care more effective, more efficient, and safer. 

A longtime friend of Samuel and Jean Frankel, Lester was instrumental in establishing the Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center. He helped make embryonic stem cell research legal in Michigan, testifying to a Michigan house committee and then working to get the issue put on the ballot. 

A founding member of the Victors Club, he co-hosted U-M football tailgate parties for nearly 50 years. He is survived by his children, Stefany Freeman, Kenneth Lester, Matthew Lester, and Jennifer Lester, all U-M alumni, and their families.


This obituary draws on Lester’s 2016 autobiography, You Should Be So Lucky: Memories of Papa Mel